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Capitals Notebook: Lines Tweak, Mantha Moves Up, Carlson & Injury News

The Capitals got back to work with a Wednesday practice and saw the lines tweak, plus more on John Carlson and other injured names.



ARLINGTON, V.A. — The Washington Capitals got back to work on Wednesday with their first practice at home following a three-game road trip out west, and it was a busy skate with a lot of updates and positive takeaways.

The biggest was John Carlson taking the ice with the team for the first time since taking a slapshot to the face on Dec. 23. He was in a non-contact jersey and did not take part in the high-intensity scrimmages toward the end of the skate, but it was a step in the right direction. His return isn't imminent, but the team is hoping to get serious about the possibility of him coming back in the coming weeks, as he has an important doctor's appointment coming up to check his progress.

"This is an off-in-the-distance thing," head coach Peter Laviolette said. "But there's a process that goes with where he's at and what he's gone through, and this is the beginning of the process as far as him joining our team. Still off in the distance, but nice to have him out there."

In addition to Carlson, Nick Jensen, who is dealing with an upper-body injury, is still skating in a non-contact jersey and isn't likely to return on Thursday. Martin Fehervary (lower-body) upgraded to a contact jersey and was a full go, and his injury is at a "day-to-day" status, per Laviolette.

Craig Smith was missing from practice as he returned to Boston to go pick up more of his things following the trade. Washington has been on the road for the majority of Smith's tenure so far. He will be available for Thursday's game against the New Jersey Devils.

With Fehervary a full go and Smtih out, the lines and pairings tweaked. Anthony Mantha moved to the top line while Tom Wilson skated on the second line with Sonny Milano and Nicklas Backstrom, who were reunited. Aliaksei Protas drew in on the fourth line with Nic Dowd and Nicolas Aube-Kubel. On defense, Rasmus Sandin and Trevor van Riemsdyk stuck together on the top pairing. Fehervary was skating on the second pairing with Alex Alexeyev, while Matt Irwin and Gabriel Carlsson were put together on the third pairing. Vincent Iorio was an extra.

Here were the combinations at practice:

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