Update 12:30 p.m.: Alex Ovechkin missed another practice Thursday with the undisclosed lower-body injury that kept him out of the lineup in Washington’s 2-0 loss to Ottawa Tuesday night.
The star right wing hasn’t skated with his teammates since facing the New York Rangers on Jan. 19, which is when he suffered the injury, according to Coach Adam Oates, but he will travel with the team to New Jersey.
While Ovechkin took a brief turn on the ice in shorts and sneakers early Thursday morning, according to the team, it’s questionable whether he will be in the lineup in New Jersey on Friday as the Capitals kick off a stretch of five road games.
“Tough to say right now [whether Ovechkin will face the Devils]. We’ll have to see how he feels in the morning, if he could skate tomorrow we’d consider putting him in,” said Oates, who said he would consider playing him but with limited ice time. “It depends on how he feels, I’d put him out there maybe selective minutes. Power play, etc.”
Ovechkin was seen walking the hallways at the Capitals’ practice facility in Arlington and did not have a pronounced limp or other impediment, but he was not made available to reporters.
Oates said Ovechkin suffered the injury in the second period against the Rangers, but didn’t detail a specific play. Replays of the contest, however, show that with 9:45 remaining in the second period, Ovechkin absorbed a hit from Dan Girardi on the forecheck that caused him to fall, land on his right knee and then struggle to stand.
“I know he got banged up, I think in the second period,” Oates said. “But because he was warm enough still he was okay for the rest of the game.”
That the Capitals play back-to-back games this weekend at New Jersey and at Montreal, which is this year’s dads and mentors trip, also factors into any decision the team will make about Ovechkin’s status, Oates said.
“We’re not going to put him in a position that he could play, hurt himself and set it back,” Oates said. “If he’s okay to go, obviously his conditioning would be behind so that’s why you’d limit the minutes but if he’s not ready to go we won’t play him.”
Here’s what the lineup looked like without Ovechkin in the mix:
Erskine skating as an extra