The Washington Times - March 23, 2011, 10:54AM

First it was Jason Arnott skating circles in a Capitals warm-up suit as he tries to bounce back from injury. Then Alex Ovechkin stepped onto the ice in full uniform and pads along with goalies Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov and forward Matt Hendricks.

He quickly left the ice as the rest of his teammates came on for the morning’s optional practice.


Ovechkin, who missed his first game of the season Tuesday night, was scheduled to be out seven to 10 days. He said he felt good and estimated when he’d be back.

“I don’t know, maybe like five to seven days,” he said.

Asked if he was surprised by the decision to sit him, Ovechkin said:

“I think right now we clinched playoff spot and right now all the organization focus about playoffs. I think right now is good time to, you know, make some rest for my body because I feel something a couple months. Right now it’s a good time to recover it and I feel good and be good in playoffs.”

The Caps haven’t released injury information on either Ovechkin or Arnott, who appeared to be stretching something in his lower body Wednesday morning.

“I’m feeling better,” Arnott said. “It’s getting better every day, so hopefully I’ll be back soon.”

He skated strides where he moved his legs from a natural position to far apart and back as he drifted along the ice near the boards. Later he skated around each faceoff circle before teammates joined him on the ice. Asked what he was trying to work on, Arnott was coy, saying “Just trying to get back on the ice.”

Coach Bruce Boudreau said both “might” travel this weekend to Ottawa and Montreal, though neither will play. He did admit that Ovechkin and Arnott were progressing quicker than expected.

“It wouldn’t surprise me to see them both playing by the end of next week,” Boudreau said.

Neither player would reveal the injury he’s suffering from. Arnott said it’s been “building up” for a while and that it’s something he’s had before. Ovechkin when prompted to explain what he was suffering from asked reporters to guess and ended the scrum.