A handful of Capitals players took the ice for an optional practice on Thursday morning, hours ahead of the team’s game against the New Jersey Devils. Injured defensemen Martin Fehervary and Nick Jensen were among the group that got some work in.
The pair of blueliners have been out of action since getting dinged up in the same game against the Anaheim Ducks on March 1. Both practiced on Wednesday with the team but Jensen has now shed the non-contact sweater he had been skating in.
Head coach Peter Laviolette called Fehervary still “day-to-day” and not a definite for the game against the Devils after practice on Wednesday. However, the 23-year-old Slovak did take full, regular rushes on the right side of the team’s second pairing. He has been paired with Alex Alexeyev and will be a game-time decision against New Jersey according to NBC Sports Washington’s Matt Weyrich.
Fehervary’s inclusion forced prospect defender Vincent Iorio onto the team’s extra pairing. Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan suggested on Monday that the plan always was for Iorio just to get into “a couple games”.
Laviolette was less bullish on Jensen on Wednesday and according to Weyrich still not optimistic about the veteran’s chances to play on Thursday. He’ll “most likely” join John Carlson, who practiced again in a non-contact jersey, on the sideline for another game.
Trade deadline acquisition Craig Smith was back on the ice as well. Smith missed Wednesday’s practice after going home to grab more of his belongings.
The Devils will come into Thursday night’s action very solidly in the Eastern Conference playoff picture with their 88 standings points. They did lose their last game against the Toronto Maple Leafs when former Caps goalies Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek squared off for the first time.
NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti reports that it appears Akira Schmid will start against the Capitals in New Jersey’s net. Vanecek has struggled lately and it looks like that will cost him the start in his return to DC.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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