If Caps captain Chris Clark didn't look like himself this season -- at least when he wasn't a healthy scratch -- we now know why: He's been nursing a wrist injury since the fall. GM George McPhee says that Clark is likely to need surgery, which would basically end his season.
After the promise of his 30-goal season, he's now had two injury marred seasons. As much as he seems to be respected by the players on the team, it's hard to provide leadership when he's not pulling a sweater on.
The Caps are going to miss the grit he theoretically provided. He clearly wasn't right this season, but the Caps were counting on him to be the mucker in the middle, doing some of the dirty work for the skaters who play with a little more finesse. With his struggles, Brooks Laich, it seems, has filled the role a bit, but it's a role that McPhee might look to fill as the trading deadline comes closer.
While injuries aren't ever a good thing, there is a bit of a bright side to Clark's injury. If he goes on the long term injured reserve list, it essentially frees up some cap space to give the team a bit more flexibility down the stretch. Plus, with the way Clark's wonky wing was bugging him, he clearly wasn't the player the Caps needed him to be.
In the short term, the Caps might turn to defenseman Karl Alzner. They'd let the current forwards on the roster fill in -- something that's likely to continue to benefit Eric Fehr.
The Caps have dealt exceedingly well with injuries all season, which is certainly a testament to Bruce Boudreau's coaching, but also to the pure brilliance of Alexander the Great. Clark's loss is not a good thing, but given his recent play, it's one that likely hurts more on paper and for the atmosphere of the clubhouse than on the team's points total.