Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is sitting out tonight’s game against the Ottawa Senators and Troy Brouwer is expected to take his place on a top line with center Nicklas Backstrom and left wing Marcus Johansson.
Ovechkin, who leads the NHL with 35 goals in 47 games, has not missed a game since Nov. 1 and 2. The Capitals won both of those games by a combined score of 10-2. In fact, in the 23 games Ovechkin has missed in his career, the Capitals are 13-8-2.
The Caps’ second line will have Mikhail Grabovski between Jason Chimera and Eric Fehr, Brooks Laich between Marty Erat and Joel Ward, and Jay Beagle between Aaron Volpatti and Tom Wilson.
Tonight also marks the return of rookie defenseman Nate Schmidt, who will line up alongside rookie Connor Carrick on the Caps’ third defense pairing in place of John Erskine.
Schmidt was recalled by the Caps after the club assigned Steve Oleksy to the AHL Hershey Bears. Oleksy cleared NHL waivers at noon on Tuesday.
Oleksy tweeted out this thank you after his re-assignment:
“I just want to give everyone a shout out that has shown their support, not just in the last 24 hours but at any point in time. The people in my life and fans are truly the most underrated and most rewarding part of this business. Just know for me you are a driving force and inspiration behind it all and make smiling easy even on the cloudiest days. Thank you all. Cheers.“
Oleksy, 27, appeared in 33 games for the Capitals, registering two goals, 8 assists and a team-high plus-7 rating. He had not played for the Caps since Jan. 4.
“You don’t want a guy to sit too long," Capitals coach Adam Oates told reporters at Kettler on Tuesday morning. “It makes for a difficult position. You put him on waivers because [there’s] no other choice. You hope he gets picked up and gets a chance to play. He’s been great about it.”