After suffering an apparent injury to his
left right leg in Thursday’s home opener, defenseman Jack Hillen will undergo surgery Friday, Coach Adam Oates said.
Oates doesn’t believe Hillen’s injury is career-threatening, but he did say he expects the 27-year-old blueliner to miss months. The exact nature of Hillen’s injury is unknown. The Capitals will describe his condition only as a lower body injury.
Pressed on the length of time Hillen is expected to miss, Oates said he wouldn’t go so far as to say it is a season-threatening injury.
“I wouldn’t say that right now, I think it’s too early to tell,” Oates said. “But it’s going to be an extended period of time.”
Lance Bouma’s check that ultimately injured Hillen wasn’t a dirty hit, but simply caught the defenseman mid-stride when he was vulnerable to having his leg twisted in an awkward fashion.
“It was ugly to see. You can’t fault the guy that hit him at all, it’s a hockey play. He did the right thing as far as the game’s concerned,” Braden Holtby said. “You just never want to see a guy hit in an awkward situation like that. It’s bad for Hills. Obviously he’s had a bit of rough luck [at] the start of years here the last couple.”
Where the Capitals go from here in terms of organizing their defensive depth is still a little up in the air. Oates said he hasn’t decided whether to play waiver-wire pickup Alexander Urbom or to put Steve Oleksy, who sat out the first two contests as a healthy scratch, on Saturday in Dallas.
Oates prefers players to skate on their strong side. He doesn’t like when defensemen skate on their weak side, because of how it can make certain routine plays more complicated or inefficient. Urbom is a left-handed shot, like Hillen. Oleksy is a right-handed shot and would have to play his off-side.
“I don’t like it. It puts guys in a difficult position. I’ve got to talk to Calle [Johansson] more today as we go to Dallas and talk to [Urbom] more,” Oates said. “I haven’t really had a chance too long to sit down with him about how he’s feeling.”
The Capitals held an optional practice Friday. Those who elected not to skate were: Troy Brouwer, Mike Green, John Carlson, Karl Alzner and John Erskine. It was an opportunity for the defensemen, who played heavy minutes Thursday night after Hillen left the game with the injury, to rest. Brouwer was “stiff” this morning Oates said.