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Ovechkin Out Tomorrow (Updated)

Alex Ovechkin won't face the Predators tomorrow because he has returned to Russia to be with his ill grandfather. How much time Ovechkin, who left D.C. yesterday, will miss isn't clear, but the Caps don't play again until Saturday so perhaps it will be only one game.

Tomorrow's game, which will not be televised because of Versus's exclusivity rights, will be only the second game the reigning MVP has missed in his three-plus seasons. In fact, he's played 203 games in a row, some through injuries. He sat out one game is rookie season because of a groin strain.

Update:In practice, Brooks Laich has replaced Ovechkin on the top line with Nicklas Backstrom and Viktor Kozlov.

The rest of the lineup looks like this:
Fehr-Fedorov-Semin (Steckel)
Fleischmann-Nylander-Clark
Brashear-Gordon-Bradley

I'm just speculating here, but could it be Coach Boudreau is considering moving Fedorov back to defense and using Steckel as the second line center?
Though I'm not really sure you can label a line with Semin "second" anymore. Semin, is, of course, tied for the league lead with Evgeni Malkin with 14 points.

*A few more notes and quotes from practice:

GM George McPhee said Ovechkin called him last night to tell him about his grandfather.

"I'm not sure how tough the decision was for him, he was basically looking for permission to go," McPhee said. "Family is more important than anything and you go and come back when you're ready."

Boudreau said: "It's tough because it had nothing to do with team, it has everything to do with family. It's like everybody here, if a loved one, who was very close to us, was not in good health, we would feel the same way. Sometimes he bottles it up. But you can tell from the way he relates with his mother and father that they've got a very close family relationship."

I asked both McPhee and Boudreau whether they thought maybe his grandfather's health had been weighing on him in recent days or weeks. Both said they did not know and had not asked.

"Who knows?" Boudreau said. "I just said, 'You have to get going home.' Because it's more important that he be with his family at a time like this."

*Laich on taking Ovechkin's place on the top line:

"I'm just going to keep doing the same things," he said. "I'm not going to try to become Alex Ovechkin ...I'm might try to put a couple through my legs, but only early in the game."

*Brent Johnson will start tomorrow against the Predators (4-4-0)

*Looks Like Fedorov will remain up front and perhaps Steckel will skate on the left wing of the second line with Fedorov and Semin. If that happens, Fehr will be the odd man out.

*Tom Poti (groin muscle) said he's aiming to return Saturday, but with the Capitals being so cautious with groin injuries, I'm thinking it could be longer.

*Semin on how many goals he hopes to score this season:

"I want to score as many goals as possible," he said through Sport-Express reporter Slava Malamud, who was our interpreter today. "But it's really bad luck to set numerical goals for yourself. Remember last year, I got injured. Where they hell were my goals then? I don't want to do that."

*Semin on sharing the league lead in points with Malkin:

"It gives you some confidence because you're doing what people expect you to do," he said. "Right now I feel like I have to keep it up, I have to get better and help the team keep winning."


By Tarik El-Bashir  |  October 27, 2008; 10:20 AM ET
 
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Next: Ovechkin Could Miss Two Games

Comments

Our thoughts and prayers with OV and his family!

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | October 27, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Take the time to get of your slump, OV. We're thinking about you and your family.

Posted by: Semvechkin | October 27, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone think OV's "slump" is related to his mind and heart being elsewhere? For what its worth, I feel he will still get his 50 plus goals and lead the Caps to a nice playoff run.

Posted by: TimDz | October 27, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

This is from an old interview with Ovie and his mother is quoted as well. It looks like Ovie is very close to his Grandfather.

http://alexovetjkin.blogspot.com/2008/07/interview-to-sport-express-july-18-2008.html

"Our grandfather, my father, is even more amazing! Modest and kind. When Alex was born, he was not even one month old, grandpa moved in with us. His work became a secondary thing, he was babysitting Alex. He fed him, walked him while I was at work. He was taking him to the training, traveled to many games. He carried his duffel bag. Now he is really proud of his grandson. Just couldn't reach Washington yet. He is old."

Posted by: SA-Town | October 27, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Our hearts and prayers are with you and your family, OV.

Posted by: caryh | October 27, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully, this will give Ovie a chance to get re-energized mentally -- I think he's just fine physically. Thoughts and prayers to his family, and hope to see him back soon!

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | October 27, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Oh gods. That explains -SO MUCH!-

Thoughts and prayers with the whole Ovechkin family...

Posted by: irockthered | October 27, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Take your time OV.

No worries. We still got more than enough fire power to put away the Preds.

Posted by: DannyBoy1975 | October 27, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Whoa. Oh, man, that explains a lot. His mind is on things other than hockey, and understandably so.

My thoughts and prayers are with Ovi and his family during this time, and I wish him all the best. Come back rested, re-energized, and with mind and heart clear.

Tarik, is Sloan still playing?

Posted by: kittypawz | October 27, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

This really stinks. I mean, I wish his family well and all, but I'm pretty bummed about this.

Russian machine still has soft heart.

Posted by: cupcrzy | October 27, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Not to play dime store shrink, but maybe OV's lack of production is in part due to the distraction of his GF's health off the ice.

Two other random comments: 1. This new Versus "exclusive" arrangement stinks. It doesn't matter here, becuase I'll be at the game (probably), but there are other games that I would ordinarily watch on center ice that now I can't. *Bleep* you, Versus. Please stick to bull riding.

I know Tarik said Turco stunk other than a few big saves, but I actually thought the big saves he made were REALLY big. If you let in the easy ones and make the insane ones, you can still win, sometimes. There were at least two or three where I was certain there was a goal coming, and he did something crazy good.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | October 27, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I'm not gonna speculate about Ovie's production, and how his family matters are affecting his numbers.

You could say that a family issue could motivate you and make you play better...so it's not really worth it to go there.

He is still in his young 20's so we should be weary about trying to link this personal issue into how he produces on the ice.

Posted by: SA-Town | October 27, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Take the time you need Ovie. Thoughts and prayers with Ovie and his family.

The Caps will be ok provided we get scoring from someone other than Semin. With Ovie out, teams will focus energy one shuting him down. It would be a great time for Flash to step up.

Posted by: Grape8 | October 27, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Gotta admit, though - there are a lot of sighs of relief somewhere in Nashville this morning.

I'm a little concerned - Ovi's been drawing a lot of the opposing D, and he's had some real contributions that aren't goal-scoring. I think we are going to sorely miss him on Tuesday. Let's hope our D straightens up, seriously. Nashville isn't that bad.

Posted by: kittypawz | October 27, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

My thoughts and prayers are with Alex and his family. Its hard when someone you love and are so close to is ill.

But on a brighter note, that gives Laich a chance to play top line. He's probably the only guy I've seen that's played consistently pretty well every game. Granted no Semin-like point totals, but sound, defensive hockey when it seemed like no one else was. Hope playing with Backs and Koz give him a chance to put a few behind Ellis.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | October 27, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

There are several things more important than hockey, and this is one of them. With someone as important to AO as his G-Father appears to have been, I'm sure they talked a lot, and I'm sure that AO knew that he wasn't doing too well. This just makes our gift of AO that much more impressive. To be as technically skilled as he is and to have heart, he's much more than a self-described "Russian machine" that doesn't break.

Posted by: Greg S. | October 27, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Wow that sucks for Ovie and his family. thoughts and prayers.

Posted by: goskinsgo | October 27, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Sloan is still here.

--Tarik

Posted by: el_bashir | October 27, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

I say swap Brads and Fehr. Bradley has been going harder and has gotten scoring chances when he's been given ice time this year.

Crazy? Not really.

Posted by: _jordan | October 27, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Player power rankings are out on TSN. Overall, Semin is #2, Green #3. For Defensemen, Green is #1. Of Centers, Nylander is #13.

Posted by: Greg S. | October 27, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Tarik. Also must ask: What does the PP look like, minus Ovi?

I think it's cool that Laich and Fehr are getting their shots at the top two lines.

Posted by: kittypawz | October 27, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Jordan,

I shot you an e-mail for the game tomorrow.

Posted by: Steve_R | October 27, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

That's tough news for the Ovechkin family. Thoughts and prayers are with them.

I'm glad to see Fehr lining up with the Semin and Fedorov line. I think Fehr can produce if he manages to get more than 8 minutes a game.

Posted by: SombreroGuy | October 27, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I guess Semin has been playing the Ovechkin so far this year in that he's producing regardless of his center, but I'm kind of tired of the line juggling. We need some consistency, here.

Granted, I know it's in part due to injury (to Kozlov), but I think we need to not panic (like when Feds played on the 1st line in Phoenix) and just keep lines together. We know they work, we just need to let them work.

But I am curious to see the PP. If the PP does well tomorrow night, hopefully they'll put Ovechkin back on the wall and not on the point -- the less defensive responsibility he has, the more effective he is on the PP, in my opinion.

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | October 27, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Steckel as 2nd line center huh? So from scratched to 2nd line? I like Steckel and think he could be a really solid player. What's that say about Nylander though if Steckel jumps him in the rotation? And would you really move Fedorov back to D after that performance in Dallas?

Posted by: WVPhil | October 27, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Puts a lot of things in perspective. I hope he takes all the time he needs.

A state from the game saturday that OV had 4 goals through just as many games last season, so he is only 2 behind. He'll be fine.

Posted by: Leeguru | October 27, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I agree with WVPhil.

BB needs to make up his mind and stop churning through the lines. Line mates need playing time to gel together. BB seems to be making his decisions based solely on the performance of last game.

Posted by: DannyBoy1975 | October 27, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Not trying to sound cold hearted but he went into a slump last year when that Russian girl came to DC after he met her online. When she left he went crazy with goals. I agree that his grandpa's illness probably has distracted him.

On another note why is the game blacked out just because its on Versus? There have been other games on Versus. Is it a sellout issue?

Posted by: MKadyman | October 27, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Is the game blacked out locally on Versus, or just not on Comcast Sportsnet?

Posted by: Baildog | October 27, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

You can't really blame Versus for wanting a exclusive window. IIRC Fox has a blackout for baseball for Sat. afternoons. NFL has a whole bunch of blackout rules. I'm sure there are NBA blackouts. Blame Bettman for scheduling multiple games on a Tuesday when he probably doesn't need to.

Posted by: koalatek | October 27, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I blame the NHL for the game not being on TV tomorrow. If they were smart they would only have one game scheduled on Tuesday at 7 since that is the VS timeslot. That way you dont have 3 or 4 games that cant be shown on TV.

Posted by: _Tim | October 27, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Leeguru:
I heard that stat, too, and thought the same thing. He had a slow start last season but he found his game - I can only imagine that is the case this season, as well. It does not help that he is dealing with family issues on top of everything - I hope everything turns out OK for his grandfather and his entire family.

RE: Weight's hit, I thought it was interesting that when they were helping Sutter off the ice, Gleason gave him the ol' buddy head tap/shake ... not sure I would have done that to someone who might have a major head or neck injury! Anyway, glad to hear that it sounds like he is OK:
http://www.freep.com/article/20081027/SPORTS14/810270372/1062

BTW, anyone else surprised that Johnny's gettin' the start tomorrow?

Posted by: Boo- | October 27, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

How many goals has Johnny allowed so far this season? I'm not surprised, he's played well.

Hopefully Tom Groini, I mean Groin Poti, I mean Tom Poti can come back and save our D, which has looked pretty bad.

Posted by: _jordan | October 27, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

DannyBoy1975,
I wasn't saying that I think he shouldn't shake up the lines. Truthfully, I think the whole "lines" thing is a bit over-rated. You role with whoever is playing best that game. Lines get changed on the fly, people come on and off due to penalties, etc.
The real question right now is where does Nyls fit into the system? We essentially signed him as a free agent to be the number 1 center and by all signs, it looks like he is more like number 4. Not sure if he hasn't gotten back into shape yet or just doesn't fit right now.

Posted by: WVPhil | October 27, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Semin sounds like he has finally matured...it's real nice to see

Posted by: caryh | October 27, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Jordan:
Oh I know that Johnny has played OK (at times better than JT), but Jose seems to be playing better lately than he was when the season started - I thought BB was a 'hot hand' kinda coach. That's all.

Posted by: Boo- | October 27, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Tyler Sloan has more goals than Clark ,Brash,Backstrom,Kozlov and Fehr.
gee why are we losing hockey games to lesser teams? Because thats what we are playing like.

Posted by: wendel2 | October 27, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, the scheduling of another game during the Versus window is stupid. Because I'll still be listening to the Caps game online and ignoring VS.

There's seven games tomorrow night, but two feature Canadian teams (and available on TV) and three are on the West Coast and start after the VS game.

Living in Tennessee, it's a shame I can't watch my Capitals play the "hometown" team.

Posted by: Cerealman | October 27, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Boo,

No doubt Jose has looked better recently. I guess what I'm trying to say is that Johnny has more than proven that he's capable of taking on a big game when we need or want him to so far this season. So I'm not surprised!

Posted by: _jordan | October 27, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Also, why does the VS window only apply on Tuesday nights? Why not Monday nights too?

Not that I'm championing for that. But the Chicago-Minnesota game is on VS tonight at 8, yet none of the other NHL games have their television rights blacked out. Quick, let's move the Capitals game against Nashville to Wednesday night. :)

Posted by: Cerealman | October 27, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

You do what you have to do Alex, we'll be here and ready to cheer when you get back.

In the meantime, isn't it nice to have another Sasha? I've been saying for a while now that Semin needed to mature a little and was likely bored when games didn't seem to count. I think between more experience, higher expectations and the two older Russians providing guidance and maybe a little of the 'comfort of familiarity,' his head's finally in a good place. I'd love to see him get some hardware this year.

Anybody want to join me in not watching the game on versus? They are just trying to push up the demand curve for their game, if we prove them wrong, maybe they'll quit that tactic?

Posted by: TheCapitalist1 | October 27, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Apparently VS is allowed to pick a "game of the week" or something like that. On the nights of the game they have identified, they are the only ones allowed to broadcast hockey (in the US). I had to look this stuff up last week because I was totally confused. If you look later in the season, it happens on another Tuesday against Fla. However, it's not every Tuesday, because some Tuesday games are televised. Hockey needs to be back on ESPN!

Posted by: WVPhil | October 27, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Caps fans visit the Caps latest blog at:
http://capsstop.blogspot.com

Go Caps!

Posted by: bagasome | October 27, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

from what i've seen this year, I wouldn't say Ovie has been slumping with his play. He's been giving it all with his body and physical play (something I'd expect to see less of if his head wasn't in the game).

What i've seen is that he's been tight with his stick. not taking passes softly, losing pucks with his moves.

If I had a guess, i'd say it's just him trying too hard. Hopefully when he comes back, he will realize that there is more important things then forcing goals, and in doing so, he will play with the loose love of the game that made him an elite scorer. It's his ability to turn nothing into something by being creative that is his strength. That comes when you feel comfortable out there, and not trying to force it.

Whoa be the team that has to face us when Ovy and Semin are both seeing the goal look like the size of a soccer goal!!

Posted by: fricknoutstandin | October 27, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

There's more...
http://alexovetjkin.blogspot.com/2008/10/ovechkins-out-due-to-family-illness.html

Update:

I found one article (May 8, 2008) where Alex speaks about his Grandpa. His Grandpa's name is Nikolai and he is almost 80 years old. This was about a Victory Day (The Russia's World War 2 victory over Nazi Germany) which is also a Memorial Day in Russia. SovSport asked several hockey players what the Victory Day meant to them.

Alexander Ovechkin:

My grandfather Nicholai fought [in the World War 2]. He is old, almost 80. Every time I call him on May 9th to congratulate him on the occasion. Frankly he told me very little about the war. He doesn't want to share the memories, it was a difficult time, he is holding it to himself... If I was in Moscow on the Victory Day, I always tried to watch the parade on Red Square. I take this opportunity to congratulate all our Veterans. A bow to you for your deeds!

Posted by: CodePoetry | October 27, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Point of discussion...........Is Fehr turning out to be this years Eminger? Not playing much and not realy given a chance.

Posted by: RichC3 | October 27, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

New thread! :-)

Posted by: Boo- | October 27, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

First of all I like how the team puts family first even when it's one of our best players that is going through hard times back home. My thoughts and prayers are with them.

On the home front. I agree with those who have mentioned Semin and his maturity level. He's finally putting together his world class talent that the caps saw in him at only 16 years old. He can easily score 40-50 goals in this league playing with the heart and passion he's showed so far this season.

As for steckel on the second line.. Huh? Makes no sense to me that BB would put him there after saying Stecks has been playing poorly recently. I think giving Fehr a chance on a scoring line will really help his development. Afterall, who wouldn't play better with Feds and Semin on the same line? This would finally be his chance to prove to the organization he's got what it takes to play on this team. If he fails, this may be the last chance he gets from the caps.

Lets hope we build off of last games win (without all the goals against of course) and put together a nice streak.

Lets Go Caps!

Posted by: TowsonCapsFan | October 27, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

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