ARLINGTON, Va. – A Capitals team that has been unaccustomed to dealing with injuries in recent years suddenly is dealing with a good number of them. Washington returned to practice Wednesday with several key players missing.
The status of players T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Devante Smith-Pelly and Michal Kempny are all up in the air for Friday’s game against the Devils, but head coach Todd Reirden provided updates following practice.
Oshie did not participate in Wednesday’s practice. He was present before the team took the ice, as he stood on the bench in a sweatshirt, shorts and shoes, no skates. He shot a few pucks from the bench toward the net, but left after only a few minutes.
Oshie was injured in Winnipeg on Nov. 14 when Josh Morrissey checked him into the boards and body-slammed him to the ice. It appeared as if Oshie’s head struck the ice which is troubling considering Oshie’s history of concussions.
Reirden had no real concrete update on Oshie, saying only that he had not yet returned to skating.
“Until he gets on the ice, I'm really not going to have any updates on him,” Reirden said.
Kuznetsov was one of the first players on the ice for practice as he came on to work out the goalies. He was in a non-contact light blue jersey. He did practice with the team but seemed to participate in a limited capacity.
This represents progress for Kuznetsov who first returned to the ice on Monday after taking an elbow to the face, also in the Winnipeg game, but did not skate with the team. As he continues to progress there is hope that he may be ready to return in time for Friday's home game against New Jersey.
“Yeah, we're hoping,” Reirden said. “He has not been cleared yet so today was the first step in him going through a little bit more than just a random skate around. Today was going through some more drills and that's the natural progression. It was nice to see him back out there.”
Smith-Pelly left Monday’s game early after taking a shot in what appeared to be the right ankle. He came onto the ice at about 10 a.m., 30 minutes before practice began, for an individual skate. He left after only a few minutes and did not participate in practice.
The team called Wednesday a maintenance day for Smith-Pelly due to a lower-body injury.
Kempny was a surprise absence from Wednesday’s practice. The team also said it was a maintenance day for him for an upper-body injury. He did not participate in practice, but he did skate with strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish.
Reirden was hopeful Smith-Pelly and Kempny’s injuries were only short-term and did not close the door on either player returning for Friday’s game.
“I'm hopeful [Thursday] that they'll be on the ice for practice and continue to move forward from there.”
MORE CAPITALS NEWS:
- Caps Mailbag: Is Tom Wilson better than ... gasp ... Filip Forsberg?
- NHL Power Ranks: A Turning point for the Caps
- Long Distance Trolling: Caps fan goes to Antarctica to troll Penguins
- Underrated No Longer: Backstrom proves he's elite