The Washington Capitals got some good and not-so-good news before taking off for Nashville, as netminder Vitek Vanecek will travel with the team on their road trip while T.J. Oshie will remain home.
Head coach Peter Laviolette shared an update on both players, who are currently on the shelf with upper-body injuries.
Vanecek last played on Feb. 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. After colliding with Kasperi Kapanen and surrendering a power-play goal early in the first, Vanecek left the game and would not return. He has been out since and is listed on the injured reserve. The Czech netminder also hasn’t skated with the team but did get some individual work in on Saturday.
Laviolette said that Vanecek is definitely making progress and that he hopes to see him get back in the rhythm soon.
“The fact that he’s traveling with us and he’s coming, that tells me that he’s getting close to possibly joining us and getting back into action. So if he were really off in the distance, I don’t think he would be on the trip for two games,” Laviolette said. But we need to get him back and get him up to speed. Whenever that happens and he’s ready, that’s when it’ll be.”
READ MORE ON WHN: Capitals Make Changes To Top-6, Prepare For Road Trip
He also said that the timetable may be a bit longer for No. 41, as netminders have a bit of a different recovery process than skaters.
“I think you know with those situations I think there’s a standard for everybody. And that’s the standard for making sure that they’re healthy, that there aren’t any issues so that’s first and foremost. And then when he does, he’ll come back onto the ice. It might be, to answer your question and once he’s back on the ice it might take a little bit more just with the timing. It’s such an important position and not having seen pucks for quite a while, maybe somebody practices once and they’re in a game or practices twice and they’re in a game, maybe it’s a little bit longer so that a goaltender can feel the puck and get his rhythm back a little bit.”
Getting Vanecek back would be a major plus for Washington. The 26-year-old had started to find a rhythm before going down with an injury and has two shutouts and a .941 save percentage over his last six starts.
Oshie, meanwhile, is still not skating with the main group. He has not skated with the team since suffering an upper-body injury just 2:46 minutes into a Jan. 15 meeting with the New York Islanders. The 34-year-old has been around the facility, though. Laviolette said earlier in February it was fair to call him week-to-week.
The Capitals will play on the road Tuesday and Thursdsay against Nashville and Philadelphia before a small break.