Capitals defenseman John Carlson, sidelined since Feb. 24 with a lower body injury, participated in the Caps’ morning skate on Friday but is placing no timetable on his return to the lineup.
Carlson will miss his 11th straight game tonight when the Caps face the Nashville Predators at Verizon Center (7 p.m., CSN). He was placed on long-term injury reserve after undergoing an undisclosed procedure for a lower body injury.
A player on long-term injury reserve must miss a minimum of 10 games and 24 days before returning to the lineup, which means Carlson could return no sooner than Sunday night when the Capitals visit the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Capitals coach Barry Trotz said Carlson may not join the team on its trip to Pittsburgh and Ottawa (Tuesday), saying Carlson could benefit more from staying in D.C. and skating with conditioning coach Mark Nemish.
Following tonight the Capitals will have 12 games remaining in the regular season. Carlson said he will return to the lineup “as soon as it makes sense.”
Carlson first suffered the injury when he blocked a shot against the Montreal Canadiens on Dec. 26. He missed the next 12 games and returned to the lineup on Jan. 27. Carlson played the next 13 games, recording no goals, three assists and a plus-4 rating, but admitted on Friday that he was limited in what he could do on the ice.
The club decided Carlson should undergo a procedure to correct the problem on Feb. 25 and Carlson has missed the club’s past 10 games. He began skating with the Caps on Tuesday.
“Personally, I feel better when I get on the ice than I did the last time,” Carlson. “That’s obviously a huge positive. There were some trying times when it seems like you’re never going to skate again and then as soon as you get on the ice you get that excitement back and you get the energy that goes along with it.”
Carlson said he’s confident that when he returns to the lineup it will be without limitation.
“I don’t think I’ll have to play different than I did at the beginning of the year (before the original injury),” Carlson said. “That’s a big thing because I had to kind of change what I was doing out there because I was limited in certain areas and I don’t think there will be any of that this time around. I’m ready to get back out there as soon as it makes sense.”
Carlson skated with veteran defenseman Mike Weber on Friday, which suggests that Taylor Chorney and Nate Schmidt will make up the Capitals’ third defense pairing tonight. Carlson said he’ll know when it’s right for him to return to the lineup and is not circling a date on the Caps’ schedule.
“There’s no jump rope test or anything like that,” he said. “You know if you can skate and what your limitations are and what your strengths are. That’s what I’m most excited about, being myself on the ice again and being able to contribute to the team.”
In other news, Jay Beagle remained at top-line right wing, with Nicklas Backstrom at center and Alex Ovechkin at left wing.
Here are the Caps’ projected line combinations and defense pairs for tonight:
Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – Jay Beagle
Andre Burakovsky - Evgeny Kuzentsov – T.J. Oshie
Jason Chimera – Marcus Johansson – Justin Williams
Daniel Winnik – Mike Richards Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner – Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik – Dmitry Orlov
Taylor Chorney – Nate Schmidt
Braden Holtby (starter) – Philipp Grubauer
MORE CAPITALS: Craig Laughlin and Alan May tell stories on STL