Defenseman Mike Green will sit out Wednesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, marking the third straight game he’s missed since suffering a lower-body contusion on Nov. 12 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Green was on the ice for more than an hour this morning taking part in the regular morning skate as well as the scratches skate, and the blueliner appears to be moving well around the ice. But Coach Adam Oates didn’t want to put him at a disadvantage against a top opponent and said his concern is primarily based on Green’s conditioning after taking part in only two complete practices in the past week.
“Not ready. Not 100 percent ready,” Oates said. “He could go. [Pittsburgh is] really good team and don’t want to put him in a position where he’s behind the 8-ball a little bit.”
With Green out, the Capitals will stick with the defensive lineup that they used against St. Louis and Detroit, with Karl Alzner and John Carlson anchoring the group, Tyson Strachan skating alongside Nate Schmidt as the second pairing and Alex Urbom with Steve Oleksy as the third.
Green is eligible to be activated off injured reserve at any time and Oates said it’s possible the defenseman returns to the lineup for back-to-back games Friday and Saturday against Montreal and at Toronto, respectively.
“Better than yesterday. Mentally I’m in a good place, when you’re getting better and you can actually get back on the ice and work on your strength,” Green said. “This is my second real day where I’ve actually skated. Yesterday was a good one. Today was even better. I don’t think one practice would have been enough. It’s important I strengthen the leg and also my endurance so I’m ready to go.”
>> In other injury updates, defenseman John Erskine also took part in the lengthy scratches skate and won’t be returning to the lineup quite yet, either. Erskine was placed on long term injured reserve in late October and Wednesday is the first day he could be activated from that list, but he is still working on building up the strength in his surgically-repaired knee. More on Erskine in a little bit.
>> Braden Holtby gets the nod against the Penguins and is expected to be opposed by Marc-Andre Fleury. Against Pittsburgh, Holtby has a career record of 0-3 with a .861 save percentage and 4.53 goals-against average.
>> Healthy scratches will be the same as the St. Louis game with Eric Fehr and Jay Beagle out among forwards and Dmitry Orlov out among the defensemen.
>> Here are the expected lineups for both teams.
Chris Kunitz-Sidney Crosby-Beau Bennett
Pascal Dupuis-Evgeni Malkin-James Neal
Brian Gibbons-Brandon Sutter-Jussi Jokinen
Tanner Glass-Joe Vitale-Craig Adams
Brooks Orpik-Paul Martin
Olli Maatta-Kris Letang
Matt Niskanen-Deryk Engelland
Marc-Andre Fleury, Jeff Zatkoff