Alex Ovechkin hasn’t missed a playoff game in his entire career, but his status for the Capitals’ postseason opener next week is uncertain after he suffered an upper-body injury against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday.
The 36-year-old exited the contest after being tripped up and crashing into the boards during the third period. He didn’t suit up for Washington’s game against the New York Islanders on Tuesday and head coach Peter Laviolette told 106.7 The Fan’s Sports Junkies the next morning Ovechkin wouldn’t have played even if it was a playoff game.
“He’s day-to-day right now and so for me, I certainly hope that it’s nothing that’s long term,” Laviolette said. “We’re gonna do the right things. He comes in yesterday, he’s trying to see where he’s at and see if he can get himself prepared. Right now, for me, it doesn’t make sense to go back in the lineup…with the end of the season coming up here, I don’t think we want him back until he’s 100%. I’m certainly hoping that for Game 1 he’s ready and available.”
After picking up a 4-1 loss to the Islanders, the Capitals sit in the second Wild Card spot one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for third place in the Metropolitan Division. They have two games left on their schedule: another matchup with the Islanders on Thursday and Friday’s regular season finale against the New York Rangers.
Washington will likely have to play those final two games without the help of Ovechkin, who ranks fourth in the NHL with 50 goals scored this season. The first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is scheduled to get underway beginning Monday.