Washington coach Bruce Boudreau
hadn't seen injured superstar Alex Ovechkin
as of early Monday afternoon when he met with the local media in Arlington, Va., but he believes the upper body injury the star left wing suffered Sunday could be serious enough to keep him out of Wednesday's game in New Jersey.
The Capitals, who play a home-and-home against Florida Friday and Saturday, updated Ovechkin's status Monday to say he suffered an "upper body strain" and is "week-to-week." He will still travel with the team and continue to receive medical treatment.
"I would venture to guess that he's more probable for the weekend than he is on Wednesday," Boudreau said of Ovechkin, the NHL's Second Star of the Month for October.
Ovechkin, who leads the NHL with 14 goals and 23 points, left Sunday's game against Columbus 6:10 into the second period after colliding with Raffi Torres
in the Capitals' zone. He later confirmed the nature of the injury and called himself day to day.
According to reports from the Washington Post, Ovechkin was not wearing a sling, but did appear to be favoring his left arm during his post-game gathering with the media in front of his locker.
The NHL's second star of the month for October, was also asked if the injury is serious, and his response was, "I don't know."
He showed up at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington Monday morning, but because the Capitals were off he did not address the media.
"I can't tell you how I got hurt," Ovechkin said after Sunday's game, one in which he was limited to 10 shifts totaling 7:43 of ice time and only one shot in Sunday's game. "It's day to day, but just in case I didn't go back on the ice."
Ovechkin probably didn't injure himself on the collision with Torres, but more likely in a multi-player fracas in front of the benches earlier in the second period.
Blue Jackets forward Jason Chimera
shoved Ovechkin, who then pushed back. Columbus' Jared Boll
jumped in and pushed Ovechkin, and then the Capitals came in after him.
Boudreau said he counted seven Blue Jackets on the ice at that time, but no penalty was called.
"I think (Ovechkin's injury) probably happened there, but I don't know for sure," Boudreau said.
After sitting in the penalty box for roughing, Ovechkin came out for his next shift and collided with Torres. He quickly skated off the ice and did not return.
"He was definitely sore," Boudreau said. "You'll never see Alex Ovechkin
sit there saying 'I just don't feel like playing today.' There was a problem yesterday."
Ovechkin finished October with a League-leading 14 goals and 23 points. The 14 goals tied for the most he's scored in any month in his career (March, 2008). He tied Mario Lemieux
's NHL record with six two-goal games in October. He had 40 percent more goals and 44 percent more shots (85) than anyone in the League.
Boudreau said the Capitals are going to have to buckle down defensively without Ovechkin. They are currently 22nd in the League in goals against per game (3.07).
"A goal a game he scores, so we have to play better defense," Boudreau said. "I think we've got enough character players in there that they will understand what we have to do without Alex. As great as he is, if he makes the total difference in our team then we're in trouble."
If Ovechkin can't play Wednesday, Boudreau will likely replace him on the top line with Tomas Fleischmann
, who took Ovechkin's spot alongside Nicklas Backstrom
and Alexander Semin
halfway through Sunday's game. Brooks Laich
, Brendan Morrison
and Mike Knuble
should make up the second line.
Ovechkin has only missed four games in his career, including two last season when he returned to Russia to be with his ailing grandfather. Even though it's unlikely that he'll miss extended time, nobody is fooling themselves around the Capitals right now.
Life without Ovi, even if it's only for a game, is no picnic.
"I'm sure that is what Pittsburgh is saying and what Boston is saying," Boudreau said. "The game is getting bigger, stronger and faster and all these games in October and November are being put together because of the Olympic year. There have been a lot of games played so the body takes some wear and tear."
Contact Dan Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org