But before then, perhaps the Capitals’ biggest question mark is T.J. Oshie, who did not practice Monday.
The 34-year-old winger left Saturday’s win in the second period with a lower-body injury, and Coach Peter Laviolette said Oshie is day-to-day. Oshie has 22 goals and 21 assists in 53 games. He had a hat trick last week in his first game back with the team after his father’s death.
Oshie being unable to play in the postseason would be a massive loss for the Capitals, who came into Saturday’s game missing five regulars. Forwards Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom and defenseman John Carlson were out with lower-body injuries, and center Evgeny Kuznetsov and goaltender Ilya Samsonov remain on the NHL’s covid-19 protocol list.
Washington then lost Oshie midgame. The team also nearly lost winger Tom Wilson, who left the game briefly after a collision in the first period with the Flyers’ Nicolas Aube-Kubel. He returned for the start of the second and had no restrictions at Monday’s practice.
Ovechkin, Backstrom and Carlson also were at Monday’s practice. Kuznetsov and Samsonov, who have been on the covid-19 protocol list since last Tuesday, were not. There is no timetable for their return. Goaltenders Vitek Vanecek, Craig Anderson and Zach Fucale (who’s on the taxi squad) participated in Monday’s practice in Samsonov’s absence.
Laviolette remained optimistic that Ovechkin — and all of the other players on the ice Monday — will be ready for the playoffs.
“I hope so,” he said. “I’ve said that. I’m hoping that. Again, we are going to assess how things came out today. . . . I am hopeful that we will have players back, but again I can’t comment on certainty because those things are out of my control.”
Ovechkin and Backstrom were taking normal line rushes Monday; Carlson appeared to be skating as half of an extra defensive pair with 21-year-old prospect Martin Fehervary.
Ovechkin has missed seven of the team’s past eight games because of a lower-body injury. He was hurt late in the Capitals’ 1-0 shootout win April 22 at the New York Islanders. It appeared he hurt his groin or inner right thigh. Ovechkin tried to come back May 3 in a 6-3 win at the New York Rangers, but he skated only one shift before deciding he wasn’t comfortable. He has been ramping up his on-ice work and skated Monday with no restrictions.
Ovechkin has missed 11 games this season; four absences earlier in the year were because of covid protocols.
Also, defenseman Michal Kempny remains on long-term injured reserve. He joined the team’s American Hockey League affiliate in Hershey, Pa., on a conditioning assignment, playing two games.
On Saturday, he left the game with an injury after he collided with a member of the crew that cleans the ice during stops in the action. Laviolette said Kempny is back in Washington and was being examined by the Capitals’ staff.
“There’s a lot of frustration just based on what he’s been through,” Laviolette said. “It’s just crazy.”
Alex Ovechkin, Nastya Ovechkina invest in NWSL’s Spirit
Ovechkin’s mother, Tatyana, won two Olympic gold medals playing basketball for the Soviet Union. His father, Mikhail, played soccer. Ovechkin, an avid soccer fan, has attended D.C. United matches at Audi Field. He has not attended a Spirit game but said he wants to attend matches and practices.
Ovechkin said he recognizes the challenges women’s sports face, seeing it firsthand with his mother’s career. “I know how hard it is to get attention to that,” he said.
Ovechkin and his wife became investors after his business agent, David Abrutyn, reached out about the opportunity.
“We happy, we excited, and it is very important for us to support women’s sport — and especially here in D.C. because obviously I spend lots of time here and it is important,” Ovechkin said.
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