"It's going to be a pretty cool moment for me, especially since I've been practicing so hard with coaches. I just want to come back and play hockey because I see my teammates playing and they have fun. It was a boring time for me to go to the arena and just take some treatments." -- Alex Ovechkin
It'll be shocking if he doesn't.
"Unless something negative happens this afternoon and I don't get the OK from Smitty (head athletic trainer Greg Smith) to play him, than I think he would be back," Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said with a deadpanned, no nonsense look on his face.
Ovechkin, who has missed six-straight games since suffering an upper-body strain Nov. 1 against Columbus, was hardly deadpanned during his session with the assembled media.
Asked the obvious question if he's going to play, all Ovi would say is, "In warm-ups for sure, and after we'll see."
But when a reporter asked him if he's excited to get back into the lineup, Ovechkin gave away his big secret.
"It's a pretty good feeling," said No. 8, who still leads the NHL with 86 shots and is tied with Anze Kopitar and Dany Heatley for the League lead in goals with 14.
And, what about making your return in Madison Square Garden, a lively, sold-out building rich in history?
"It's going to be a pretty cool moment for me, especially since I've been practicing so hard with coaches," Ovechkin said. "I just want to come back and play hockey because I see my teammates playing and they have fun. It was a boring time for me to go to the arena and just take some treatments.
"Finally it's over, but again, we're going to see how it's going to be in warm-ups."
We bet it'll be just fine considering Ovechkin said he felt "better" Tuesday and "probably, yeah," when asked if he was 100 percent healthy.
Capitals center David Steckel can't say the same thing.
Steckel, who is third in the NHL with 205 faceoff wins, took a shot off the foot in Monday's practice and is listed as day-to-day. The Capitals recalled Jay Beagle from Hershey of the AHL just in case.
Steckel skated Tuesday morning, but was the first off the ice. He didn't have a noticeable limp, but Boudreau said he'd be a gametime decision.
Goalie Jose Theodore also left the team Monday night to return home for some personal matters. The Caps recalled Michal Neuvirth from Hershey, but Semyon Varlamov will get the start against the Rangers. He likely would have started anyway.
"He's fine," Boudreau said of Theodore, whose two-month old son died over the summer. "It's just a personal matter that he had to take care of at home. As far as I know (he'll be back with team Wednesday for practice)."
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