Washington Capitals defensemen Karl Alzner had played in 599 straight regular-season and playoffs games when the Caps headed to Toronto for Game Three of the first round. But instead of being on the ice, Alzner stewed in the press box, frustrated to miss action for the first time since he was breaking into the league in 2010. The team termed the issue an upper-body injury.
On Monday morning before Game Three of the second round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Alzner took to the ice with his teammates, skating on the fourth-pair with Taylor Chorney.
“We’re gonna do warmup and he’ll be a game-time decision,” head coach Barry Trotz told reporters. “We’re waiting for him for when he feels like he can contribute, then we’ll put him in the lineup. He’s getting close.”
Should Alzner play, the Capitals could ice seven defenseman and 11 forwards, likely taking the lineup spot of forward Paul Carey. Trotz has used his fourth line sparingly and Carey, who replaced Brett Connolly as the right wing on the bottom trio, took just 10 shifts and played only 5:40 on Saturday night.
Alzner could also take the spot of another defenseman, perhaps Kevin Shattenkirk. The trade deadline acquisition has struggled recently. On a conference call on Sunday, Trotz called Shattenkirk’s play “not good enough for what we need in that third pairing right now.”
Trotz did not divulge what the lineup will look if Alzner dresses for Game Three.
“We’ll at least determine that right after warmup,” the coach said.
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