Capitals' plans unclear if Nicklas Backstrom, Jason Chimera can't play

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The Washington Capitals have “discussed” contingency plans for Tuesday night’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes if either center Nicklas Backstrom (illness) or left wing Jason Chimera (lower-body injury) or both cannot play.

But general manager George McPhee wasn’t saying much else, including who could get called up from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League.

“We’ll see. It’s already been discussed,” McPhee said. “And what we might do if we need to recall and we’ll talk about it later on tonight and early [Tuesday] morning.”

Backstrom was told to stay home Monday, and McPhee called him a “little under the weather.” It was not certain whether the 25-year-old center would be able to skate Tuesday morning or play against Carolina.

Chimera left Monday’s practice about midway through. His status is also questionable.

“Nothing major,” McPhee said. “Should be fine. Just being careful.”

Forward Marcus Johansson is “progressing,” McPhee said. But coach Adam Oates said he’s not yet ready to play because of an upper-body injury.

Defenseman Mike Green said he’s 100 percent, so there’s a reasonable expectation that he plays Tuesday. That would free up the Caps to play seven defensemen, including Tom Poti, if either Backstrom or Chimera is out.

If the Caps have to deal without both of those forwards, they could look to Hershey for a replacement. Center Ryan Potulny, a veteran of 126 career NHL games, seems like the logical first choice. Casey Wellman, acquired from the Florida Panthers earlier this season, has 41 games of NHL experience. Ryan Stoa has 37 games worth.

“I don’t know all the statuses down there, quite honestly,” Oates said. “I know a couple of guys are on American League deals and aren’t even on NHL deals, so I don’t know protocol on that.”

Asked who’s been playing well for Hershey, McPhee said: “I’d rather not say because if they don’t get the recall after we talk about how well they’re playing we’ll have some disappointed people there. So I’d rather not talk about that.”

In the long term, the Caps are “concerned” about Brooks Laich’s lingering groin injury, McPhee said.

“Certainly like to have him in there,” the general manager said. “But keep the fingers crossed and hope we see him.”

McPhee added that Laich is trying a different kind of treatment. The 29-year-old forward hasn’t skated since Feb. 16.

“We just want to see how things respond to this, and this particular treatment takes about two weeks,” McPhee said.

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