Alex Ovechkin Among Capitals Players Likely to Miss 4 Games Due to COVID Rules

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2021

Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin prepares for a face-off during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

Alex Ovechkin and three other Washington Capitals players may miss the next four games after violating COVID-19 protocols. 

According to Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press, Ovechkin, forward Evgeny Kuznetsov, defenseman Dmitry Orlov and goalie Ilya Samsonov are all in quarantine, and Caps head coach Peter Laviolette said he believes they will miss the next four contests.

Laviolette added that there was a positive test among Capitals players, which resulted in the NHL doing contact tracing, per Whyno.

The NHL fined the Capitals $100,000 this week for violating health and safety protocols. The league noted that the fine was specifically due to "social interactions among team members who were in close contact and who were not wearing face coverings."

According to ESPN's Greg Wyshynski, the NHL said the players violated protocol by "grouping together in a hotel room."

Per Whyno, Laviolette acknowledged that the team knew the rules and should have followed them: "We totally understand why the rules are in place and there's no arguing with that. We want to be compliant. We made a mistake and we need to do a better job."

The Capitals, who are tied for first in the East Division at 2-0-2, are scheduled to play four times in seven days starting Friday.

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Washington will host the Buffalo Sabres on Friday and Sunday before hosting the New York Islanders next Tuesday and Thursday.

If the aforementioned players miss all four of those games, the Capitals will be without some of their most important pieces.

Ovechkin is the team captain and one of the most prolific scorers in NHL history. He is eighth all-time with 707 career goals and has registered one goal and four assists through four games this season.

Kuznetsov is Washington's second-line center and a key part of the power play. He has three points through four games this season, has reached the 70-point mark three times in his career and registered 52 points in 63 games last season.

Orlov isn't much of an offensive contributor, but he is arguably the Capitals' best defensive defenseman and has logged an average of more than 20 minutes per game in each of the past three seasons. So far this season, he is playing 20:49 per contest.

Samsonov is just 23 years of age, but he is Washington's No. 1 goalie and owns a 1-0-1 record this season with a 3.36 goals-against average and .868 save percentage.

Without Samsonov in the lineup, Vitek Vanecek will likely serve as Washington's primary starter in the crease with Pheonix Copley and Craig Anderson also potentially figuring in.