Imagine inviting Alex Ovechkin to rip one-timers at you from his office.
That’s what Washington Capitals goalie prospect Garin Bjorklund did after Ovechkin scored on him during practice Saturday.
Attending his first training camp with Washington, Bjorklund, a sixth-round pick (No. 179) in the 2020 NHL Draft, said he wants the full experience before returning to Medicine Hat for the Western Hockey League season.
Staring down Ovechkin’s one-timer from the left circle is part of that.
“He actually scored on me in the slot with a one-timer throughout the practice,” Bjorklund said Monday. “And then when I switched out with (goalie Zach) Fucale, I skated by ‘Ovi’ and I said, ‘Hey, after practice, you want to do a couple one-timers? You’re the best shooter in the world. You’re only going to make me better.’ After practice, he tapped me on the pads and he said, ‘You want to go down there? Only five.’
“I said, ‘You can do as many as you want.'”
Ovechkin usually doesn’t get to let loose on his one-timer against a goalie in practice for safety reasons.
“I think he realizes how powerful it is and how dangerous it can be when your own teammate is in there,” former Capitals goalie Braden Holtby said in 2019.
But Bjorklund welcomed the opportunity to face the shot that has helped Ovechkin climb to sixth in NHL history with 730 goals. The left wing is also second in NHL history with 269 power-play goals, five behind Dave Andreychuk’s record of 274, and has scored 109 of them on one-timers from the left circle or above.
“Before coming here, I was looking forward to seeing what his shot is actually like,” said Bjorklund, who was 10-7-1 with a 2.60 goals-against average, .921 save percentage and one shutout in 18 games with Medicine Hat last season. “Taking one-timers from Ovi, not a lot of goalies have come here and done that.”
So Ovechkin set up in the left circle and began firing one-timers at Bjorklund.
“We ended up doing 15-20 one-timers,” Bjorklund said. “So his shot is definitely harder than it is on TV.”
Bjorklund stopped the majority of them, though.
“To my advantage, I knew what he was doing, where he was shooting from,” he said. “But in a game, it might be different for those goalies with the puck moving so quickly and finding him in his office there. But it was still a cool situation and a cool story to tell when I’m older, for sure.”
When Ovechkin was done, he skated over to Bjorklund and gave him an appreciative tap on his pads with his stick.
“He was just saying, ‘Good job,'” Bjorklund said. “For him just to say that, it means a lot. That was just a funny story that he was able to do that. He doesn’t really practice one-timers after practices, so for him to go out of his way to do that was pretty cool.”