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Alex Ovechkin to miss Friday's game - what are the Capitals without him?

Rory Boylen
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Author: The Hockey News

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Alex Ovechkin to miss Friday's game - what are the Capitals without him?

Rory Boylen
By:

What are the 5-7-0 Washington Capitals without Alex Ovechkin? We'll find out in a short-term window Friday night, when Ovechkin will miss his team's game against the Flyers. But if Ovechkin's time out is any longer than that, it could get ugly for the Capitals.

What are the 5-7-0 Washington Capitals without Alex Ovechkin? We'll find out in a short-term window Friday night, when Ovechkin will miss his team's game against the Flyers. But if Ovechkin's time out is any longer than that, it could get ugly for the Capitals.

Ovechkin, who missed Wednesday's skate with an upper-body injury, won't travel with the team to Philadelphia, according to the Washington Post. The Caps haven't elaborated on what the injury is yet, but it occurred early in the first period of Washington's 3-2 loss to Vancouver Monday night. The Post's Katie Carrera, through multiple viewings, believes the injury happened on this play, when Ovechkin was tripped by Alex Edler and fell into Roberto Luongo:

Ovechkin will inevitably be charged by some as a reason why Washington has struggled to get to and stay at .500 this season, because that's part of the role of the face of a franchise, I guess. But if this ends up being something more serious and he has to miss multiple games, we'll quickly find out just what the Capitals are in a world without Ovi. And it won't be pretty.

First of all, let's go back to last season, when Ovechkin's second half surge lifted the Caps from the draft lottery and into the playoffs with their seventh and final Southeast Division title. In only four of Washington's 27 wins did Ovechkin not get a point. And after he started his tear of 36 points over the final 23 games of the regular season (a run that lifted him to the Hart Trophy), Washington turned around from a 10-14-1 team to one that finished 27-18-3.

Ovechkin may not be the most reliable player on the defensive side of the puck, but he creates a ridiculous amount of chances around the goal. It's well documented how often he shoots the puck - he has 75 shots through 12 games this season - but Washington's opportunities don't end after the puck leaves his stick. Check out this piece from Japers' Rink on what happens in the moments after Ovechkin shoots. Basically, the argument can be made that 21 percent of Washington's even strength goals from 2007-2012 (the time over which this study covered) either came directly off Ovechkin's stick, or happened after he was involved in some way.

This season, Ovechkin's key role in Washington's offense is apparent yet again, even though they're off to a middling start. In each of Washington's wins he has scored at least one goal - and in games in which he didn't register a point, the Caps are 0-4.

Nicklas Backstrom may be the most rounded player on his team, but he simply isn't a driver of production on the same level as Ovechkin. In fact, no one in the NHL creates as much on his own as No. 8.

The last time Ovechkin missed a game to injury, the Caps lost 5-2 to Ottawa. At least Friday's game is against the struggling Flyers - and if Ovi has to miss a second contest, the Caps get another soft touch against Florida on Saturday.

Anything beyond that and the Caps could be in some trouble. And that's saying something about a team in the weak Metropolitan Division.

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Alex Ovechkin to miss Friday's game - what are the Capitals without him?