Jeff Schultz spent 12 straight games as a healthy scratch midway through this season, and for a long time it looked like he might never get back into the Washington Capitals’ lineup. Not long after, he became Dale Hunter’s shining example for “proving me wrong.”
Schultz snapped out of that by getting into 27 of 28 games, a streak that ended with the Caps’ last game at the Boston Bruins on March 29. He has not played since March 27.
But it’s possible the 26-year-old returns to the Caps’ lineup for Game 1 Thursday in Boston. He was skating pairs with Dennis Wideman on Monday and could be replacing Dmitry Orlov.
“If you can’t get up for the playoffs … it’s the most exciting time of the year. It’s up to me being ready for if my name is called,” Schultz said. “Just playing a good game and not worrying about not having played the last couple of games. Now it’s kind of a new season, a new beginning and let’s go from there.”
Schultz has these few practice days to “work out the cobwebs,” a benefit to the Caps’ Thursday start. If Monday’s pairings remain, it’ll be Schultz with Wideman, Karl Alzner with John Carlson and Roman Hamrlik with Mike Green.
Hunter has used so many defensive pairings throughout the past four months that the defensemen are more than comfortable with the shuffling.
“All combinations have worked this year, and the coaches put together what they feel is the best pairings,” Schultz said. “It’s just going out there and communicating with that guy. That’s what makes it the easiest.”