The Washington Capitals announced on social media Tuesday that All-Star center Alex Ovechkin would miss an extended amount of time attending to a personal family matter without a timetable for return.
Washington Capitals senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today that captain Alex Ovechkin will be away from the team to attend to a family matter and the health of a loved one.
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) February 14, 2023
There is no way to sugarcoat this–this is a huge blow to a Washington club already dealing with several injuries, including defensemen John Carlson. Caps Head coach Peter Laviolette shared his thoughts during Tuesday’s skate around before their 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Head coach Peter Laviolette shares his thoughts on the team being without Alex Ovechkin, who will be away attending to a family matter, during morning skate media availability. #CapsCanes | @SociosUSA pic.twitter.com/w4TvQcCYPC
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 14, 2023
Ovechkin has tallied 32 goals with 54 helpers and a +/- -3, but where Ovechkin raises his game is in the NHL Playoffs. Ovechkin has dominated in the playoffs with 72 goals, 69 assists and a +/- 5 over 147 career playoff contests.
Capitals Season at a Glance
Washington enters their Thursday contest at 28-22-6 on the season but has dropped two straight and 4-6-0 over their last 10, so they weren’t exactly lighting the world on fire with Ovechkin in the lineup.
The Capitals have too much firepower in their lineup to score only three goals per game but just 10 over their past five contests.
As previously mentioned, Washington has dealt with many injuries to key players. Here is a rundown of who’s been injured and how many contests they’ve missed this season.
- John Carlson 26 games
- Tom Wilson 48 games
- Nic Dowd 12 games
Washington is missing about 40 goals without those three in the lineup–Ovechkin out only making the Caps goal-scoring woes that much worse.
Despite the injuries and lack of scoring, the Caps have some solid players they’ll need to rely on in Ovechkin’s absence.
- Evgeny Kuznetsov becomes the de facto offensive leader without Ovechkin, and the left-winger has potted eight goals with 36 helpers for a +/- -5. Kuznetsov has three points over his last five and seven points over his past 10 contests.
- Dylan Strome has been ice cold and without a point on eight shots over his past five. Strome has 11 goals and 25 helpers for a +/- 6 this season, but he needs to get it going and liven up their third line.
- Conor Sherry skates the same line with Caps assist leader Kuznetsov and is 3rd in scoring but only one tally over his last 19 games. Sherry has a dozen goals with 18 assists and a +/- 3 on the season– Sherry must find the twine on the 1st line for the Caps to avoid missing the playoffs.
- Marcus Johannson is having his best offensive season in years, potting 13 goals with 15 dimes and +/- 2. Johannson had seven points in January, but one point in his last three–skating on the 2nd line with Niklas Backstrom and Sonny Milano could pay dividends for the 15-year veteran.
- Erik Gustafsson leads Washington with a +/- 10 and is the anchor of the defense in the absence of Carlson. Gustafsson has seven goals with 23 assists and has three points over his previous five matchups.
Washington Capitals Scoring Woes
Backstrom summed up the Capitals’ biggest disappointment this season–they don’t score goals either 5 x 5 or with a man advantage.
"We're here supporting him. We're on his side and hope everything goes well."
Nicklas Backstrom discusses Alex Ovechkin, the team rebounding from a tough loss last time out and facing Carolina twice this week after morning skate.#CapsCanes | @MedStarHealth pic.twitter.com/ER1IjTGokP
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 14, 2023
The goal-scoring woes extend to the power-play unit–the Caps have a 22% success rate with an extra man this season, but the encouraging sign is their five power-play goals over their past five matchups.
Washington Capitals Promising Penalty Kill Unit
Washington has the 12th-best penalty kill unit in the business but has allowed five shorthanded goals on 14 opportunities over their last five.
The good news is Washington has spent the 28th fewest minutes in the sin bin–the 14 whistles against them were an aberration, and we should want the Caps to return to their disciplined ways.
Despite the Carlson injury, Washington has had solid goaltending this season, and they’d be in real trouble without Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren.
Kuemper is returning from injury, has allowed 13 goals over his last five, and is 13th in the NHL in goals against average (GAA). Kuemper is 17th in expected goals against, and his five shutouts are tied with New York Islanders netminder Ilya Sorokin for tops in the league.
Lindgren is 35th in expected goals per game and is 19th in GAA. Lindgren has allowed a dozen goals over his last five but is a more than suitable backup.
Can Washington make the playoffs?
Yes, the Washington Capitals can make the playoffs.
DraftKings has the Caps as -160 favorites, and Washington should make the playoffs. The Capitals are 7th in the Eastern Conference, are 16-12-3 against their Eastern Conference foes, and with 19 remaining games on their schedule in the East, the Caps should at least reach the playoffs.
Can Washington win the Metropolitan Division?
No, Washington won’t likely win the Metropolitan Division.
Despite the winning record against their Metro Division rivals, the Caps are 16 points behind the division-leading Carolina Hurricanes. Washington fell to Carolina at home Tuesday night and faces the same Hurricanes Carolina club Saturday night in Carolina.
Can Washington win the Eastern Conference?
No, Washington won’t win the Eastern Conference.
Washington won the 2018 Stanley Cup but since has suffered first-round eliminations in their last four playoff appearances. The Caps don’t score goals and don’t have the defense to hold off teams like Carolina, Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, New Jersey Devils, and Toronto Maple Leafs.
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