Head coach Peter Laviolette announced that center Hendrix Lapierre will return to the Washington Capitals’ lineup on Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers (7 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington) after being a healthy scratch for the past two games.
Right-wing Anthony Mantha was placed on injured reserve on Friday after undergoing shoulder surgery, which will force him out of the lineup for an indefinite period of time and opened up a spot in the Capitals’ forward group.
Laviolette added that he does not have a “general timeline” for Mantha’s return and is unsure if he will move to long-term injured reserve, which would require him to be out a minimum of 10 games.
In an interview with the Washington Post’s Samantha Pell, Capitals GM Brian MacLellan said that the team is still being cautious with center Nicklas Backstrom’s hip injury, which has cost him the beginning of the season. The 33-year-old has been skating by himself for three weeks and is now eligible to be activated off of long-term injured reserve, though it appears unlikely that he will play against the Flyers. MacLellan called Backstrom’s progress “slow and steady.”
On right-wing T.J. Oshie’s foot injury, which has forced him out of the lineup for the past three games, MacLellan said he did not need to have surgery on it and that he is going through the natural healing process. MacLellan expects Oshie to be on the ice as early as next week.
MacLellan told The Post that he will “do what is best for [Lapierre] development-wise” with the 19-year-old’s nine-game NHL trial before the first year of his entry-level contract set to kick in once he has hit that mark. Lapierre has played in five games this season. “He’s done a great job up until this point,” MacLellan said. “I think everything he’s done has benefited his growth, off-ice stuff, being around the guys, off-ice workouts, practicing with the big club, and at some point here we are going to make a decision on what is best for him moving forward, to grow his game.”
Regarding the numerous injuries the Capitals are dealing with at forward, Laviolette said “It’s a good challenge for our group. Obviously we miss those guys; they’re great players. …Our guys will have to step up and it’s an opportunity for somebody to take on some minutes or jump on a power play and contribute. Nothing changes for us.”
By Harrison Brown