Can Injury to Alex Ovechkin Make the Capitals Stronger?

Jarrett CarterAnalyst INovember 2, 2009

WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 01:  Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals holds his shoulder as he is escorted to the penalty box after receiving a roughing penalty in the second period against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Verizon Center on November 1, 2009 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Greg Fiume/Getty Images


The Washington Capitals don’t have a problem with talent, coaching, or ownership. They don’t want for adoration from fans or respect throughout the NHL. But resolve has always been the weakest part of their team make up; the ability to win with expectation and to play as if failure doesn’t exist.

That’s why the injury to Alex Ovechkin isn’t just significant ; it’s almost necessary for this team to learn success in the absence of ease and comfort.

It would be to easy for the Capitals to fall apart in Ovechkin’s absence and blame it on a dimmed spotlight. His stardom , athleticism and playmaking intuition may be the largest subtitle in a context of the emerging Capitals franchise, but this is a team that isn’t short on defensive prowess and offensive options. Between Nicklas Backstrom , Alexander Semin, and Mike Green, you would think that the Caps have enough bodies to throw at the opposition for the duration of Ovechkin’s absence.

But that’s a "best-case" scenario: Washington is far more familiar with robust "worst cases ."

There is fortune to be found in the misfortune of Ovechkin’s injury. The Capitals, even as a newly-created powerhouse in the Eastern Conference, have to respond like champions in the absence of their hero. They have to avoid overtime finishes, and stay at the current pace that keeps them even with the Pittsburgh Penguins in points.

If they can, they are a legitimate lock for a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals. If they can’t, it will be a big eraser to Washington’s designs on becoming a genuine hockey town.