ARLINGTON, V.A. – It looks like the Washington Capitals are one step closer to seeing Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie and Conor Sheary back in action.
Head coach Peter Laviolette said after practice on Friday that all three are “cleared for contact” and can take some “bumps” here adn there. All three of them were in regular jerseys, upgrading from the non-contact blue sweaters they had been wearing the last few skates. However, they are still listed on the injured reserve.
Backstrom missed the start of training camp and was placed on the long-term injured reserve as he continued to rehabilitate a hip injury. He said it may be connected to the one he suffered in 2015, but did not require surgery. He had been skating on his own and progressing to the point of wearing full gear. Backstrom hit the ice with his teammates for the first time this season on Nov. 24.
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Meanwhile, Oshie was injured on Oct. 27 against the Detroit Red Wings and was in a walking boot, but he came off the IR on the team’s west coast swing and played against the San Jose Sharks. However, he then suffered a non-related injury and went back on the IR, missing the last six games.
Sheary has also missed the same amount of time as Oshie after going down with an upper-body injury during warm-ups against the Seattle Kraken. He is also on the IR.
Getting all three back will be a major plus for Washington. They are all capable of top-6 minutes and bring a lot of energy to the lineup. Backstrom is a top-tier center that plays with consistency and can help spark the power play. Meanwhile, Oshie has been solid through eight games with seven points and is a speedy, high-energy forward. Sheary, meanwhile, has also been “tenacious” on pucks, per Laviolette, and has helped with puck retrieval.
Laviolette said that all were skating “for a reason” and he will check in to see who could return.