Center Nicklas Backstrom (who has yet to play this season due to a hip injury), right-wing T.J. Oshie (has missed six straight games and 16 of the last 17 with two different lower-body injuries), and left-wing Conor Sheary (has missed past six with a lower-body injury) all took contact in the Washington Capitals’ practice on Friday for the first time since sustaining their respective injuries, according to head coach Peter Laviolette.
However, the Capitals said that this was a non-contact practice and Laviolette was not sure if Sheary or Oshie are ready to return for Saturday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets (7 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington in market, ESPN+ out of market) but noted that the two are closer to playing than Backstrom.
Backstrom and Oshie taking past in the 2-on-2 scrimmage drills here. Look good. pic.twitter.com/TisNVSSv0z
— Sammi Silber (@sammi_silber) December 3, 2021
Sheary was placed on injured reserve, according to the NHL’s media site, meaning that he must miss at least seven days. However, he can return anytime since he has not played since the Capitals’ 4-0 win at the San Jose Sharks on November 20.
Caps Coach Peter Laviolette said Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie and Conor Sheary were all cleared for contact today. Backstrom’s first time all season he’s been cleared for contact.
— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) December 3, 2021
On Backstrom taking contact, Laviolette confirmed that Friday was indeed Backstrom’s first practice with some contact. He said,”It’s great to have him out there. Just watching him out there and seeing a smile on his face. When you’re at the beginning of rehab, that smile isn’t always there.”
While it was a non-contact practice, Sheary and Oshie skated on the Capitals’ top power-play unit and second-line with center Lars Eller, hinting that they could return on Saturday.
At Capitals practice today:
PP1: Schultz, Ovechkin, Oshie, Kuznetsov, Sheary
PP2: TvR, Sprong, Wilson, Orlov, Protas.
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) December 3, 2021
Center Nic Dowd missed practice due to an illness, which the Capitals would not confirm whether it is COVID-19 related.
Defenseman John Carlson, right-wing Garnet Hathaway, and left-wing Carl Hagelin all took maintenance days on Friday.
CAPS TODAY: Since Nic Dowd’s return from injury, the Hagelin-Dowd-Hathaway line has recorded a 53.54 shot attempt percentage together, despite starting 70.21% of their shift starts outside of the offensive zone. More info on the line and #Caps Clips at https://t.co/HecIC0ECg1 pic.twitter.com/xZbZP53nGN
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) December 3, 2021
With Carlson not participating, right-wing Brett Leason filled him for him and skated alongside Martin Fehervary.
Laviolette didn’t rule out the possibility that Carlson, Hagelin, Hathaway and Dowd all might not be available for Saturday’s game.
Dowd has an illness. No confirmation if it’s covid related or not yet. Carlson, Hagelin, Hathaway were all taking a maintenance day today.
Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy was placed in concussion protocol after taking a hard hit along the boards from left-wing Alex Ovechkin in the Capitals’ 4-3 shootout loss on Thursday.
* Toronto Maple Leafs assigned G Petr Mrazek to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies on LTIR conditioning loan
* Montreal Canadiens RW Brendan Gallagher will miss at least five games after testing positive for COVID-19
* Gallagher and Canadiens D Sami Niku (also tested positive) will quarantine for 10 days
* Canadiens RW Josh Anderson will miss 2-4 weeks with an upper-body injury
* Canadiens executive VP Jeff Gorton said the club will hire a new GM after Christmas and head coach Dominique Ducharme will stay in his role for the rest of the season
* Blackhawks C Tyler Johnson will be out three months after undergoing neck surgery
* Blue Jackets G Joonas Korpisalo (non COVID-19 related illness) was placed on IR, retroactive to December 1 (he could still play against the Capitals)
By Harrison Brown