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Washington Capitals

Ovechkinless

Washington CapitalsFor only the fifth time since he was introduced to the NHL in the 05/06 season, the Washington Capitals will play a game without Alex Ovechkin. The game against the New Jersey Devils tonight will be the biggest test for the Caps so far this season, and the difficulties may continue further as the star is said to be week-to-week as opposed to day-to-day.

So far this season there have been only 3 games in which Alex Ovechkin has been kept to no points – the 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers in early October, the 5-4 win over the Atlanta Thrashers in late October, and Sunday’s loss to the Blue Jackets, in which he only managed 7 minutes 43 seconds of ice time before he was injured. The Caps are heavily reliant on Ovechkin, but are insistent that they are not a one-man team. Line-mate Nick Backstrom was quoted as saying “we have to show we can play without him”, and the Swedish centre will be key if the Capitals are to come through the period, however long it is, without too much damage done.

Ovie’s absence will presumably pave the way for Mike Knuble to join Semin and Backstrom on the top line, and Semin will no doubt be expected to at least partially fill Ovechkin’s boots. A big question being raised after the targeting of the Caps’ star player during the Jackets game, is whether or not Washington needs an enforcer on the roster? After the loss of Donald Brashear in the off-season, this was one of my biggest fears. The Caps have only picked up 3 fighting majors this season, and the lack of any really enforcer in the line-up may be leading the way for opposing teams to go after the superstars with little or no opposition.

However the more pressing issue is how will the Capitals fair without the great 8? Of course the team will be weakened, and defense may become a more important aspect of the game with Ovechkin’s goals taken out of the equation, but with players like Semin and Backstrom still around, expect the Caps to show they are not a one-man team.

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Discussion

5 comments for “Ovechkinless”

  1. I have a feeling you might be surprised. Sometimes opposing teams develop a plan against your team as they’ve come to know it, but when you remove one component and your team dynamic changes, the opposition doesn’t quite know what to do.

    Posted by sharksfanNo Gravatar | November 4, 2009, 10:40 am
  2. That’s a good point. Players will also study the players that they’re supposed to be covering. Whoever was going to cover Ovechkin has to look at somebody else now, and that may get a little confusing. However, I still think it will be easier for the defender. The other thing is that the Capitals have to change their strategy in general. The Devils will have to guess at what the strategy is for a little bit before they notice anything.

    Posted by EricNo Gravatar | November 4, 2009, 12:16 pm
  3. You are right with this being a good test for Washington. It is extremely difficult losing your star player, but depth is essential. This also gives the opportunity for other players to step up.

    Posted by pittpenNo Gravatar | November 4, 2009, 12:26 pm
  4. our depth has improved this year and we have players who can take over, like semin and backstrom, and mike knuble will bring a bit of physicality to the top line which we will lose with ovechkin’s absence, so i am actually quite confident. a question in my mind is will knuble work well with semin and backstrom? or will boudreau put brooks laich on the top line? as he has had a great start to the season. ovechkin is a massive loss, but we have shown that we have other staqr players who can win us games

    Posted by colonelbagpussNo Gravatar | November 4, 2009, 12:44 pm
  5. [...] post from penaltykill.net called “Ovechkinless” talked about the lines that the Caps would have to use [...]

    Posted by Tips For Hockey » Blog Archive » What Does Ovechkin’s Injury Mean for the Caps | November 4, 2009, 5:21 pm

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