The Washington Capitals’ morning skate in Manitoba ahead of Sunday’s tilt with the Winnipeg Jets had a little bit of everything, as the team got good news, bad news and everything in between at one of the wildest practices of the year.
First, the Capitals got some positive signs. Darcy Kuemper skated for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury following an elbow to the head from Tyler Toffoli. However, he will not dress on Sunday and has been placed on the injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 3, when he sustained the injury against the Calgary Flames.
In addition to Kuemper, the team saw a huge step in the right direction with regard to some of the longer-term names on the shelf. Nicklas Backstrom (hip resurfacing surgery) and Tom Wilson (ACL surgery) were on the ice for practice in non-contact jerseys. It marks the first time both are travelling with the team this season. However, there’s still ways to go in their respective recoveries. However, head coach Peter Laviolette said that both of them will continue to travel with the team going forward, so there’s definitely progress.
Dmitry Orlov was also skating on Sunday, but from the way things played out, signs point to him missing his 17th straight game. He has been practicing in a regular jersey but has not played since Nov. 5 against the Arizona Coyotes.
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Martin Fehervary and Alex Alexeyev did not skate. Fehervary is on the IR as he deals with an upper-body injury he suffered against Calgary. He appred to hurt his arm following a hard hit along the boards from Milan Lucic. Alexeyev, who left Friday’s game after an elbow to the head from Jamie Oleksiak, was also absent. He is now on the IR as well.
Then, another apparent ailment struck during the skate. Erik Gustafsson left the practice early and did not return. It is unclear if he has an injury, and his status is up in the air for Sunday.
With the injuries piling up on the blue line, Washington recalled defensemen Dylan Mcilrath and Lucas Johansen from the AHL’s Hershey Bears.
Puck drop is at 7 p.m. ET at Canadian Tire Centre.