Updated 1:39 p.m.: In the Washington Capitals’ first practice back from a successful California trip Monday, Mikhail Grabovski was back on the ice with his teammates for the first time in nearly a month.
Grabovski, 30, has missed 20 of the last 21 games because of a sprained left ankle and hasn’t taken part in a full practice session since the morning skate Feb. 27 in Florida. He participated in practice fully but stayed out on the ice long after everyone else had departed, testing his injured ankle by skating laps. Given the length of time Grabovski has been out, he likely would need several practices without a setback before getting back in game action.
“Feel better, feel excited,” Grabovski said after the workout. “I don’t know right now, just felt a little bit better. First practice with the team, we’ll see this week how I’m going to feel and what coaches have to say.”
The veteran center said he’s improving but there’s still some discomfort and a lack of strength in his ankle.
“Not pain but just not comfortable a little bit. I still have tape, I tape my ankle but every day better and team help me recovery faster,” Grabovski said. “Little bit nerves today because guys kind of push me a little bit. They joking but it helps me be in team, feel the team around. Right now really excited to just skate, it was really positive to see my friends on the ice.”
He suffered the initial injury Jan. 24 at New Jersey, when Devils captain Bryce Salvador fell on his ankle. After missing eight games before the Olympic break, Grabovski was ready to return to the lineup in late February but re-injured the same ankle during the first shift of that first game back against the Panthers, when Nick Bjugstad fell on it.
“He’s got to go through a few practices before we consider games,” said Coach Adam Oates, who wouldn’t rule out the chance that Grabovski could play Saturday against Boston. “Possible, see how he responds tomorrow.”
>> Goaltender Jaroslav Halak took part in practice Monday after skipping a start Saturday in San Jose because of a lower-body injury but said he would be able to play Tuesday against the Kings if called upon. Halak finished with 27 saves in a 2-1 shootout loss at Los Angeles last week.
“Everything is good. Just needed a little break, I got it and I’m ready again,” Halak said. “Every game I play since I came here it was like a playoff game, your body gets a beating and for us every game from now on is like a playoff game we need to get all the points. I’m good now, ready to go again.”
>> The Capitals might be back in Washington, but they’re sticking with the same line combinations in practice that they used on the three-game trip.
Grabovski, Volpatti skating as extras