The Washington Capitals have announced that star forward Alex Ovechkin and three others will be out during COVID-19 quarantine and put on the absentee list. The others are Ilya Samsonov, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Dmitry Orlov. The team was fined earlier this week for breaking protocol. Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press announced the absences early Thursday afternoon.
Capitals coach Peter Laviolette says four COVID-19 protocol players — Alex Ovechkin, Ilya Samsonov, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov — are in quarantine and he believes they'll miss the next four games.
— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) January 21, 2021
Capitals Lose Alex Ovechkin and Others
This has the potential to be huge. Ovechkin and Kuznetsov have combined for two goals and eight points through the team’s first four games. They both average more than 15 minutes of ice time per contest and have 24 of Washington’s 98 shots. A loss of that magnitude, even for only a short time. This is huge when you consider that the season is only 56 games. Assuming they are able to return after four games as their coach thought, that is still almost 1/10 of the remaining schedule. Washington will only have 48 games, max, to try and make up any ground if their absence causes the team to falter.
Losing Orlov and Samsonov doesn’t help either. Orlov has no points, but he does have credit for six hits and six blocks while contributing to the penalty-killing unit. He’s been one of the more reliable defenders even without the points. Samsonov is the goalie of the future, but he has struggled in two starts with a .868 save percentage and 3.36 goals-against-average. The young Russian was already playing poorly. Missing practices and starts certainly can’t help at this early stage.
How Washington Replaces Pieces
The easiest replacement is Vitek Vanecek in the net while Samsonov is out. The 25-year-old has outperformed his notable colleague with a .902 save percentage and 2.97 goals-against-average. The Capitals also have veteran Craig Smith as back up and Pheonix Copley on its taxi squad.
It will be a combination of players that need to shoulder the load without Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, and Orlov. The team has no one obvious stud that can step into those minutes, so a team effort is necessary. Keep an eye on the next few games to see how the coaching staff shuffles players in the short-term.
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