Evgeny Kuznetsov took the ice on Tuesday for the first time since sitting out back-to-back weekend games against the New Jersey Devils with an upper-body injury. The Capitals had a day off on Monday.
Washington practiced at Warrior Ice Arena, the Bruins’ practice facility, ahead of their match against Boston on Wednesday night.
Via the Washington Post’s Samantha Pell, Kuznetsov returned to the top center spot and skated between Alex Ovechkin and Conor Sheary.
Capitals lines at Tuesday practice:
— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) March 2, 2021
Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette spoke to the media before practice and said that Kuznetsov’s status for Wednesday’s night game remained unclear.
“Maybe tomorrow at game time or in the morning when I speak I’ll have a more of a definitive answer,” Laviolette said. “Right now I don’t because we had a day off yesterday. I think as we get in there today we’ll see where he’s at and probably have an update tomorrow morning.”
According to Laviolette, Kuznetsov’s injury “was something that popped up” in the hours before the Capitals’ 1 PM game against the Devils on Saturday. The Russian forward practiced fully the previous day.
“For me, it happened real quick,” Laviolette said, declining to specify Kuznetsov’s injury.
Hockey players are known to work out and strength-train on game days.
Kuznetsov is several weeks removed from a nineteen-day and eight-game stint on the NHL’s COVID-19 Unavailability List after contracting coronavirus. Kuznetsov said he struggled mightily with COVID symptoms.
“I just want to say, there was a moment when I woke up, and almost cried happy tears when I realized I can walk and breathe,” Kuznetsov said in February. “There were some moments. Difficult. Everything happens for the first time, you never know what to expect next. The way this disease goes – one day you are fine, the next day it’s bad. Only those who got sick with symptoms will understand what I am talking about. I wouldn’t wish this on anybody.”
Kuznetsov’s surprise scratches come just as an Athletic story by Michael Russo reveals that the Minnesota Wild stretched the meaning of an upper-body injury with goaltender Alex Stalock, whom they lost on waivers over the weekend to the Edmonton Oilers.
Stalock, 33, was diagnosed with myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, after testing positive for COVID-19 in November. The team stashed Stalock on injured reserve and classified the heart issue as “upper body.”
“Those first couple weeks were scary,” Stalock said. “You go on the internet and read stuff and you’re like, ‘Holy shit.’
“I was completely asymptomatic, but they think because I had no symptoms and had it in my system that because it was right at the time where we were ramping things up with skating and working out and ramping up for the season that my heart was working and working and working and started to get stressed and swell because of the virus in my system.”
He added, “It was mentally draining and very frustrating. Every doctor you talk to, they’re like, ‘This is so new, we don’t know what can happen.’ And you’re like, ‘Well, that doesn’t help.'”
Headline photo: Cara Bahniuk/RMNB
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