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Ovechkin out for weekend games

by Dan Rosen /

"He's feeling a little bit better every day, but as percentages or degrees, I don't know. He might be one percent better, but he says it's feeling better."
-- Bruce Boudreau

Alex Ovechkin says his upper-body strain is getting better, but after trying to skate in Thursday's practice at Bank Atlantic Center, the Washington Capitals left wing admitted he's not ready to return this weekend.

Ovechkin, who did not partake in the Capitals' morning skate Friday, will miss tonight's game in Florida and Saturday's game at the Verizon Center against the Panthers. His status will be updated again early next week before the Capitals host the Islanders on Wednesday.

"It's only three or four days, so you can't be better right away," Ovechkin said after skating in Thursday's practice. "You need more time. We'll see. Two more games and then we'll see."

The injury, which is believed to be to his left shoulder, kept Ovechkin out of Wednesday's 3-2 loss in New Jersey. The Caps are 1-4 without Ovechkin in the lineup since 2005.

"He's feeling a little bit better every day, but as percentages or degrees, I don't know," Boudreau said Friday morning. "He might be one percent better, but he says it's feeling better. It's going to take time. He wants to play, but you've got to think, 'OK, if he takes a major hit on it and it's not 100 percent it's just going to put him behind the eight ball for three or four weeks.' We don't want that."

Ovechkin practiced Thursday, but according to reports he had to lose his stick early in practice. He couldn't move his left arm freely, but he continued to skate for conditioning purposes and did sprints at the end of practice.

"I just don't want to disturb my injury," Ovechkin said. "Without a stick it's better."

"When you're standing still after you get hurt you feel fine until you move into that one spot when you're like, 'Oh, I shouldn't be doing that right yet,'" Boudreau said. "But his progress, the way he recovers, is pretty amazing."

Ovechkin is getting antsy to get back in the lineup already.

"I miss it," he said. "It's not my thing sitting in the press box and watching the games with you guys (the media). No fun. It's a boring time. "

Boudreau, who remains upset at how the Caps played without Ovechkin in Wednesday's loss, hopes No. 8's desire to play serves as motivation to the rest of the team.

"If it was me, I'm going look at how bad this guy wants to get in the lineup (and think) we have to work a little harder," Boudreau said Thursday. "It happened to me at one point in my career where I came off the ice early and the best player on the team said, 'What are you doing?' I went home and it just dawned on me. I said, 'If the best player on the team can be the hardest worker on the team and I'm just a call-up guy on the team and I'm leaving the ice early because I think things are going well, then there is something wrong with me.' That's the approach when Alex goes on the ice that some of these guys should take."

Boudreau said Friday morning the Caps have to stop worrying about when Ovechkin will return and start focusing on how they can be a good team without him.

"This is the golden opportunity for a group of guys ... to stand up and be the team they can believe they can be without him," Boudreau said. "Pittsburgh doesn't lose a beat when they lose (Sidney) Crosby for six weeks last year, or (Evgeni) Malkin or (Sergei) Gonchar this year. If we think we're a good team, we have to be able to win without him. One player can not be the defining point of a team. They have to realize that instead of feeling sorry for themselves."

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