Ovechkin ‘Unlikely' to Play Wednesday, Laviolette Unsure If Caps Will Have 18 Skaters

Alex Ovechkin 'unlikely' to play Wednesday originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Alex Ovechkin 'unlikely' to play Wednesday against the New York Rangers due to a lower-body injury, head coach Peter Laviolette told reporters on Tuesday.

Ovechkin came out of Monday's game after only one shift for 39 seconds. Just as he did after the game, Laviolette stressed on Tuesday that Ovechkin left as the injury still did not feel quite right and not because of any reaggregation or worsening of the injury.

"He went through the morning skate and he felt great," Laviolette said. "He went through a practice the day before and he felt great. There were no restrictions. No colored jerseys, no being held back and for whatever reason when he got into the warmup last night, it felt a little bit different. We didn't need to make a decision on it at that point because we weren't scratching a player to put him in the lineup. When he went out and he tried it in the first shift, he said it's just not right and we called it off."

After Monday's scare, it's natural for the Caps to be extra cautious with their star player. Washington has only four games remaining in the regular season before the playoffs begin so getting Ovechkin healthy now trumps whatever standings race the Caps may find themselves in within the East Division.

"The most important things is the playoffs and they're a ways away," Laviolette said. "I still feel like we're in good shape for that. But our level of concern is high to make sure that he's healthy."

Once again, the Caps could find themselves in a bind in terms of the lineup for Wednesday. With Ovechkin unlikely and T.J. Oshie dealing with the death of his father, the Caps may have to play with a shorthanded lineup.

The status for Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilya Samsonov is not yet known. Both players were held out Monday for disciplinary reasons after being late for a team function. When asked if they would be back, Laviolette said, "Right now we're working through things inside the room."

Even if Kuznetsov is available, however, the Caps may still be shorthanded. Justin Schultz has a lower-body injury leaving the team with only six defensemen, and with Oshie and Ovechkin both unlikely to play, the Caps appear to have only 11 forwards available even with Kuznetsov.

When asked if the Caps would have 18 skaters for Wednesday's game, Laviolette said, "I don't have an answer."

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