Capitals downgrade Ovechkin to week to week with upper-body strain

Alex Ovechkin, right, scuffled with Columbus's Samuel Pahlsson, left, and Jared Boll in Sunday's game.
Alex Ovechkin, right, scuffled with Columbus's Samuel Pahlsson, left, and Jared Boll in Sunday's game. (Luis Alvarez/associated Press)
  Enlarge Photo    
By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 3, 2009

One day after suffering an upper-body injury, Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin had his status downgraded to week to week after he was treated by the team's medical staff and underwent an MRI exam.

"Ovechkin suffered an upper-body strain in Sunday evening's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets and his status is week-to-week," the team announced in a news release late Monday afternoon.

Ovechkin, the league leader in goals and points with 14 and 23, respectively, is not expected to play Wednesday in New Jersey. The 24-year-old all-star is, however, going to travel with the Capitals on their upcoming trip while he receives medical treatment. The team has not yet ruled him out of this weekend's back-to-back games against Florida.

Although the Capitals did not practice Monday, Ovechkin pulled into the parking lot of Kettler Capitals Iceplex around 10:30 a.m., behind the wheel of his sports car with his father, Mikhail, in the passenger seat. Ovechkin hopped out of the low-slung Mercedes, shut the door quickly and walked briskly to the building's entrance, ignoring requests from reporters seeking to interview him.

Wearing jeans and a tight-fitting T-shirt, Ovechkin did not appear to have on a sling or a brace of any type. He also appeared to be moving easily before he disappeared behind the doors.

Mikhail Ovechkin later drove his son's car out of the parking lot. A short while after that, a team spokesman said Ovechkin had left the Arlington practice facility through another entrance.

For the second straight day, Coach Bruce Boudreau declined to discuss Ovechkin's injury in detail, presumably to protect the two-time MVP, who could be targeted when he does return to the lineup.

Unlike the NFL, the NHL does not require teams to disclose injuries unless the player is expected to miss a game or is not expected to return to a game after being hurt. Even then, teams are not required to comment on the "specific nature" of the injury, according to a policy approved by the league's general managers last year.

Ovechkin was in obvious discomfort when he left the Capitals' 5-4 overtime loss to the Blue Jackets at Verizon Center early in the second period. Although it's not clear exactly how Ovechkin was hurt, he appeared to be favoring his left side or shoulder after he tussled with Jason Chimera, Jared Boll and other Blue Jackets along the boards early.

"I think it probably happened there," Boudreau said. "But I don't know for sure that it happened there."

Boudreau also said he counted seven Blue Jackets on the ice during the scrum, which began when Chimera pushed Ovechkin and Ovechkin pushed the Columbus agitator back.

"And then Jared Boll jumped him," Boudreau said.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2009 The Washington Post Company