ARLINGTON — The Stanley Cup playoffs take a physical toll and the Capitals had their share of players fighting injuries as they tried to advance in the first round past the Carolina Hurricanes.
Jakub Vrana was held pointless in the series, but admitted he was dealing with an injury. He just wouldn’t say what it was – though he was seen repeatedly with an ice pack around his left shoulder during the playoffs.
“I could play,” was all Vrana would allow.
No one wanted to use injuries as an excuse. Carolina played parts of the series, which it won in double overtime of Game 7, without three key forwards.
Defenseman Michal Kempny didn’t even get a chance to participate. He tore his left hamstring in a March 20 regular season game against Tampa Bay. A key member of last year’s championship team had to watch his teammates fight on without him.
“Honestly, it was really tough for me. It took me a while and I got over it,” Kempny said. “But you can't do anything, right? It is part of hockey and things like that happens. So I had to deal with it.”
Kempny remains on crutches for now. He has to take his rehabilitation slow . Even putting weight on the leg and walking again will take some time. He should be ready for training camp, however.
T.J. Oshie, meanwhile, appeared in three playoff games before a push from Carolina forward Warren Foegele slammed him into the boards at full speed. He sustained a broken clavicle. Oshie wasn’t happy about the hit, but is ready to heal. He was even hoping to return to the ice if the Capitals made it deep into the playoffs much to the chagrin of the team's medical staff. That just didn’t happen. There is no timeline for his recovery, but Oshie doesn't expect the injury to hamper his summer workouts.
“[The doctors] know how excited I get to try to beat recovery times so they didn’t give me one, but I was pretty lucky,” Oshie said. “It’s not like a separated shoulder or something that really takes a lot of rehabbing. It’s just the bone and plate have to heal and I’ll be good to go and have a nice full summer of workouts.”
Other players battling injuries were center Lars Eller and Nicklas Backstrom. Eller’s upper-body injury happened just before the playoffs. Backstrom also had an upper-body injury he would not disclose. Neither player was sure if they would play for their home countries - Denmark or Sweden - in the IIHF World Championships starting May 10.
“I've been battling something. Something that's been bugging me,” Eller said. “A little bit of rest these next couple of weeks. Just have to take care of it. It doesn't require surgery, it's nothing serious, just with some rest over time, it will be fine, I believe.”
MORE CAPITALS NEWS:
- Playoff Roundup: Bruins and Blues take Game 1
- Oshie Breakdown: T.J. Oshie states his thoughts on the hit that ended his season
- Goodbye for Now: Caps say goodbye to Stanley Cup...for now
- Long Offseason: How Caps are dealing with the fallout of early exit