Defenseman Karl Alzner and forward Marcus Johansson sat out Wednesday’s practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex but both are expected to be in the lineup on Thursday night when the Capitals visit the Florida Panthers in Sunrise.
“You take hits, you block shots and I’m just trying to let them heal up,” Caps coach Barry Trotz said. “You’ll see more of that. We’re starting to get to the point in the season where you might not see guys like (Alex Ovechkin) or (Nicklas Backstrom).
“It’s good guys have some injuries. It means they’re involved in the game. Everybody at this time is not 100 percent so you’ll probably see different players take different days off.”
Beginning with Tuesday night’s 3-2 overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings, the Capitals play every other night through Dec. 20 and play a total of eight games in 14 days leading up to a four-day break for Christmas.
There is a chance the Capitals will not have defenseman Brooks Orpik for any of those games. After an evaluation on his lower body injury it was determined that off-ice therapy might be a better approach than having Orpik skate.
Orpik was injured on Nov. 10 and twice has suffered setbacks when trying to resume skating. He was clearly frustrated when he left practice early on Monday and Trotz said the club will take a different approach with the 35-year-old blue liner.
“We didn’t find anything different, we’re just going to try a different recovery method,” Trotz said. “The one question we’re asking is, ‘Why isn’t it coming around quicker?’ They’re looking at all the different things and right now (the recommendation is) not skate.
“There will not be any surgery, I can probably guarantee you that. But I’m not a doctor.”
Grubauer sighting? Trotz said Philipp Grubauer will get one of the two starts in Florida. If he plays against the Panthers on Thursday it will be exactly three weeks from his previous start, a 3-2 home loss to the Dallas Stars.
Grubauer, 24, has played in just four games this season, going 2-1-1 with a 2.70 GAA and .900 save percentage. Last season in Hershey he played in 49 games, going 27-17-5 with a 2.30 GAA and .931 SP.
“It’s a change of mentality for someone who was a No. 1 goaltender playing every game,” said Trotz, who plans on meeting with goaltending coach Mitch Korn in Florida to discuss the goaltending rotation leading up to Christmas. “He’s had to reverse that and make his practices his games and that’s the biggest change. He’ll be prepared to go in when I tell him to go in.”