In 34 games without defenseman Brooks Orpik the Capitals have gone 25-5-4. In 12 games without defenseman John Carlson they’ve gone 9-2-1.
But in two games this season without star captain Alex Ovechkin the Caps have gone 0-2, have been outscored 10-2 and have gone 0-for-12 on the power play.
“That’s something we need to work on,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said following the Caps’ 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers Tuesday night. “You don’t know. Alex could get hurt next game and be out a long time -- who knows? -- and we’ve got to win hockey games.
“We’ve knocked so many barriers from this team in the last two years and we just need to dig in and get it done.”
Ovechkin sat out Tuesday night’s game because of a one-game suspension for missing Sunday’s NHL All-Star Game. He also missed the second game of the season for oversleeping and arriving late for a morning skate and the Caps’ lost that game 5-0 to the San Jose Sharks.
Ovechkin leads the Caps with 28 goals and 11 of them have come on the NHL’s No.-ranked power play. But without Ovechkin and Marcus Johansson (upper body) the Caps looked disjointed on the man-advantage even though Trtoz said he counted 17 scoring chances on the eight advantages.
“It’s a learning process. You’re not going to score every power play. Late in the season, especially playoff time, sometimes you’re not going to score on the power play. Sometimes they’re going to kill one off and score one. Those are the ups and downs of the game. We just have to manage our emotions and stick with it.”
Having played just two games in the past 13 games the Caps will play at least every other day for the next 11 days, facing the Islanders on Thursday, the Devils on Saturday and the Flyers on Sunday before leaving on a trip to Nashville, Minnesota and Dallas.
“We’ll get Alex back next game and we’ll have to work our way through this,” Trotz said. “We’ve had a long break and there are some guys who are rusty. John Carlson doesn’t look like John Carlson yet.”
Perhaps that’s why the Caps aren’t too alarmed by a pair of losses to the Panthers in which they were outscored 9-3.
“If you look at the scoring chances (Caps led in shots 38-16) I think we outchanced them by a heck of a lot,” Caps defenseman Karl Alzner said.
“But we lost the special teams battle and you can’t do that. I don’t think we got beat down tonight. We just weren’t on the right side of things and if you have to live with some things, that’s something we can live with.”