The Washington Capitals were back to work on Thursday and got a slight scare prior to practice, as Alex Ovechkin didn’t skate due to precautionary reasons (upper-body).
Ovechkin was in full gear and on the ice before the skate. As practice was kicking off, he took a whirl, spoke quickly to head coach Peter Laviolette and headed to the locker room. It was the second straight practice he missed after having taken a maintenance day on Tuesday. Wednesday was an off day for the team.
Laviolette provided an update on the Great 8 after practice, saying that he wasn’t overly concerned.
“We’re just trying to make sure that everything is good for the weekend,” Laviolette said. “Sure, he would have liked to be out there today, but it was probably best just to try and make sure he is good for the weekend.”
Washington will head to Long Island to take on the Islanders on Saturday and then come back to D.C. on Sunday to host the Vancouver Canucks.
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Ovechkin has not missed a game this season and ranks third in the NHL in scoring with 24 goals and 52 points through 37 games.
Laviolette added that he’s not sure what the exact injury is, but said it could just be “a fatigue or wear-and-tear thing.” Ultimately, he’s optimistic for No. 8 to play.
“He hardly ever misses. We had a day off yesterday, but he doesn’t even like missing today,” Laviolette said. “This is a guy who was in COVID protocol and came out and played five hours later. So he wants to play games.”
Aliaksei Protas took Ovechkin’s place on the top-line left wing alongside Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie. Here are what the Capitals lines looked like on Thursday:
Aliaksei Protas-Evgeny Kuznetsov-T.J. Oshie
Conor Sheary-Nicklas Backstrom-Tom Wilson
Connor McMichael-Lars Eller-Daniel Sprong
Brett Leason-Nic Dowd-Garnet Hathaway
Martin Fehervary-John Carlson
Trevor van Riemsdyk-Nick Jensen
Matt Irwin-Justin Schultz
Mike Sgarbossa, Michal Kempny and Dennis Cholowski were the extras. Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek were the Capitals goalies on the ice.