ARLINGTON, V.A. — For the Washington Capitals fo far this season, it appears that as one door opens, another one closes in regards to injuries. As Nic Dowd returned from the injured reserve against the Florida Panthers, Anthony Mantha suffered an upper-body injury in the overtime loss. Washington, in turn, placed Mantha on the IR on Friday and recalled Aliaksei Protas again from the AHL Hershey Bears.
Mantha has been a solid part of the Capitals’ lineup to open the season, registering six points in 10 games to open 2021-22. He spent time on the second line with Connor McMichael, as well as Lars Eller, on the second line while also skating with Daniel Sprong.
This takes away another vital top-6 forward from the lineup. Nicklas Backstrom remains on the LTIR and continues to skate on his own in full gear. However, he has yet to join the team in practice to start the season, and will likely need more time to get back into the rhythm of contact and intense skates Meanwhile, T.J. Oshie is in a walking boot and is week-to-week with a lower-body injury he sustained against the Detroit Red Wings.
In the meantime, the Capitals will continue to rely on their youth to help fill the void. That’s why Connor McMichael and Hendrix Lapierre started the season with the team, and now, they’re joined by Protas and Brett Leason.
Through three games so far, Leason has his first NHL goal and also potted an assist. Protas skated just 3:53 minutes in his debut against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but that was due to Washington needing the power-play unit and top-6 out there for a lot of the game. Still, the 6-6 forward did what he could to make himself noticeable, using his size to his advantage and making a couple of strong plays.
In the meantime, the Capitals can utilize Lapierre at the wing, and also potentially see Protas get some reps in on that side. It’s unclear what the plan is at the moment, but in the end, it’ll be key for them to continue to make do. Washington is 5-1-4 to open the season, grabbing points in nine of 10 games so far.