Just when it looked like the Capitals were getting healthy, more issues have cropped up for the team. Defenseman Dmitry Orlov did not practice Wednesday due to an upper-body injury. Head coach Peter Laviolette called him day-to-day. In addition, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie both missed practice as well with a non-COVID illness.
The team got Nick Jensen and Justin Schultz back from COVID protocol for Sunday's game against the New Jersey Devils. Martin Fehervary remains in the protocol, but was back at practice on Tuesday signaling he could be nearing his return as well. But with the team on the verge of getting back to full strength on defense, Orlov left Tuesday's practice in obvious discomfort and did not practice Wednesday.
Laviolette said Orlov was in the building with the team and that they would see how he felt on Thursday. When asked if Orlov would be able to play in the team's two-game road trip on Friday and Saturday, Laviolette said he was "hopeful."
Ilya Samsonov also left Tuesday's practice as well, but he was back on for Wednesday so there appears to be no issue there.
What remains an issue, however, is the absence of Backstrom and Oshie. Both were out sick for Sunday's game and they have not returned since.
The bad luck continues for Backstrom who has played in just three games this season. A lingering hip injury kept him out until Dec. 15 when he finally made his season debut. After playing only one game, he entered COVID protocol. He returned to play two games, but an illness forced him out Sunday.
"[Backstrom's] going to be able to contribute because he's a skilled player, but to gauge where he's at from his conditioning and where he wants to be with the stop-and-go part of it, it's been a little bit more difficult," Laviolette said.
He added, "He's been back for a month and he's played in three games so that's not ideal."
It has also been a tough season for Oshie who has played in only 16 of the team's 34 games. He has four goals this season, but has only scored in two games as three of those goals came in a hat trick performance against the Ottawa Senators.
"I wish T.J. and Nick were out here just because of the seasons that they've had and it would have been good for them," Laviolette said.
The absence of Backstrom and Oshie led to some interesting line shuffling at Wednesday's practice as Garnet Hathaway moved onto the top line.
Here's a look at the practice lines:
Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Garnet Hathaway
Conor Sheary - Lars Eller - Tom Wilson
Carl Hagelin - Nic Dowd - Brett Leason
Daniel Sprong - Connor McMichael/Mike Sgarbossa - Aliaksei Protas
Martin Fehervary - John Carlson
Trevor van Riemsdyk - Nick Jensen
Matt Irwin - Justin Schultz
Michal Kempny - Dennis Cholowski