Caps place Oshie, Backstrom on IR, activate Fehervary, Cholowski

Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie

The Capitals announced Friday that forwards T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom would be hitting Injured Reserve ahead of their two-game road trip against the St. Louis Blue and Minnesota Wild.

Defensemen Martin Fehervary and Dennis Cholowski were activated from the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol and Michal Kempny was reassigned to the taxi squad in corresponding moves.

Washington’s top six has been hit hard by injuries and coronavirus-induced absences this season. Oshie, who like Backstrom has been dealing with a non-COVID illness, has appeared in just two games since Dec. 17. Backstrom has only played three games all season thanks to offseason hip surgery and a stint in COVID-19 protocol. Both players returned to practice this week but didn’t work back up to full strength in time to travel with the team.

Instead, the Capitals’ top six will likely feature a healthy dose of Garnet Hathaway, who took reps on the first two lines at practice this week.

Washington has not announced any moves involving goalie Vitek Vanecek, who has been dealing with an illness as well. According to The Washington Post’s Samantha Pell, Vanecek didn’t take the ice for practice Friday morning. Ilya Samsonov and Zach Fucale would be the Capitals’ top two netminders should Vanecek be unable to play.

The Capitals take on the Blues at 8 p.m. Friday night before making a 24-hour turnaround for their date with the Wild on Saturday.