Injured Ovechkin practices ahead of opener, Backstrom skates


ARLINGTON, Va. -- Alex Ovechkin (lower-body) took part in Tuesday's optional practice for the Capitals, one day before Wednesday's opener against the New York Rangers. Nicklas Backstrom (hip) also skated prior to the practice for the first time since the start of camp.

Ovechkin suffered a lower-body injury in Friday's preseason finale on a hit on Flyers forward Travis Konecny. He was listed as day-to-day and did not practice on Sunday or Monday, so Ovechkin's participation is a step in the right direction.

Ovechkin skated briefly Tuesday, left the ice, came back on for practice, left again midway through and returned again. His status for Wednesday's game is uncertain.

"Certainly a positive sign that he's out there," head coach Peter Laviolette said.

When asked about Ovechkin's availability Wednesday, Laviolette said, "Anything's possible."

There was an encouraging sign from Backstrom on Tuesday as, prior to practice, Backstrom skated about 15 to 20 minutes by himself. He was wearing a track suit while skating, but it was his first time on the ice since the team returned for training camp.

Backstrom was placed on long-term injured reserve on Tuesday and will miss a minimum of 10 games meaning he will not be playing until at least November.

But just getting him back on the ice is an encouraging sign.

"The fact that he got out there and just got on his edges a little bit, I think that's a positive," Laviolette said. "He's trained. He's working hard back here with the therapist to continue to improve on a daily basis. Just to get him out on the ice today and get on his edges is a positive thing."


With Backstrom out and Ovechkin's status uncertain, it is possible the Caps are in the unfamiliar position of being without both of their star players on Wednesday. Since the 2007-08 season, there have only been seven games in which Backstrom and Ovechkin have been out together. Now the team is facing that possibility for the opener.

But the team is going to take the long view of this and do what is best to get both players back to full health without rushing them back.

"We'll do what's best for the player and make sure that they're healthy," Laviolette said of both Ovechkin and Backstrom, "And we won't put them in any situations where they might be jeopardized out there."