Monday, March 21, 2011, 11:22 a.mUPDATED 1:42 p.m.UPDATED 2:42 p.m.
By Chase Hughes and Ben Raby
CAPITALS PAGE CAPITALS VIDEO
The Washington Capitals have announced that forward Alex Ovechkin will not travel to play the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night and may be out for over a week with an undisclosed injury.
The news comes in the midst of a six-game road trip for the Capitals. After playing in Philadelphia, they travel to Ottawa and Montreal before coming home.
Coach Bruce Boudreau said at practice that Ovechkin "has been bothered by this nagging ailment for a couple of months." Ovechkin received a cortisone shot in early January and was limited to skating drills in a Jan. 6 practice. However, thereisno evidence to suggest the cortisone shot and this undisclosedinjury are related.
Ovechkin has not missed a game this season and is sixth in NHL scoringwith 77 points (29 goals, 48 assists)in 73 games. While Ovechkin is on pace forthe lowest-scoring season of his career, his play has picked uprecently, with eight goals and 13 assists in his past 16 games. The Caps captain was held scoreless just twice during that stretch, leading theteam to a 13-3 record.
Ovechkin's contributions have come at an opportune time, and it makes one wonder why the Capitals are choosing to rest Ovechkin now.
"He hasn't practiced with the team in a while, too," Boudreau said,"so he wants to feel better. He doesn't like waking up every morning and feeling like he has to go through an hour of treatment to get ready to practice or play. He wants to feel healthy. The playoffs are very important to him, and he wants to be at his best when we arrive there."
At Monday morning's practice, players were coy about what the injury was and how long he would be out. Some, however, did comment on how resting their star may be beneficial in the long run.
Its not good, but hopefully he can get healthy, Nicklas Backstrom said. Were looking forward to having him back in the lineup soon.
Guys are just going to take a rest, take a little break and hopefully gear up for a good playoff run, forward Mike Knuble said.
Ovechkin's is just one of the injuries the Capitals are coping with. Second-line center Jason Arnott is week-to-week, while All-Star defenseman Mike Green is dealing with head injuries and his return is unclear. Green may be the only Capital out long-term. Knuble said it could be worse.
Were thankful that were not missing anybody for an extended period of time, he said.
Youre a couple of key injuries form being in trouble for the playoffs. Youre exposed as a group, but I think weve got a great rotation of guys coming in and out.
Ovechkin missed 10 games last season because of injury and suspension,but the Caps managed a 7-2-1 record without their best player, scoring 47 goals in the 10 games.
Washington will rely on players like Backstrom and Alex Semin to pick up the scoring slack, as well as younger players like Marcus Johansson.
Were very good at moving parts. Certain parts youre going to miss, but you learn to deal with it and play a tighter game, Knuble said.
The Capitals have nine regular-season games left and will face what are currently the sixth-, eighth-, ninth- and 10th-place teams in the Eastern Conference during that span. While the team will clearly miss Ovechkin in the short term, the Caps seem more concerned with having him when it counts.
Ovechkin goes out there and plays a style of game thats really tough to play for 82 games, and every now and then hes going to need a little bit of rest, defenseman Karl Alzner said.
I think its great because playoff time is a time where we really, really need him, and its kind of like we have a couple of cards were not showing Philadelphia right now and hopefully we can beat them without him.
NOTE: According to The Washington Post, center Jason Arnott's injury is related to his groin. Arnott is listed as week-to-week with the injury, which has not been disclosed by the team.