Ovechkin crashed with his right shoulder first into the boards after he was hooked by Chara.
Update: YouTube video
NHL.TV (Better quality)
The collision was so violent that Ovechkin's head hit the boards next. I thought he had a concussion. Ovechkin stayed down for about 90 seconds. Joe Beninati said he didn't remember Alex being down on ice for so long. Turned out Alex had a stinger...
Alex Ovechkin is tended to by a trainer during the second period of their NHL hockey game against the Boston Bruins in Boston Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2009. (Photo AP)
Hughston Sports Medicine Foundation:
What is a stinger or burner?
A stinger or burner is an intensely painful nerve injury. The nerves that give feeling to the arms and hands originate from the cervical (neck) spinal cord. As these nerves leave the neck, they form the brachial plexus (see Fig. 1). They weave together then branch as they pass under the clavicle (collar bone) on the way to the shoulder.
Nerve injury often happens when the athlete makes a hard hit using his shoulder. The direct blow to the top of the shoulder drives it down and causes the neck to bend toward the opposite side. This motion severely stretches or compresses the nerves and triggers an intense discharge of electricity. For a few seconds, the electricity shoots down the nerves to the tip of the fingers.
After this intense electrical discharge, the nerves' motor fibers that allow movement in the arm do not function well. The dysfunction is evident by weakness in the arm. The weakness often involves the muscles that allow the athlete to lift the arm away from the body, to bend the elbow, and to grip. Symptoms also include sensations of tingling and of burning or stinging pain in the arm and hand. The extent of the damage varies considerably. The pain usually lasts only a few minutes, but the weakness can last weeks, months, or years. Rarely, the injury may cause permanent damage.
A stinger, sometimes called a burner, is an injury that occurs when the head or neck (cervical spine) is hit to one side causing the shoulder to be pulled in the opposite direction.
How does a stinger happen?
A stinger is caused by a stretching of the brachial plexus nerves. These are peripheral nerves that exit the spinal cord and run across the shoulders, under the collarbone, and into the arms. The brachial plexus nerves are responsible for giving the arms their strength and sensation. As a result of a forcible sideways blow to the head or a blow to the shoulder itself, these nerves may become compressed, stretched, and irritated.
What are the symptoms of a stinger?
A side collision of this type causes immediate and intense pain, as well as a tingling or burning sensation in the neck that runs down the arm to the fingers. Weakness in the affected arm or hand is also common. The weakness, numbness, or tingling sensations may last as briefly as a few minutes or as long as a few weeks.
How is a stinger treated?
Most stinger injuries resolve on their own after a period of rest. Athletes are usually removed from the sport until symtpoms are gone. Ice packs on the neck or shoulders, anti-inflammatory medications, massage, and neck strengthening exercises are often part of the treatement plan. Players can usually return to their sport once the pain is gone and they have regained full range of motion, strength, and normal sensation in the neck and arms. Persistant or recurrent symptoms may indicate a more serious injury. Neck x-rays, a CT scan, or MRI may be necessary to rule out other serious conditions with similar symptoms.
Ignoring or playing through a stinger can lead to more serious injuries.
Alex Ovechkin didn't take part in practice this morning but Coach Bruce Boudreau said the break was a planned off day for the star left winger and that Ovechkin is fine after he crashed into the boards Tuesday night in Washington's 3-2 overtime loss to Boston.
"Just a stinger," Boudreau said. "He's the one guy that was at the All Star game...he skated on Monday and I had to kick him off the ice. So I wanted to give him today off to rest. He's probably a little stiff but he's fine. I asked him how his shoulder was and he said he's okay, no problem."
Ovechkin left the game against the Bruins late in the second period after he collided shoulder-first into the corner boards. He returned to the game in the third period though and only missed about two to three normal shifts at the end of the second frame. Seeing Ovechkin lying on the ice though, caused more than a bit of anxiety for Boudreau.
"Forget the breath, I lost my mind," Boudreau said. "He went in fast and hard. I was a little disappointed in the (TD Banknorth) Garden faithful booing him when he was down. There wasn't a person in the stands who could have taken that kind of hit and gotten back up."
By STU HACKEL, Slap SHot blog, New York Times. Jan. 29, 2009:
...and if you want to know what a stinger is, the fan blog Alex Ovetjkin has your answer plus video of the incident...
Thank you, Stu!