Ovechkin is still leading the league in goals with 41, but when asked if the undisclosed lower-body injury that kept him out of the all-star game in January is still hampering him, Ovechkin said that it’s lingered, not exactly helped by a schedule that had the Capitals playing five games in seven nights last week.
“It still bothers me,” Ovechkin said. “But of course when we have that kind of schedule, it lets you know right away that it bothers you, that it’s sore.”
Outside of the one-game league suspension for missing the all-star game, Ovechkin hasn’t missed any games or practices. At the time, the organization made the decision for Ovechkin to miss the all-star game in Nashville because it would give him rest and potentially keep the nagging injury from persisting throughout the season.
“If he said it, I have to believe him,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “… Especially on this trip, [the first line] has had a lot of the tough matchups. That’s something you should engage in. I mean, that’s the challenge. For me, in the playoffs, a lot of the times, the top lines get matched up. If they match up well, they probably neutralize each other, then it’s just the depth of your roster sort of takes over. If you can have your top lines dominate the other top lines, you guarantee yourself a win almost all of the time.”
In Monday’s practice, Trotz shook up his forward lines, moving Jay Beagle on the top line with Ovechkin and center Nicklas Backstrom. That bumped right wings T.J. Oshie to the second line and Justin Williams to the third line. Trotz said the changes were made to balance the lineup with contributions hopefully coming from all four lines. He added that these lines are not necessarily permanent.
Ovechkin knows his drought isn’t going to last forever either.
“I just have to find the puck, find the rebounds,” Ovechkin said. “This stuff happens with everybody. I’m pretty sure, sooner or later, it goes away.”