After a recent deluge of injuries, the Washington Capitals appear slowly to be returning to full strength. Friday’s practice saw full participation from a slew of names that have been out of the lineup in recent weeks.
Two of those regulars, Anthony Mantha and Trevor van Riemsdyk, will be back in action against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday. Head coach Spencer Carbery announced the news after Friday’s skate.
“Both will be good to go,” Carbery said. Mantha has not played since November 8’s game against the Florida Panthers while TvR has been out since November 4’s matchup with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Mantha revealed after practice on Wednesday that the deflected shot he took to the left ear ruptured his ear drum and required 4-5 stitches to patch up. The injury also impacted his equilibrium, giving him balance issues and dizziness despite not suffering a concussion.
The big winger lost hearing in the impacted ear for almost a full week. His hearing only just started to come back a few days ago.
“We took our time,” Mantha said. “[Jason Serbus] jumped on the ice pretty quick and then got stitched up, and went to the hospital, did the scans and everything that night to make sure there was no bleeding or fracture or anything. From there, it was just kinda rest a little bit.”
The 29-year-old had scored two goals before being forced off of the ice against Florida. The Capitals placed him on injured reserve days after the injury, making him first eligible to return against Columbus.
“The body feels good,” Mantha said Wednesday. “It’s not long enough for it to feel out of shape or anything like that, so I felt good out there. Obviously, it gives us a couple extra days before the next game, so we can keep working hard and be ready for next game, maybe.”
Additionally, goaltender Darcy Kuemper took the ice seemingly no worse for wear after having to leave Wednesday’s skate in major, obvious pain. Kuemper took a shot to an unpadded area of his body during that practice and needed help to get back into the Capitals’ locker room.
Carbery had a positive update on Kuemper but left things up in the air about his status for Saturday’s game. Mitch Gibson was sent from the Hershey Bears to the South Carolina Stingrays on Thursday, indicating that the Bears are not expected to see Hunter Shepard recalled by the Capitals again.
“We’ll have to check on how [Kuemper] responded to the practice,” Carbery said. “I’ll get a report on how he feels post practice but he participated fully.”
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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