Ovechkin: Day off for 'maintenance' man

Ovechkin: Day off for 'maintenance' man
October 19, 2011, 3:43 pm
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Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin sat out Wednesdays practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex with what the club termed a "maintenance day."

"He's got some bumps and bruises," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said following Wednesday's practice. "With two more games this week, we just told him to take off and get some stretching done."

The Capitals will take their 5-0-0 record into Philadelphia Thursday night against the 4-0-1 Flyers, then return home to face the 4-0-0 Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.

Ovechkin is coming off a season-low 17:35 in Tuesday nights 3-0 win over the Florida Panthers. Through five games this season Ovechkin is averaging 19:25 of ice time a game, which is still highest among Capitals forwards but far below the 21:21 of ice time Ovechkin averaged last season.

In fact, Ovechkin, who has just one goal and two assists this season, has averaged more than 21 minutes a game in each of first six NHL seasons.

"That doesn't matter," Laich said. "The coaches run the ship. The players don't run the ship. The players play as hard as they can when they're on the ice and when they're not they support the guys who are on the ice. If you're not doing that, then you're a selfish player, but nobody's done that."

There are two reasons for Ovevhkin's reduction of ice time, Boudreau said. The first is that the Capitals have had just 23:41 of power play time this season, second lowest in the NHL. The other is that Boudreau has committed himself to rolling four lines, especially now that the checking line of Brooks Laich, Jason Chimera and Joel Ward has been so effective with five goals and a plus-6 rating.

"Instead of Brooks' line getting 13 minutes, they're getting 17 minutes," Boudreau said. "Alex's line's minutes are going down. I think in the long run that will be beneficial to us. But there are going to be times I want (the top line) to stay out there longer."

Meanwhile, goaltender Michal Neuvirth cut his practice short because of a bruised right foot and right wing Jay Beagle missed his sixth straight day with what is believed to be concussion symptoms.

Neuvirth was the first player on the ice today but he was also the first player off.

Sidelined since bruising his right foot during pre-game warmups on Oct. 10 Neuvirth skated for about 15 minutes, shaking his right foot on occasion, before leaving the ice prior to the teams 11:30 a.m. practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

Dany Sabourin, who backed up Tomas Vokoun the past two games, participated in the practice and is expected to back up Vokoun again Thursday night when the 5-0-0 Caps visit the 4-0-1 Flyers.

Beagle remains sidelined with symptoms stemming from his Oct. 13 fight with Pittsburgh's Arron Asham.