Today (Thursday) the Capitals had a practice described by Washington Post beat writer Tarik El-Bashir as a practice of "high magnitude". After a day off, coach Bruce Boudreau was teaching his system and refining aspects that may fallen astray in the playoffs. All players participated, except one, and that would be one Alex Ovechkin.
The team and player, as you would definitely expect during the NHL playoffs would call it just an extra day of "rest" and that there are no phyiscal problems.
In that video on the first link, El-Bashir floats a theory that Ovechkin definitely is not at 100%. He cites an insider saying Ovechkin was skating a little more upright during game 7 against the Rangers Tuesday night and then speculated it could be a lower body injury. El-Bashir guessed perhaps a groin or hamstring was at issue.
But, superstar players miss practice all the time. Mario Lemieux would hardly ever practice. Then again, Mario was almost always dealing with some kind of injury. Ovechkin lead all NHL forwards with 23:00 minutes of ice-time in the regular season, and his 22:56 of TOI for the playoffs is the 4th highest (though no forward has more playoff ice-time than AO's 160:38, he's the leader there by almost 10 minutes).
So it's indisputable that Ovechkin is the player the Caps lean on and just missing a practice could be simply for rest. However there's another wrinkle that shows Ovechkin is a little more banged up than he and the Capitals are letting on to.
Dmitry Kapitonov, Ovechkin's Russian trainer, has come to Washington to work with the player. Alex says of Kapitonov, "He's not my doctor, he's my trainer". But El-Bashir says that Kapitonov does come to America when AO has a nagging injury to give him treatment.
What's the bottom line? Definitely don't expect Ovechkin to miss Game 1 on Saturday afternoon. If they are playing that game, he will be there. But a lot of signs are pointing towards that he's not going to be 100%. And, given how Ovechkin was jumping around after Sergei Fedorov's series clinching goal (pictured above), it's safe to say he's going to be more concerned about the game than whatever is bothering him. But it bears watching if this condition will affect Ovechkin's play throughout the series.