As you can imagine, the main topic of tonight’s pre-game press conference with Bruce Boudreau was the loss of Caps center Michael Nylander to rotator cuff surgery. Here’s what the Caps bench boss had to say:
“Obviously, it’s not great. I just give him full marks for having the courage to play for the last three weeks or so until he couldn’t play anymore. He’s tried, and he’s taken days off as you guys have seen, and he just couldn’t go anymore. He has to get [the surgery] done. Unfortunately for us we’re just going to have to band together. Ottawa has lost [Dany] Heatley. And every team, if you go down the list, they lose good players. We’ve lost good players and we’ll have to survive without them.”
On what talent the Caps might have at Hershey to call upon:
“I’ve got a lot of faith in a lot of the guys who are still there. I know that when we were in Worcester on the last trip to Boston we thought [Chris] Bourque was our best player. And then all the scouts were [in Hershey] on Saturday night and they said Bourque again was maybe our best player. But you’ve got Eric Fehr playing and along with Joe Motzko and the guys I think there are some good forwards there.”
On whether the loss of Nylander will force a move of Alex Ovechkin down low on the power play:
“No, I think we’re deep enough where we can move [Tomas] Fleischmann or [Viktor] Kozlov into situations with what we want to do. And again, if none of that works then we might move Alex up there. But you look at an awful lot of the great players in the league — [Daniel] Alfredsson plays the point. [Vincent] Lecavalier, [Martin] St. Louis, [Brad] Richards they just move all over the place. A lot of the top forwards are playing the point because they can play most of the power play. Instead of 50 seconds, they play the whole power play and you’ve got a threat from that position. Besides Alex has played D besides the first two or three games since I’ve been here and he’s leading the league in goals on the power play. So I don’t know if it would be a prudent move to change him from there.”
Are you hoping George [McPhee] goes out and gets you some help?
“If he does, he does. But we’ll work with what we have and I think what we have is pretty good.”
Have you talked to Michael?
“I’ve talked to him obviously in the last month almost daily about it. He’s got the same injury that I had last year, so we talked a lot about it. Unfortunately for him and fortunately for me, I didn’t have to play. So it made it a lot easier for me. He is off today; he didn’t come into the rink today because he is going out to find out where he has to fly to get [the surgery] done.”
His offensive numbers are good, but the minus-19 is pretty glaring. Did the injury have something to do with that?
“Absolutely. His strength down low as a centerman where you have to compete against the big guys, that’s where Mike would come to me and say, ‘I feel so bad because you’re not seeing the real Michael Nylander.’ Because he couldn’t push off or anytime his arm got into that situation he would lose all strength. Unless you’ve had a rotator cuff injury, you don’t know how hard it is.”
When did it first develop?
“At one point he missed four games. I think that’s when it was first discovered. Like I said, more power to Mike. He wanted to battle through it. I give him great kudos. It is tough when you can’t lift your arm over your head and you can’t lift your arm sideways to just want to battle through and see if it gets better. But after time he realized that it wasn’t getting any better and the best thing for him and the team would be for him to get [the surgery] done.”
What did you tell the team?
“I think they all know. Our policy is somebody’s not there, as much as we love them and miss them, we’ve got to move on without them. So let’s not have a ‘woe is me’ situation and cry about it. Let’s just move somebody into that situation and go get them.”