There was something odd about the final minute of regulation play during Tuesday night's NHL game between the Washington Capitals and Anaheim Ducks at the Verizon Center. The Caps were down by a goal with 1:02 left. Goaltender Tomas Vokoun was pulled for an extra skater, but none of the six Capitals players on the ice were Alex Ovechkin.
Coming out of a timeout, Washington coach Bruce Boudreau benched his star player to the surprise of the announcer... and Ovechkin. As the Great Eight sat down on the bench, he was angry, muttering a string of mouth-guard muffled expletives. The Internet's legions of lip readers have mostly decided that he called his coach a "fat fuck" as he walked away. Commenters on YouTube debated the exact words used as well as the impact or importance of them.
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Despite Ovechkin's clear frustration at being kept off the ice in that key situation, the Capitals were still able to pull off the comeback win after Nicklas Backstrom scored and tied the game with 43 seconds left. The Caps center then scored the game-winner at 2:18 of overtime and Washington improved to 8-2-0.
After the win, Boudreau explained his decision to sit Ovechkin.
"I thought other guys were better than him and I thought there was just a chance that other guys might score the goal," he said. "I got to put out the guys that I think are going to score there. And 99 percent of the time, Alex is the guy I think is going to score the goal. I just didn't think he was going to score the goal at that time tonight."
Ovechkin, who was the first one to hug Backstrom after his game-winner, shrugged off the benching when asked how he felt when he wasn't on the ice for the final minute of regulation.
"The Ward and Brooks Laich line play unbelievable today," he said. "They score like four goals. It's a coaching decision so it's working."
Boudreau told ESPN's Pierre LeBrun on Wednesday that the incident "was really nothing" and he thought "the Laich line was going and deserved to be out there."
LeBrun agrees that it wasn't a big deal, writing that although Ovechkin didn't look happy, he'd be worried if Ovie was fine with sitting on the bench because "all-world players want to be on the ice with the game on the line."
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