Marcus Johansson is back in the Washington Capitals’ lineup Sunday against the New York Rangers after missing 12 games with a concussion. Defenseman John Erskine is out with an apparently left hand or wrist injury.
Johansson last played Feb. 7 at the Pittsburgh Penguins, though he wouldn’t reveal when the concussion symptoms began. He passed a neuropsychological test Tuesday to be cleared for contact.
His ability to return hinged on conditioning. Adam Oates said Johansson is ready.
“I hope so. It’s tough,” the Caps’ coach said. “No one has the magic answer with that injury, nobody. Obviously [Sidney] Crosby’s gone through well-documented, when it happens.”
Oates has been hesitant about the 22-year-old being in good enough shape to play. What changed to allow him to return Sunday?
“I think confidence for him in terms of when you have that injury when you come back, I don’t think it’s his conditioning in terms of skating more bumping and feeling in position where he feels to come in the lineup and play,” Oates said.
Johansson is centering the third line between Jason Chimera and Joel Ward. Tough guy Aaron Volpatti is in the lineup after two games as a healthy scratch.
Left wing Wojtek Wolski and center Mathieu Perreault are the healthy scratch forwards.
Erskine is out Sunday after playing just one shift Saturday at the New York Islanders. The team is calling his an upper-body injury. Tom Poti is back in to replace Erskine.
Goaltender Braden Holtby makes his 12th start in 13 games. Backup Martin Biron starts for the Rangers.
Here’s a look at the lines:
Matt Hendricks - Mike Ribeiro - Alex Ovechkin
Eric Fehr - Nicklas Backstrom - Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera - Marcus Johansson - Joel Ward
Aaron Volpatti - Jay Beagle - Joey Crabb
Karl Alzner - Tomas Kundratek
Tom Poti - John Carlson
Jeff Schultz - Steve Oleksy