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Why is Alex Ovechkin not playing for Capitals vs. Panthers on Thursday?

We go over why the All-Star LW isn’t playing for Washington.

Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals reacts during the third period of the game against the San Jose Sharks at Capital One Arena on February 12, 2023 in Washington, DC. Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Washington Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin remains one of the top goal-scorers in the NHL despite being 37 years old and in the midst of his 18th season in the League. Ovechkin and the Capitals find themselves in a fight for a Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference as we continue in the second half of the NHL season. We go over why Ovechkin isn’t playing for the Capitals and when he may be back with the team.

Alex Ovechkin lineup status update

Right now, Ovechkin is away from the team due to the death of his father Mikhail. It’s well documented how close the two were and Ovechkin announced the news on his Instagram, asking to not be disturbed. Ovechkin is back in Moscow, where his father had to go while dealing with health issues.

Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette told reporters that he doesn’t expect Ovechkin to be back in the “foreseeable future.” So this could be an extended absence for the left wing. If that’s the case, the Capitals are already pretty shorthanded with D John Carlson and wing Tom Wilson also sidelined.

With Ovie out, the Capitals have a top line of Anthony Mantha, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Conor Sheary. Nicklas Backstrom is centering the second line with Sonny Milano and Marcus Johansson. The first power play will feature T.J. Oshie, Dylan Strome, MoJo, Backstrom and Erik Gustafsson. It will be difficult to compensate for the loss of Ovechkin both at even-strength and on the man-advantage.

The Capitals face the Florida Panthers on Thursday night before taking on the Carolina Hurricanes in the NHL Stadium Series game at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina on Saturday night.