Brooks Orpik had a fractured femur early in the season and a concussion in the first round of the playoffs. Jay Beagle broke his hand and his grip strength was at 70 percent when he returned to the lineup. John Carlson needed a “procedure” to repair a broken ankle.
But the Capitals’ most devastating injury of the season came in the final game of the playoffs when franchise Iron Man Karl Alzner felt his groin pop early in Game 6 on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.
Having played through a broken thumb, a strained oblique and a hip flexor, Alzner said the worst experience in his hockey career came in the second period against the Penguins, when he took two shifts and was forced to watch the Pens score twice on the power play to take a 3-0 lead.
“It was hard to see that we had done such a good job on the PK the whole playoffs and then for them to finally get two goals,” Alzner said. “And to be watching it from the bench, that part was hard for me to see. I’m very proud of the guys and the way they were able to come back in the third, that was phenomenal, but not a fun 20 minutes of my life.”
Alzner said a cortisone injection helped “calm down” his groin injury and he felt the best he had all series before Game 6.
“And then it was just kind of a weird one-two movement and I just felt it pop and we went in and had a look at it.”
It was decided Alzner would be hurting the Capitals more than helping them if he continued playing. As a result, John Carlson logged more than 33 minutes and Matt Niskanen logged more than 30 minutes.
“Obviously, he's a warrior,” Caps center Jay Beagle said. “I'm not even sure how long he had that or how many guys knew. I think he was battling it for a little bit, so to see him not be able to finish that last game, I know was tough on him. I'll never forget the look on his face after that game.”
Alzner said he should know after this weekend whether he will require surgery.
“I’m hoping not,” he said. “I’m not a fan of surgery, but I’m also not a doctor, so we’ll figure out what they decide.”
Alzner appears to be the only Capital who could require surgery in the offseason, but that could change. Last year on breakup day Nicklas Backstrom said he was healthy in the playoffs, then underwent hip surgery that required an entire summer of rehabilitation.