The Washington Capitals have not been playing good hockey lately. The Caps have won only 8 of their 19 games in 2022 so far and have been outplayed over the last two weeks by some of the NHL’s worst teams: the Canadiens, Senators, Blue Jackets, and Flyers.
But reinforcements appear to be coming. After receiving three days off from Peter Laviolette over the weekend, the Capitals returned to practice on Monday and several core players skated again after being out due to injury.
TJ Oshie, Justin Schultz, and Vitek Vanecek participated in practice per the Washington Post’s Samantha Pell. Meanwhile, Anthony Mantha skated and wore a non-contact jersey.
Oshie, who is considered one of Washington’s heart-and-soul players, has missed the last 14 games due to an upper-body injury and has not suited up in a game since January 15 against the New York Islanders. Oshie has missed 34 of 52 games this season due to lower- and upper-body injuries, COVID, and a non-COVID illness. In the games he has suited up, the Osh Babe has been effective posting 13 points in 18 games this season.
Over the last several weeks, Oshie has been working off-ice and was spotted stickhandling on the Capitals bench stickhandling from the bench. Oshie skated with Mantha while the team was on its latest road trip. He is still currently on injured reserve.
Osh is alive and on the ice with the boys.. 😭🥰 #Caps @holtbymoly @molfully @vitekvanecek pic.twitter.com/4xJUwOvgaH
— julia (@casadoresdean) February 21, 2022
Schultz is back on the ice after suffering an upper-body injury (that appeared to be his waist area) on February 15 against the Nashville Predators. The right-handed defenseman has spent most of the season on the second defensive pairing with Dmitry Orlov.
Vitek Vanecek has been out since suffering an upper-body injury in a February 1 game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The goaltender was run into by Kasperi Kapanen in the crease, fell backward, and slammed his head into the back of the goal frame. Vanecek traveled with the Capitals on its latest road trip, but remains on injured reserve. Pheonix Copley took his place in the lineup.
love to see it https://t.co/PigCi2kN0n pic.twitter.com/2HQ1eL3FvM
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 18, 2022
Mantha, who is on long-term injured reserve, wore a light blue non-contact jersey during the skate. The top six winger has been out since undergoing shoulder surgery on November 5. The Capitals will have a difficult decision to make with the French Canadian when he’s ready to return. Mantha’s $5.7 million cap hit would make it difficult for the team to add high-salaried players at the trade deadline and the Caps could hold him out until rosters expand for the playoffs.
Mantha is on the ice ahead of today’s practice in a non-contact jersey. More progress. #Caps pic.twitter.com/wcgaCY8XOq
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) February 21, 2022
The Capitals have three more days before their next game, Thursday against the New York Rangers.
“I don’t know who may or may not be available,” Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette said after practice. “Mantha will not be available. I can tell you that. The rest of them I’m not sure yet.”
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