Just 48 hours after their craziest morning skate of the year in Manitoba, the Washington Capitals saw some of that chaos carry over into Tuesday's AM skate prior to their meeting with the Chicago Blackhawks.
As the Capitals continue to navigate injuries across the lineup, they got some unwelcome news just before things kicked off on Tuesday, as Lars Eller left shortly before it began following a warm-up. It's unclear what happened, but Eller did not return to the skate. Aliaksei Protas took his place at third line center between Marcus Johansson and Anthony Mantha, while Joe Snively filled in for Protas on the fourth line left wing alongside Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway.
The Dane is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
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On the bright side, two key players were on the ice, as Erik Gustafsson took part in the full skate and line rushes while Darcy Kuemper got on the ice after the main skate was over to get some work in with goaltending coach Scott Murray.
Gustafsson will be a game-time decision, as Laviolette said the team is working through things in the room.
Meanwhile, Kuemper will miss his fifth straight game as he continues to deal with an upper-body injury he suffered back on Dec. 3 against the Calgary Flames when he took an elbow to the head from Tyler Toffoli. He is on the injured reserve but is eligible to come off any time since it has been a week. He has skated for the past three days now.
With Kuemper still out, Charlie Lindgren will make his fifth straight start. Hunter Shepard will back up.
Defensemen Martin Fehervary will also miss his fourth straight game with an upper-body injury, while Alex Alexeyev will sit out for the second consecutive game with a different upper-body ailment. Fehervary appeared to hurt his arm against Calgary after taking a hard hit from Milan Lucic along the boards. Alexeyev left Friday's 4-1 win over the Seattle Kraken after taking an elbow to the head from Jamie Oleksiak. Both remain on the IR.
Puck drop between the Capitals and Blackhawks is at 9 p.m. ET at United Center. The game is live on ESPN.