The Washington Capitals (5-7-0) have plenty of things to be concerned with these days. Topping that list now is an injury to superstar captain Alex Ovechkin.
Ovechkin is listed as questionable for the Caps’ next game at the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night. Head coach Adam Oates stated that the injury occurred during the first period of Washington’s last game against the Vancouver Canucks. Oates went on to reveal that Ovechkin is not suffering from a concussion.
Starting a game without Ovechkin is an ominous task — especially since he’s had a hand in 47 percent of the team’s scoring this season. He’s scored 10 of Washington’s 32 goals this term, and he’s assisted on five others.
Ovechkin has missed just 12 games due to injury in his NHL career. It’s an unfortunate time for him to miss one now. The Caps are struggling. There are plenty of people who would disagree, but I’d point them to the video tape and the stats. The Caps have been poor this season and if it weren’t for Ovechkin, they’d likely have the worst record in the league.
Without the star winger in the lineup on Friday night, the Caps automatically become an easier team to defend against. Every team that has played the Caps this year keeps two guys on Ovechkin. During the Caps’ power plays, the opposition is obsessed with getting in his way. A missing Ovechkin makes Washington easier to manage.
Ovechkin is the main reason why the Caps’ offense has managed to cancel out the the team’s defensive inefficiencies. Adding to those defensive concerns is an injury to veteran D-man John Erskine. The 33-year-old was placed on long-term injury reserve this week.
Washington recalled forward Michael Latta and defenseman Dmitry Orlov from the Hershey Bears on Wednesday. If Orlov plays on Friday, he’ll become the 10th defenseman to enter the mix for the Caps during the Caps’ first 13 games. That’s scary for a team trying desperately to get some synergy in defense. Even scarier is a Caps team without Alex Ovechkin.