Just as the Capitals blue line seemed to be getting healthy, two defensemen didn’t take part in Thursday’s practice in Arlington.
Jack Hillen missed the workout with an illness and John Erskine, who has missed 10 games with what is believed to be a left hand or wrist injury, skated for roughly 20 minutes but left the ice before practice officially began.
Erskine told reporters Monday that he hoped to be ready to return to the lineup this weekend when Washington plays three games in four days on the road.
The rugged defenseman has skated for three straight days prior to Thursday and Coach Adam Oates said the Capitals wanted to give him more time to rest. Oates said Erskine didn’t suffer a setback and he’s still optimistic that the defenseman will be ready to play this weekend.
“He was here yesterday when everybody had a day off. So he went at it pretty hard,” Oates said. “And just giving him a little rest today, see how he responds for tomorrow.”
Other quick notes from practice:
>> Tom Poti (back) and Tomas Kundratek (sprained right MCL) are both taking part in the session. Earlier this week Oates said he believed Kundratek was “very close” to a return but the 23-year-old said after taking part in a full-intensity practice for the first time Thursday he’s not quite ready.
“I do not feel 100 percent yet,” Kundratek said. “I didn’t battle yet in the corners, definitely my battles and sprints. That’s the problem areas still.”
There’s still no time table for Poti to return either. He hasn’t played since Buffalo’s Steve Ott cross checked him in the back on March 17.
“I’m not sure. It’s just day-to-day right now,” Poti said. “It felt a little better today, not great. But just reassess it in the morning.”
>> Right wing Eric Fehr isn’t on the ice for a third consecutive day after suffering what the team will only describe as an upper-body injury against the New York Rangers on March 24. Oates said Fehr is “still a ways away” from returning.
>> Here’s what the lines looked like: