ARLINGTON, Va. – An 82-game season takes its toll on hockey players, and the Capitals have seen that with the rash of injuries they’ve had to deal with lately. They got Nicklas Backstrom back in the lineup Friday night but are still without several players who have various timetables for returning.
Jason Arnott’s undisclosed injury and Tom Poti’s lower-body injury still have them listed as week-to-week, while the prognoses for Mike Green, Semyon Varlamov and Eric Fehr at least on the surface seem much better.
Arnott, who has missed the past three games, doesn’t appear close to playing again. He was last in the lineup March 13 against the Blackhawks.
“I think seven to 10 days,” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said Saturday. “It might be longer, I don’t know, but that’s my guess right now.”
While the Caps miss Arnott already, despite only having him for two weeks, Backstrom’s ability to play has helped a bit down the middle. Backstrom said he felt OK, though Boudreau said the center needs to sharpen up his conditioning from being out of game shape for a bit.
Poti also seems far away from returning, though there might not even be a place for him when he gets healthy if Green, Dennis Wideman, Scott Hannan, Jeff Schultz, Karl Alzner and John Carlson are all available. And that doesn’t even count John Erskine who, by the way, skated Saturday after missing three games with the flu. Poti skated Saturday, too.
“He’s coming along. I mean he’s out here,” Boudreau said. “I don’t know when his debut is gonna be, but we’ll see. It’s one of those things where it’s a process. It’s not quick, but it’s going.”
Green’s return could come as soon as Tuesday at Philadelphia, though the All-Star defenseman was given a “maintenance day” Saturday along with Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin. Boudreau said Green would skate with the Caps Monday at Kettler.
“It’s a day-to-day thing with him,” the coach said. “When he can play, he’ll play.”
Same goes for Fehr, who suffered what’s believed to be an upper-body injury last week. The winger was just happy to be back on the ice with his teammates but isn’t committing to playing against the Flyers as the Caps have a chance to clinch a playoff spot.
“I’m not sure exactly what’s gonna go on. I’m feeling better than I was a couple days ago,” Fehr said. “Right now I’m just taking it a day at a time.”
One guy who seems ready to go – even if he isn’t 100 percent – is Varlamov. The Caps sent Braden Holtby down to Hershey on Saturday, meaning Varlamov will at least be in uniform Tuesday, barring something unforeseen happening before then.
Boudreau repeated Saturday what he said Friday night in Newark N.J. – that Varlamov will get into a game this week. And it’ll be with the Caps because of roster limitations.
“He’s not on their playoff roster, so we can’t send him down if we wanted to,” Boudreau said. “If it was a situation where this was mid-February or January, it might’ve been an option, but there’s no option.”