Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was back on the ice for morning skate Tuesday ahead of the team’s game against the Blue Jackets after clearing COVID-19 protocol, and appears ready to rejoin the lineup for game action.
He tested positive for coronavirus last week and missed the team’s game against the Oilers, the only game he’s missed this season, as well as All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas. Ovechkin, who has 29 goals and 29 assists in 46 games this season, didn't show any signs of rust at practice.
“He looks fine to me,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “I’ll go in and clear everything and make sure, but he should be good to go.”
While in quarantine, Ovechkin said he had no coronavirus symptoms. He joked there wasn’t much to do, so he watched the events in Las Vegas over the weekend, including when Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov wore an Alex Ovechkin jersey and did the “hot stick” celebration during the Breakaway Challenge.
“Yeah I think it’s pretty cool, you know?” Ovechkin cracked. “I think it was fun, and I don’t know why he don’t get too many points. What’s the referee doing out there?”
The Capitals will also start goaltender Pheonix Copley for the first time this season. In relief of Ilya Samsonov last week against the Oilers, Copley stopped 21 of 22 shots in a 5-3 loss in his first NHL action of the year.
“I thought he came in and did a really good job for us,” Laviolette said of the decision. “He’s played really well. Two, we’ve got a goaltender (Samsonov) that hasn’t been on the ice in seven days.”
The team’s 48th game of the season will start the unofficial second half of the season, as a stretch of 34 games in 80 days to conclude the season will begin at home.
“Most important thing, like we gonna have (T.J. Oshie) and (Anthony Mantha) is coming back soon,” Ovechkin said. “We gonna finally have full spots in the lineup, but overall I think before the year we know it’s gonna be hard year because of the COVID and all this bull****. Nothing right now, it is what it is. You have to go and play.”