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Capitals fans can breathe a sigh of relief after Braden Holtby's scary eye injury

Capitals fans can breathe a sigh of relief after Braden Holtby's scary eye injury

Just one night after leaving a game with an apparent eye injury on a high-stick through the mask, Braden Holtby was back on the ice for practice on Sunday.

"It's progressing the right way, obviously,” Holtby said. “Like anything, a scratch to your eye takes a bit to heal."

Holtby participated fully in the practice and did not appear limited at all. Video coach Brett Leonhardt dressed as a third goalie, but was not needed and left about halfway in.

Holtby was forced to leave Saturday’s game when the stick of Columbus Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson got through the bars of Holtby’s mask and caught him in the eye. The Capitals eventually fell 2-1 in overtime.

"I didn't have the sight to keep going,” Holtby said. “I just wouldn't have been a benefit to the team. It was one of those things. Eyes heal quickly, so just 24 hours and I'll be back to normal."

Head coach Todd Reirden said Holtby would be re-evaluated after practice, but that the team did not plan on recalling anyone.

“It was a weird situation for us at the time we needed to make sure we handled properly and went through all the proper steps to make sure there was not further issues and was really happy to see him be able to go out and partake in practice,” Reirden said.

Reirden also mentioned that Holtby had work done on his eye following the game. He would not commit as to whether Holtby would start Monday’s game, but as the Caps have a back-to-back on Monday and Tuesday, Reirden could choose to give Holtby the extra day off and start him on Tuesday.

Even if Washington needs to put Holtby on the shelf for a short period, the team is in good shape behind him. Backup Pheonix Copley came on in relief of Holtby Saturday and played well. He also played a stretch of games earlier in the season after Holtby was out with an upper-body injury. Copley has been one of the pleasant surprises of the season with a 10-2-3 record, 2.56 GAA and .916 save percentage. If the Caps need to turn to him, they will have the confidence to do so — for a short period.

For now, however, it appears all the Caps will need from Copley will be to play one of the two upcoming back-t-back games since Holtby certainly sounds like he’s ready to go.

"Obviously anything with your eyes is a little scary,” Holtby said. “It's fortunate that it wasn't anything too serious. You just move on."

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NHL to move to Phase 2 of return to play plan by June 8

NHL to move to Phase 2 of return to play plan by June 8

The NHL will transition to Phase 2 of its return to play plan, the reopening of team facilities for training activities, on June 8, the league announced Thursday.

Since the season was paused on March 12, the league has considered itself to be in Phase 1 of the plan, meaning self-isolation. While the NHL and NHLPA have made progress off the ice towards a return to play negotiating things such as the playoff format, throughout all those talks the league still remained in Phase 1. This is the first concrete step the NHL has taken towards an eventual return to the ice.

"Beginning June 8 – subject to each Club’s satisfaction of all of the requirements set out in the Phase 2 Protocol – Clubs will be permitted to reopen their training facilities in their home city to allow players to participate in individualized training activities (off-ice and on-ice)," a statement released by the NHL said. "Players will be participating on a voluntary basis and will be scheduled to small groups (i.e., a maximum of six Players at any one time, plus a limited number of Club staff). The various measures set out in the Phase 2 Protocol are intended to provide players with a safe and controlled environment in which to resume their conditioning."

As the statement notes, participation in Phase 2 activities are voluntary and will be limited to six players at a time. The Capitals have not yet set a date for the team's start of Phase 2.

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Phase 3 of the plan is training camp and, despite Thursday's announcement, we remain far off from that point. According to Pierre LeBrun, the earliest the league would start camps is July 10. Phase 4 is then the resumption of the season.

Presumably, Phase 3 will not start without a date set for when Phase 4. It is hard to believe the NHLPA would agree to an indefinite training camp. Phase 2, however, can begin without any formalized dates for Phases 3 and 4.  So while this is certainly a step towards the return of hockey and a sign that things are improving, all the difficult deciions regarding health and safety protocols as well as a timeline for the eventual 2020 postseason are still yet to be decided.

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Pittsburgh Penguins announce unnamed player tested positive for COVID-19

Pittsburgh Penguins announce unnamed player tested positive for COVID-19

An unnamed player on the Pittsburgh Penguins has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, the team announced on Thursday.

"This player is not in Pittsburgh and has been in isolation at home since first experiencing symptoms," the statement said. "He is recovered and feeling well. Those in close contact with the player leading up to the diagnosis have been notified." 

The organization stated that there would be no further updates on the player or situation at this time. 

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The Penguins are one of the 24 teams that will participate in the NHL's new playoff format once the season resumes. As of now, training camp for teams will not begin until July 10 at the earliest and there is still no clear timetable for when games will begin.

This announcement does bring up the question as to what the league will do if a positive diagnosis happens once play starts up again. Though NHL deputy commissioner Billy Daly has stated that he doesn't believe one positive test will halt the entire postseason, a plan will need to be put in place for how to handle a player contracting coronavirus.

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