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Karl Alzner is not ready to return from injury as the second round begins

Karl Alzner is not ready to return from injury as the second round begins

Karl Alzner has been ruled out for Game 1 of the Capitals’ second round matchup against the Penguins on Thursday night.

Although the veteran defenseman has been ramping up his workload in recent days, Washington will ice the same lineup it used in the series clinching win over Toronto, Coach Barry Trotz confirmed after the pregame skate in Arlington.

Alzner has been sidelined since Game 2 of the Maple Leafs series with an upper body.

Trotz indicated that Alzner has not received medical clearance to return to game action.

“We’re not going to put him at risk,” Trotz said. “He’s day-to-day.”

Nate Schmidt, who owns a team-best plus-5 rating in the playoffs, will again replace Alzner in the Capitals’ lineup as hockey's most anticipated matchup of the postseason opens at Verizon Center.

RELATED: Caps get the rematch they were hoping for

Check out the latest edition of the Capitals Faceoff Podcast and subscribe on Apple podcastsAudioboom and Google Play!

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Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

Alan May knows a thing or two about the trade deadline.

Over the course of his NHL career, May was traded five total times, four at the trade deadline. He sits down with Rob Carlin on a special edition of the Capitals Extra Podcast to tell stories from his playing days about what it was like getting traded.

This one's a can't miss for hockey fans. You can listen to the episode here on the Capitals Extra page or with the player below.

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NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?

Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.

That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).

Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!