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Should the Capitals rest their stars?

Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green, Nicklas Backstrom

Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin, center, of Russia, celebrates his first period goal with teammates Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom, of Sweden, in an NHL hockey game against the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday, March 20, 2010, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)


Once the NFL season comes closer to an end, high-end teams like the Indianapolis Colts commonly face the question of whether or not they should rest key players. There’s a camp that says, “Why risk injury in games that are little more than symbolic exhibitions for your team?” Then again, there’s also the line of thought that goes, “Every game has an inherent risk of injury. Why micromanage your players like that, especially since missing games could ruin their rhythm?” The Washington Capitals are in a similar situation now that they’ve clinched the Presidents’ Trophy. They can lose every game and still have home ice advantage throughout the playoffs. They also have one great advantage over NFL teams in this situation: simply put, missing 1 or 2 out of 82 games is a lot less risky than missing 1 out of 16. Tarik El Bashir reports that the team will probably rest Mike Green tonight and wonders who else might be given a mini-vacation in the last few games.

One thing I don’t see happening is much slumber for Alex Ovechkin. The Russian winger is in a three-horse race for the Rocket Richard trophy with Steven Stamkos and goals leader Sidney Crosby. Then again, it’s been a tumultuous season for Ovechkin, so maybe the team will ask him to sacrifice one entry on his trophy rack for a better chance at trophies that matter a whole lot more (namely, the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe).

There’s been plenty of debate about just how good this Capitals team really is. If their best players (or even hard workers like Mike Knuble) need a breather, why not do that now?