ARLINGTON, V.A. — Going into a new week, the Washington Capitals are turning to each other and rallying to “come together” as the going gets tougher. Not only is the team in the throes of a four-game losing skid, but the team has also seen the already-long injury list increase. In turn, there are new faces and a renewed sense of urgency in the dressing room as the team readies for a tough upcoming slate.
Washington welcomes Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers on Monday and could be without two of its top-pairing defensemen in John Carlson and Dmitry Orlov. Carlson has been on the IR since suffering a lower-body injury against the Nashville Predators on Oct. 29, and though he is back skating, he is in a blue non-contact jersey and remains on the IR. Meanwhile, Orlov is day-to-day with a lower-body injury he suffered on Saturday in the 3-2 loss to the Arizona Coyotes.
“This is probably one of the most — I think one year in Pittsburgh, I think we had the most man-games lost of any team, but this has got to be getting up there,” Conor Sheary said of the injuries. “It’s unfortunate to see so many guys getting injured.”
Right now, the full injured list is as follows, with timetables: Nicklas Backstrom (hip resurfacing surgery, indefinite), Tom Wilson (ACL surgery, mid-December-January), T.J. Oshie (lower-body, indefinite), Connor Brown (ACL surgery, indefinite), Carl Hagelin (hip surgery, indefinite), Beck Malenstyn (hand surgery, 6-8 weeks), Carlson (lower-body, day-to-day) and Orlov (lower-body, day-to-day).
With injuries piling up, the team has also brought in some new faces to help fill the void. The Capitals recalled Sonny Milano and Lucas Johansen from Hershey to fill some voids, and also claimed Nicolas Aube-Kubel off waivers on Saturday. Garrett Pilon had also been up with the team prior to the waiver claim, but went back down to the Bears with Washington at the maximum of 23 forwards.
Aube-Kubel drew in on the fourth line with Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway at Sunday’s practice, while Milano remained on the top-6 after playing a solid game with Dylan Strome and Marcus Johansson on the second line on Saturday.
And, with Orlov and Carlson out, Lucas Johansen jumped in on a pairing with Matt Irwin. If Carlson and Orlov miss Monday’s game at Edmonton, it would mark the first time since 2014-15 that the Capital would play without both in the lineup.
READ MORE ON WHN: Washington Capitals Injury Updates On Dmitry Orlov & John Carlson
Milano said that he felt good in his debut on that second line and that Strome and Johansson helped a lot when it came to getting back up to the speed of NHL action.
“Those are two good players I was playing with, so they made it pretty easy,” Milano said.
As for Aube-Kubel, he told WHN that he felt some good chemistry in his first practice with the fourth line and is just happy to get another opportunity ot prove his worth after things didn’t go as planned with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I get a second chance, and I’m all out for it. I did that last year, and I had the best year of my career in Colorado. I’m just hoping to do the same thing here this year,” Aube-Kubel said, in an exclusive 1-on-1 interview, adding, “For me, I’m ready to fit in early and have an impact and play well. I haven’t played much in my time in Toronto, so just to have ice time and play well is my priority here.”
FULL INTERVIEW: Aube-Kubel Discusses Washington Capitals Waiver Claim, Why It Didn’t Work Out With Toronto Maple Leafs & More
Washington is currently looking to snap a four-game losing skid. In each of those games, the Capitals have held a lead at one point or another and subsequently gave it up. It most recently happened on Saturday and stung even more as Alex Ovechkin recorded his 787th record-breaking career goal a saw his team surrender three unanswered goals in the third period in a 3-2 loss to the Coyotes.
With Washington dropping four straight and struggling to find consistency and offense amid numerous injuries, there has been trade speculation floating around. The Montreal Canadiens reportedly rang the banged-up Capitals to inquire about a possible deal for a forward. However, the team isn’t ready to pull the trigger on anything at the moment, as they want to see what Connor McMichael, Milano and now, Aube-Kubel, can do before outsourcing for a solution. Still, if things keep going in this direction, something’s got to give at some point.
The Capitals face Edmonton at 8 p.m. ET on Monday on NBC Sports Washington.
More Weekend Updates:
- Alex Ovechkin finished the week with four goals and one assist and is on a five-game point streak. He has struck in four of his last five games overall and has 11 points in 13 games. He is also now 15 goals shy of passing Howe for the second-most goals in NHL history and 108 from breaking Wayne Gretzky’s all-time record.
- Evgeny Kuznetsov and Orlov got the “A’s” with Carlson and Oshie out. Who’s next in line is unclear at the moment. Trevor van Riemsdyk and Garnet Hathaway wore “A’s” in the preseason.
- Over the last week, Darcy Kuemper has a .919 save percentage and 2.30 GAA.
- Anthony Mantha picked up a goal and an assist on Saturday, marking his first goal in seven games.