ARLINGTON, Va. -- Injuries were a major storyline at the end of the Capitals’ season in 2019. Heading into the new season, that storyline has not completely gone away.
Michal Kempny and T.J. Oshie were both injured at the end of the season. Whether they would have been the difference in the team’s first-round series loss is impossible to project, but the fact that it took double overtime in Game 7 for Washington to lose, it seems at least possible if not likely that having even one of those players in the lineup could have made the difference.
Kempny was lost before the postseason began when he suffered a torn left hamstring in a regular-season game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. When the Caps take the ice for the first on-ice session of training camp on Friday, Kempny will not be joining the team for the regular practice.
“He’s progressing well,” general manager Brian MacLellan said. “I think the training staff is going to be cautious with him. I think the most important thing with him is that he’s healthy going into the year.”
It has been nearly six months since Kempny originally suffered the injury. He plays on the left side of the team’s top defensive pair alongside John Carlson. His loss leaves a gaping hole in the lineup, but even though he is not ready to resume practicing, there is hope he could be ready for the start of the season.
“I believe, yeah,” Kempny said when asked if he would be ready for the Oct. 2 opener in St. Louis, “But I don't want to say I'm going to be ready and something happen. That's my goal, my focus to be ready for opening season.”
“The target is probably game one, but we’ll see,” MacLellan said. “We’re not going to rush it. He’ll start doing drills here next week, and then we’ll make a decision on when he can enter practice.”
With the start of the regular season up in the air, that calls into serious doubt whether he will get a chance to play in the preseason. Kempny said he was ultimately not concerned and that he was confident he could step into the lineup and play even if he did not get any preseason games.
“I can play game when I'm not 100-percent so when I feel that I'm ready to go, I'm going to play,” he said. “But if it's going to be like during the training camp, I don't know yet.”
The team is also expected to be without two prospects on Friday including the much-heralded Alex Alexeyev.
Alexeyev and Kody Clark suffered upper-body injuries at the Prospects Showcase and MacLellan preached caution.
“I doubt that [Alexeyev will]l be on the ice tomorrow,” MacLellan said. “It’ll be a few days. Same with Clark.”
The news is more positive for Oshie who said he has completely recovered from the broken clavicle he suffered in the playoffs.
“Shoulder is 100 percent,” he said. “Got some new hardware in there. I don’t think this one is going to be breaking any time soon.”
“The whole thing is metal now,” Oshie added. “I got a lot of metal in the body, but no, I needed a plate for the whole thing. She’s strong. A bunch of screws and yeah I’m good. I’m ready to go. I was able to do all the testing, the strength testing. Actually did better than I thought I would.”
When asked, Oshie said he had a metal plate put in his shoulder with 12 screws. Evidently he also has a metal plate and 10 screws in one of his ankles.
Asked if the team was dealing with any other injuries for camp, MacLellan could only think of one.
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