- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 28, 2006

TORONTO — The Washington Capitals maintained yesterday that star left wing Alex Ovechkin would be in the lineup when the team faces the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight.

“That’s the plan,” Washington general manager George McPhee said while his team practiced at Air Canada Centre.

Ovechkin, who played for Russia in the Winter Olympics, and Olie Kolzig, who was in goal for Germany, were not on the ice.

Their absence was not unexpected. Kolzig was spending time with his family after the Games and is not scheduled to rejoin the Caps until today. A team spokesman said Ovechkin was not expected in Toronto until some time last night.

But Ovechkin jammed his left wrist in the first period of the bronze medal game against the Czech Republic, and television showed trainers wrapping the wrist in bandages. He finished the game, but the Russians were shut out for a second consecutive game.

McPhee said he saw the collision between Ovechkin and a Czech defender that resulted in the injury but had no other information. He complained, as have other NHL general managers, about a lack of information being supplied by national teams about injuries to star players.

Coach Glen Hanlon said he has been just as uninformed as the media.

“But knowing Ovechkin, things have to be pretty difficult for him before he won’t play,” he said.

Ovechkin missed just one of the Caps’ first 56 games, when he sat out with a sore groin against the New York Islanders on Jan. 31. Nonetheless, the 20-year-old is second in the league in points since New Year’s with 25, trailing leader Jaromir Jagr by two. He is fourth overall in the league with 36 goals.

Meanwhile, McPhee confirmed that defenseman Brendan Witt will be traded before the March 9 deadline. He declined to comment on how many offers he has received for Witt, who requested a trade before the season.

“We don’t know what’s going to transpire, what team it’s going to be,” McPhee said. “When the right deal is there, it will happen and we’ll evaluate the trade from there.”

McPhee said Witt will continue to play until he is traded. The team had no plans to sit him to ensure he won’t be injured.

The front-runners appear to be Nashville and Vancouver. The Canucks have lost three top defensemen in the past few weeks.

The game tonight is the first of three straight on the road (Ottawa and Atlanta follow) for Washington, with the Caps playing six of the next seven at home. Then they finish the season playing 12 of their last 15 games on the road.

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