It appears the Washington Capitals’ top-6 on the blue line is back intact, and it couldn’t come at a better time for the team. Washington activated defenseman Nick Jensen off the injured reserve on Tuesday, and he appears set to return against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Meanwhile, the team re-assigned Brett Leason to the taxi squad to make space on the active roster for Jensen.
The 6-1, 205-pound defenseman had missed the last four games with an upper-body injury he suffered on Jan. 20 against the Boston Bruins. Washington had placed him on the IR and had Michael Kempny draw in to help fill the void. Matt Irwin then stepped in when Kempny entered the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol on Friday.
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Getting Jensen back in the mix is a major plus for the Capitals, who are looking to kick off February on a positive note after a lackluster January where they went 4-6-2. Jensen has been an integral part of the defense this season, living up to the expectations of a top-4 defenseman and working well with Dmitry Orlov on the second pairing.
Through 39 games this season, the 31-year-old blueliner has picked up three goals and 11 points and leads the team with a +/- rating of plus-20. He is on pace to set a new career-high in points with 21, and he is averaging 19:20 minutes a game, which is the highest average since his 2018-19 run with Detroit. Jensen’s 52 blocks also rank third on the team.
Meanwhile, Leason will head back to the taxi squad. He has been skating as an extra for the last few practices and last played on Jan. 26 against San Jose, skating 7:40 minutes. He has three goals and six points through 32 games up with the Capitals this season. Leason joins Lucas Johansen and Hunter Shepard as those currently on the taxi squad.
Puck drop between Washington and Pittsburgh is at 7 p.m. at PPG Paints Arena. Vitek Vanecek will start for the Capitals, and Tristan Jarry will get the call for the Penguins.
More notes and thoughts on the game can be found here.