For the first time since he injured his left ankle two weeks ago, Mikhail Grabovski skated through a full practice with his teammates Friday.
“Still feel pain, it hurts. Better I just rest and recover,” Grabovski said when asked about facing the Devils. “For me it’s just better one practice before the [break] so I feel kind of around the team, I hate to be by myself.”
The veteran center won’t play Saturday in the Capitals’ final game before the Olympic break, which will mark the eighth consecutive game he’s missed with the ankle injury. But Grabovski hopes to be ready to return once the NHL resumes its schedule in late February.
Without Grabovski in the lineup over the past two weeks the Capitals have shuffled through several line combinations, using Brooks Laich, Jay Beagle and Casey Wellman as second line center, with mixed results. The timing of his absence also coincided with the Capitals ending their seven-game losing streak and fighting to climb back in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. He wants to be part of that effort to get the team back on track.
“Disappointed because we don’t have the best time of the year, our team. I’m more disappointed I have injury in this moment,” Grabovski said. “But maybe that’s good and I can rest and see everything from different perspective.”
He also would like a chance to face Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador, who hit him in the crease on Jan. 24 and twisted his ankle causing the injury.
“I want to come back and I want to play against this D who make this hit to me. It was just so brutal,” Grabovski said. I “need to be stronger and be ready for defenseman that can play behind like this and find a different play, spot where nobody can [hurt] me and I can score goals.”
Players aren’t allowed to use NHL teams’ training facilities during the Olympic break but Grabovski said he has a training routine that is easy to complete on his own. He is planning on taking time off during the break though and is taking a trip to Aspen, Colorado with his family so his kids can enjoy more wintry weather than they get in Washington.
“Not for skiing, just for my kids — they like the snow. They can play in the snow, tubing,” Grabovski said. “It’s change a little bit. I always go on the breaks to a hot place.”