The Capitals just wrapped up their morning skate in Raleigh, where Tom Poti is set to return to the lineup Thursday night after sitting out the first half of this home-and-home series against Carolina with a back injury.
Poti, who returned to the NHL this season after missing the last two years with lingering groin problems and a fractured pelvis, sat out two games in February with a neck injury after being checked into the boards by Toronto’s Leo Komarov. Coach Adam Oates said he believes that injury translated into another as the 35-year-old ramped up his activity over the past several weeks.
“He hurt his neck and, quite honestly, I think his back stiffened up from time off,” Oates said. “Then you come back and you cram it in and you take that long off, the body’s going to have to adjust to contact and skating every day again.”
Poti’s return adds some experience to a defense that featured three rookies in Tuesday’s 4-0 loss to the Hurricanes. It appears Cameron Schilling, who made his NHL debut Tuesday, will be out as healthy scratch.
Up front, Aaron Volpatti and Joey Crabb figure to be back in the lineup after sitting out on Tuesday. Wojtek Wolski and Mathieu Perreault will take their turns as healthy scratches.
Brooks Laich and Mike Green, who are both recovering from nagging groin injuries, skated with the team for a third consecutive day and took part in extra work with the scratches.
John Erskine didn’t make the trip to Carolina and thus wasn’t on the ice with the team for a fifth consecutive day after suffering what is believed to be an injury to his left hand or wrist on March 9 at the Islanders.
Based on the morning skate here’s what the lineup will likely be tonight: