Alex Ovechkin made his training camp debut Wednesday after playing at the World Cup of Hockey, joined by Russian teammates Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov.
ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) It didn't take long for Alex Ovechkin to feel comfortable back on the ice with the Washington Capitals.
Ovechkin made his training camp debut Wednesday after playing at the World Cup of Hockey, joined by Russian teammates Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov. Russia lost to Canada in the semifinals Saturday, and Ovechkin got a couple of days off like other World Cup players felt physically OK when getting back to work.
''It was kind of hard to be back on the ice, but after a couple drills you start to feel the puck again and skating abilities (are) coming back,'' Ovechkin said.
Playing three exhibitions, three round-robin contests and one semifinal game at the World Cup was a mental and physical grind because the tournament was a new challenge. Playing meaningful hockey in the fall is significantly different than the playoffs in the spring or even the Olympics in the winter.
Ovechkin believes that made a difference at the World Cup.
''I think if it was during the year like Olympic Games I don't think U.S. would lose, I don't think Finland would lose,'' Ovechkin said. ''It would be a totally different tournament if it was during the year, not before the year when everybody not in shape, everybody never been in this position before.''
Ovechkin supports the idea of the World Cup, arguing that it's a good and a bad thing because of the level of play and the potential for injuries. The three-time Hart Trophy winner who led the NHL in goals last season just turned 31 and isn't worried about the extra seven games on his body.
''I don't think it's gonna mean a lot,'' Ovechkin said, adding that when the season starts he believes having played in the World Cup will help players who played in "these tough games.''
Kuznetsov said it felt good to be ''home'' with the Capitals and be back in ''hockey mode.'' Playing with Kuznetsov, Ovechkin got into hockey mode at the World Cup and is beginning the adjustment back to the NHL.
''It's nice to be back, obviously,'' Ovechkin said. ''It's kind of when you're waiting when the season's over like, `OK I'm gonna have a couple months to wait.' But as soon as three weeks off you feel like the season's gonna have to start right away because you miss this atmosphere and attention. Sometimes it just gets boring.''
Ovechkin tied for the team lead in points for Russia with three in four games. The 525-goal scorer might be ready to play in a regular-season game right now but will have some time to ramp back up for Oct. 13 against the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
''That's why we have a couple more weeks to be in that shape,'' Ovechkin said.
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