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Capitals Rally Around Ovechkin, Prepare To Be Without Captain For Bit

The Washington Capitals are rallying around captain Alex Ovechkin and prepare to play without him for the foreseeable future as he attends to a family matter.



ARLINGTON, V.A. — Ahead of the morning skate on Tuesday, Alex Ovechkin stopped by the locker room at MedStar Capitals Iceplex to address his fellow Washington Capitals. After receiving hugs from T.J. Oshie and his teammates, the captain left to attend to a family matter and the health of a loved one, which will hold him out of the lineup for the foreseeable future.

It is tough news for the Capitals, who are in the throes of one of the most difficult playoff pushes they've faced in years and is also struggling to find consistency and scoring. All of that, though, seems less significant when hearing about the personal situation Ovechkin now faces away from the rink.

"You support him. We're all there for him, it's something you never want to see. All you can do is be there for him, and he'll be back when he's ready," Marcus Johansson said.

Oshie, who missed one game back in 2020-21 after the death of his father, Tim Oshie, said that what primarily mattered at the moment was supporting his longtime teammate and friend.

"I hope 'O' knows how much he means to us and how much we're behind him and anything he needs," Oshie said. "Right now, just thoughts for the Ovechkin family.

"It's different when you lose really any player for injury as opposed to a family matter," he added. "Especially the big man, who's created a lot of success not only for the organization but for individuals in the room, me being definitely one of them."

READ MORE ON WHN: Ovechkin Away From Team For 'Foreseeable Future' To Attend To Family Matter

As their captain takes leave, the Capitals know there's still a task at hand. The standings are getting tighter and this final stretch features a platter of must-win games that will determine whether or not Washington will get to compete for the Stanley Cup in spring.

"The most important thing is family… We're all aware of the situation, and we're in a tough stretch coming up here. Teams are winning, so we have to do that, too," Backstrom said. "We got to chip in for each other and make sure we really start playing as a team here."

It won't be easy, though, given Ovechkin's impact. Not only does he lead by example and provide a spark, but Ovechkin also leads the team in scoring with 32 goals and 22 assists this season, and the team is already struggling in the goal-scoring department with just 2.19 goals-for per 60 dating back to Jan. 6.

"Obviously it's going to be tough [with] everything he brings on the ice and off the ice, he's the leader of this team," Trevor van Riemsdyk said. "He does so much for us, he brings the energy with his physical play and obviously, he scores a lot of big goals for us. It's gonna take a huge team effort to fill in that void as best we can, but it'll definitely be tough because he [means] so much for us and he's an incredible player and an incredible teammate."

WHN NOTEBOOK: Capitals Make Lineup Changes With Ovechkin Out

The Capitals have lost their last four games without Ovechkin in the lineup and are 9-7-2 without him since 2019-20. The team has navigated numerous absences and injuries over the last few seasons, though not many have been to their captain. Regardless, another way Washington is looking to rally around Ovechkin is to play hard for him and keep the team afloat until his return.

"You play a little bit harder in moments like this," Oshie noted.

"We got to chip in for each other and make sure we really start playing as a team here," Backstrom said.

The Capitals will play their second game of the season without Ovechkin and first game of this stretch without No. 8 at home on Tuesday when they host the Carolina Hurricanes for the first time this season ahead of the Stadium Series game on Saturday.

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