ARLINGTON, Va. --- Words like “nagging injury,” “aches and pains” and “maintenance” were tossed around the practice rink to explain why Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin' will miss seven to 10 days.
Then Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau was asked if Tuesday's game against the Philadelphia Flyers was a playoff contest -- not just one of 82 regular season games -- if his captain would play.
“Probably not,” Boudreau told reporters on Monday.
The official word is that Ovechkin is sore. Not upper body. Not lower body. Just sore.
“He's had some nagging injuries for a while now,” Boudreau said. “We only have one game in six days, so we thought this would be the best time to get him completely healed up.”
Ovechkin collided knee-on-knee with Detroit's Darren Helm last week and Ovechkin is also thought to have some sort of hand injury, but Boudreau refused to go into specifics.
“He hasn't practiced with the team in a while,” Boudreau said. “He wants to feel better. He doesn't like waking up every moning and feeling like he's got to go through an hour of (treatment) to get ready for practice. He wants to play. The playoffs are important to him.”
Ovechkin has been a fairly sturdy player through the first six years of his career, including the last couple seasons where he's missed about as many games due to suspension and injury.
But injury is just theory for his lack of production this season. Even before it was announced he'd be out of the lineup, Ovechkin was already on pace for career lows in goals. He has 29 goals and 48 assists this season, although he has seen a spurt in production of late.
“I don't know what's wrong with him,” linemate Mike Knuble said. “Like anybody else, he's banged up a little bit. You never know the severity of it. . . . It's nothing season-ending by any means.”
The Caps were already without forwards Eric Fehr (shoulder) and Jason Arnott (undisclosed injury) along with defenseman Mike Green (concussion). Boudreau said Fehr is questionable for Tuesday. Arnott skated on his own before practice began and Boudreau said “he felt good,” but gave no indication when ether Arnott or Green would return.
Washington just got center Nicklas Backstrom back Friday from a thumb injury that kept him out five games.
-- A.J. Perez
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