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After 12-game absence, Carlson expected back for Caps tonight

John Carlson is expected to make his return to the Washington Capitals lineup tonight versus Philadelphia (on NBCSN).

The 26-year-old defenseman hasn’t played since Dec. 26 due to a lower-body injury. The Caps have managed a 9-2-1 record in the 12 games without him, but they’re still glad to have him back.

“He’s a big part of what we do,” coach Barry Trotz told reporters. “The guys that have stepped in have done a fantastic job.”

Carlson is officially a game-time decision tonight.

From CSN Washington:

If Carlson returns to the lineup, Ryan Stanton is likely to be a healthy scratch. Carlson skated with Nate Schmidt on the Caps’ top/second pairing, with Niskanen alongside Karl Alzner (who is expected to set the Caps record with his 423rd consecutive game), and Dmitry Orlov alongside Taylor Chorney.

Carlson has six goals and 21 assists in 34 games.

Caps defenseman Brooks Orpik remains sidelined with a lower-body injury. He’s been skating, but there’s no timeline for his return.