The timetable for Nicklas Backstrom’s return from offseason hip surgery has been set at Nov. 1, with the possibility of him returning to the Capitals’ lineup sooner.
“As I said from Day 1, we’re looking at a worst-case scenario of maybe a 10-game type of thing if he has no setbacks and we’ll work from there,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “He’s been skating, so hopefully that timetable is going to be lessened.”
Backstrom underwent arthroscopic hip surgery on May 27. He has played in every Caps regular season game in six of his eight seasons in Washington.
“We’re just being cautious,” Trotz said. “He looks fine. He’s been getting a lot of good work and a lot of treatment. It’s going to be him and the doctors making sure our franchise player is not put at risk. That’s where we’re at. The timetable is set at November 1st. It may be before and I can’t tell you how much before, but we’re ready for if we go the distance (until Nov. 1).”
The Capitals open the regular season on Oct. 10 and play their 10th game of the regular season on Oct. 31. Their following game is on Nov. 3 in New York against the Rangers.
“He’s smart and he’s pretty patient with things,” Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “He’s smart. Nobody likes missing games and as frustrating as it might be for him, if he misses the first couple (games) of the season is a lot less frustrating than missing games when we need him going into the playoffs. It’s one of those things you don’t want to re-injure it and really set yourself back and kicking yourself because you missed more time than you should.”
Orpik (left wrist surgery) practiced for the first time with the Capitals on Friday but said he does not have complete strength and mobility and it seems unlikely he’ll dress for the Caps’ final preseason game on Sunday against the New York Islanders.
“It’s been a long three weeks,” Orpik said. “I’m lucky I had Nicky (Backstrom) but we were getting sick of each other.”
Orpik said playing on Sunday is a “possibility” but doesn’t want to rush things just to get in one preseason game.
“I couldn’t shoot until last week and even last week it was pretty weak,” he said. “There’s a little less pain and the strength is coming back slowly. Catching passes was the most painful thing in the beginning and that’s pretty much gone. It feels better and better every day, but it’s a little sore afterwards.”
Trotz said Orpik and Backstrom will have the final say on when they return.
“They know their bodies best,” he said.
Daddy time: Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen skipped practice to be with his wife, Katie, for the birth of their child.
“Like a good hockey wife she said shew would be induced,” Trotz said with a laugh. “I hope everything is going well with them and their new member of the family.”
Here’s a quick look at how the Caps are expected to look tonight when they play their sixth of seven preseason games:
Alex Ovechkin – Evgeny Kuznetsov – T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson – Derek Roy – Justin Williams
Brooks Laich – Jay Beagle – Tom Wilson
Liam O’Brien – Chandler Stephenson – Michael Latta
Nate Schmidt – John Carlson
Karl Alzner – Dmitry Orlov
Aaron Ness – Taylor Chorney
Braden Holtby (2 poeriods) – Philipp Grubauer (1 period)
Trotz said Roy, 32, will start the game on the second line and 30 minutes into the contest Stephenson, 21, will take his place.
“A true competition,” Trotz said.
Roy, who is on a professional tryout, said he has not been offered a contract by the Capitals. His agent has not returned messages left for him in his Ottawa office.
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