Karl Alzner sat out of the Washington Capitals’ practice for the second consecutive day, but coach Barry Trotz and several teammates said that they expect the defenseman to be ready for Game 1 of the team’s second-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday.
The Capitals defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 6 of the teams’ first-round series on Sunday and did not skate on Monday. Alzner then did not practice on Tuesday, which the team referred to as a maintenance day, and then missed Wednesday’s session before Trotz acknowledged Alzner is experiencing some type of injury.
“I’m not worried about his conditioning or anything,” Trotz said. “I’d like him to get as close to 100 percent as he can. There’s no reason — the type of injury, right now, he’d just irritate it more than anything, so we’d rather him just stay off. He’ll be fine. He’s in all the meetings. He’ll be fine.”
Alzner, who logged 22:43 of ice time over the six-game series, finished the regular season having played in 458 consecutive games — the fifth-longest streak among active players.
He said prior to the start of the playoffs that this season has his been his most trying in terms of dealing with injuries, but that he felt healthier at that point than he had at any other in the season.
“You don’t play that many games in a row without taking care of your body and without knowing what you need and you don’t need and things like that,” said defenseman Mike Weber.
The Capitals had Weber skate in Alzner’s place alongside Matt Niskanen during practice on Wednesday, with Brooks Orpik and John Carlson reclaiming their spot as the top defensive pair.
Orpik only returned to practice on Tuesday after missing the final three games of the first-round series because of what is believed to be a concussion.
Trotz said that he remains uncertain of Orpik’s availability for Thursday’s opener because he hasn’t talked with athletic trainer Greg Smith or the team’s medical staff.
“Obviously, he’s skating with us, so we’d probably still consider him day to day unless I get an update,” Trotz said. “He’s progressing, or otherwise, he wouldn’t be out there. He’s getting close.”