As the Washington Capitals took the ice in Manitoba, the team got a number of injury updates, along with good and not-so-good news on the injury front. And then, there was an early departure to keep an eye on.
First, Darcy Kuemper took the ice for the morning skate, marking his first time skating with the club since suffering an upper-body injury on Dec. 3 against the Calgary Flames. Kuemper took an elbow to the head from Tyler Toffoli and pulled himself out of the game, saying he didn’t feel right. Kuemper has started 20 games this season and has a .916 save percentage.
Charlie Lindgren has started the last three games with Kuemper on the shelf, while Hunter Shepard has been the backup.
While Kuemper was back, Washington saw a strange occurrence, as Erik Gustafsson left the ice early, per the Washington Post’s Samantha Pell. It is unclear why or if he is dealing with an injury, but it’s not a good sign, as the injuries are already piling up on the blue line.
Dmitry Orlov has missed the last 16 games with a lower-body injury, but he is skating in Winnipeg. He has been on the ice for practice but has not played in a game since Nov. 5. Meanwhile, Martin Fehervary has missed the last three games with an upper-body injury he suffered against Calgary following a big hit along the boards from Milan Lucic. He did not take part in the morning skate. Alex Alexeyev also did not skate in Manitoba and is out with an upper-body injury following an elbow to the head from Jamie Oleksiak in Friday’s win over the Seattle Kraken.
With the blue line injuries piling up, Washington recalled defensemen Dylan McIlrath and Lucas Johansen from the Hershey Bears on Sunday. Both are eligible to play.
And on the forward lines, the Capitals saw some great news and progress, as Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson are on this two-game road swing. Both are in non-contact jerseys, but them travelling for the first time this season marks a major step in the right direction.