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Caps insist they can win without Ovechkin

Tuesday, 11.03.2009 / 2:29 PM / NHL Insider

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

"Offensively you can't rely on one guy all the time, but you're taking a full goal a game out of your lineup. There is no getting around the fact that we're going to miss him. He is the best in the world."
-- Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau

Brendan Morrison says the Washington Capitals are "no one-trick pony."

They will have a chance to prove it starting Wednesday night in New Jersey, the first of who knows how many games they will have to play without injured superstar Alex Ovechkin, who is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body strain.

"That's our rallying cry, our theme, that we have more to offer than just Ovi," Morrison said following Tuesday's practice. "We feel we have a lot of depth up front, a lot of talent and a lot of guys that can score goals. It's time to go and prove what we're saying here."

Ovechkin said Tuesday that he will try to be ready for this weekend's home-and-home against Florida, but that seems unlikely given the nature of his injury and that Washington seems intent on making sure he's 100 percent healthy before he comes back.

Therefore, the Capitals should have at least a handful of chances to prove they can win without No. 8. They are 1-3 and have been outscored, 15-7, in the four games he's missed in his career.

"Offensively you can't rely on one guy all the time, but you're taking a full goal a game out of your lineup," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said of Ovechkin, who has 14 goals in 14 games. "There is no getting around the fact that we're going to miss him. He is the best in the world."

In order to win without him, Boudreau said the Caps have to shore up their defense. Simple math suggests he's 100 percent accurate.

Washington is giving up 3.03 goals per game while scoring 3.67. Figure on taking a goal per game out of the lineup and, well, you get the picture.

"We play a little better defensively and give up one or two goals a game, which I think is realistic and it's something I think most teams strive for," captain Chris Clark said of how the Caps have to play without Ovechkin. "There have been games he hasn't scored in that we won, but he does take a lot of presence on the ice, a lot of focus."

Washington also has to replace Ovechkin on the power play. He's the shooter on the left point opposite defenseman Mike Green. Those two average the most time power-play time on ice in the League by a landslide.

Defenseman Tom Poti will likely take Ovechkin's spot on the left point.

"We have to adjust and fill his spot with somebody and now I think it's my job to get into his spot and shoot the puck," Green said. "There are other guys on the team that can play lots of minutes and contribute on the power play."

Tomas Fleischmann will move into the top six to replace Ovechkin. In Tuesday's practice, Boudreau had Fleishmann on the top line with Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Knuble. Brooks Laich, Morrison and Alexander Semin made up the other scoring line.

"We'll move it around a little bit and we'll probably play four lines more," Boudreau said. "We want to prove we're a good hockey club and Alex being gone gives us a good opportunity to do that.

"As much as he gets all the press, I gotta believe we're not a one-man team."

Here's their chance to show it.

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com


Quote of the Day

It was the look in his eyes. Hockey is the most important thing in his life. He wants to be a hockey player, and nothing's going to stop him from being a hockey player.

— Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin on forward Alex Galchenyuk's potential