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Laviolette Provides Update On Ovechkin, Capitals Plan To Play It Safe With Injury

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Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin

ARLINGTON, V.A. — There was a noticeable absence at MedStar Capitals Iceplex on Tuesday, as captain Alex Ovechkin didn’t take the ice for the Washington Capitals morning skate prior to Tuesday’s game against New York Islanders as he deals with an upper-body injury.

Head coach Peter Laviolette wouldn’t necessarily rule Ovechkin out for the Capitals’ home finale but said that the team plans to play it safe with the Great 8 as the team readies for the postseason.

“We’re going to evaluate it and do the best thing for Alex,” Laviolette said. “So he’ll be a game-time decision. But there’ll be nothing that we jump into that we don’t need to or if it’s not right.”

Ovechkin was injured in Sunday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs after tripping over Erik Kallgren’s stick on a breakaway and going awkwardly into the boards. The 36-year-old stayed down for a long moment before skating off under his own power. He did not return.

On Monday, the Capitals took their team photo, and Ovechkin was on the ice and in full uniform. It was hard to assess his status, but he wasn’t doing much with his left arm.

With regard to the injury, Laviolette said it’s a day-to-day ailment but wouldn’t disclose the injury or severity. Washington has three games left in the regular season, and while Laviolette hopes Ovechkin will be back sooner rather than later, the Capitals aren’t going to rush him with the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs right around the corner.

“I want to say I hope [he’ll be ready for Game 1], but again, I don’t know,” Laviolette said. “It depends on how things progress with him. So it’s day-to-day right now. And so when you go in and talk to the trainers again he’s been in there all morning and he gets looked at and worked on and we’ll see.”

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While there is concern for Ovechkin, Laviolette acknowledged that the start left wing is known for durability and a quick recovery. He has missed just 44 games in his 17-year career, with 24 of those being due to injury.

“There’s got to be a little bit of luck to it. But he’s a really strong guy. Like he’s just physically well put together. I can’t explain, that might be a better question for somebody else but you’re right. He’s durable. He hates not playing the game. He hates being out,” Laviolette noted. “So he’s going to want to be back as soon as possible, and we’re going to make sure that he’s in a good spot to do that.”

Ovechkin leads Washington with 50 goals and 90 points through 77 games this season. With Ovi out, Connor McMichael is filling in for him on the top line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson.

“It’s different, obviously,” teammate Nicklas Backstrom said of Ovechkin’s absence. “He’s always around, and he’s always playing. It’s different. We’ll see what happens tonight if he’s in or out. He’s a big part of our team. So I think it’s a tough loss if he’s not playing. At the same time, it gives opportunities for others to step up.”

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