It was a rare disappointing evening for the Capitals on Wednesday night. The Capitals lost 4-3 in overtime to the Philadelphia Flyers, and some sad news came out after the game ended. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Alex Ovechkin will miss the NHL All Star Festivities in Nashville this weekend.
Ovechkin was voted in by the fans and was going to be the Captain for the Metropolitan Division. Because Ovechkin declined his invitation to attend the All Star Game, he will be suspended for the Florida Panthers game on February 2.
WHAT IS THE INJURY?
It is really unknown what Alex Ovechkin has been dealing with, but apparently he has been playing with a lower-body injury since early November. It seems that the injury is minor, and it is something he would play through even if the playoffs were happening today.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
Alex Ovechkin is having another great season for the Washington Capitals. His injury has not really hindered his play on the ice during this timeframe. Alex has 28 goals and 42 points in 46 games this year, so he is still averaging around a point per game.
It is kind of surprising that the Capitals did not just give him the Flyers game off too to prolong his rest. One can only think now – is this injury going to require some kind of surgery later on, or will rest be the answer to the healing process?
There is no doubt Ovechkin plays hurt through the season. With his physical rugged style of play, he will get his fair share of bumps, bruises, and strains on a weekly basis.
So what can the Capitals do to help Alex Ovechkin down the stretch? Barring a collapse, the Capitals are a safe bet for the NHL playoffs. With this flexibility, the Capitals can afford to be patient with injuries. The Capitals have shown this patience with injuries this year when John Carlson and Brooks Orpik have been on the shelf.
The Capitals should be patient with Alex Ovechkin and should give him as much rest as possible. Even during games that he does play in, they can manage his ice time a little more. The Capitals are a very deep club, and they can depend a little bit more on their 2nd and 3rd lines to contribute in the offense. Ovechkin probably does not need to play 20+ minutes per game. The slight subtraction in his ice time per game will probably benefit him down the stretch, especially if the Capitals are playing late in the spring.
No, Alex Ovechkin should not be benched or scratched. He needs to continue to play to get the Capitals locked into the playoffs. But Barry Trotz does have the flexibility to spread the icetime around his lineup. Trotz has the option to give more icetime to his depth lines. Evgeny Kuznetsov, TJ Oshie, Justin Williams, and Andre Burakovsky are perfectly capable to pick up the extra slack.
Missing the NHL All Star Game is no big loss for Alex Ovechkin. He has been to plenty of those events, and will attend many more of those events. There is only one thing that matters for Ovechkin and the Capitals organization. The goal for Ovechkin and the Capitals is in June. More rest for the Great 8 will benefit the club long-term. The Washington Capitals need their best player in franchise history to be at his healthiest in the spring time.
By George Foussekis