The Capitals are on the brink of being eliminated from the playoff race, and it appears increasingly likely they’ll have to manage without defenseman Mike Green during the final week of the regular season.
Coach Adam Oates said Green will not be with the team when it travels to St. Louis and Carolina over the next four days, and could not rule out the possibility that the 28-year-old alternate captain has played his last game this season.
Green was not on the ice for practice Monday morning after suffering what the team called an upper body injury during Washington’s 4-3 shootout win over the New York Islanders. He did not return to the game. Oates said the injury occurred “going into the corner” late in the first period.
“I can’t answer that right now,” said Oates when asked if Green would play at all the rest of the regular season. “Not going on the trip, but then after that hopefully he can.”
Oates also said the Capitals will be without defensemen Jack Hillen and Patrick Wey, both of whom have suspected concussions, during their final two road games of the year. Neither was on the ice during Monday’s practice.
The coach hinted Green’s absence could lead to defenseman Connor Carrick’s return to the lineup. The 19-year old rookie has been a healthy scratch the past nine games and has not played since a March. 16 win over Toronto as his effectiveness deteriorated.
Carrick has appeared in 30 contests this season, tallying one goal, five assists and a -12 rating.
“The game gets slower and slower every 10 rows you go up. You do learn by watching,” said Carrick, who noted Oates had not yet told him whether he’d be in the lineup Tuesday at St. Louis.
“It’s definitely been a long year, but to say you hit a wall, to admit that would be more hitting rock bottom than hitting a wall if you ask me. I feel all right. Emotionally, it’s been a long year. Literally it’s been a long year. But hockey’s a fun game. It’s not like I’m crunching it out 9 to 5 every day. People who have regular jobs don’t get a break. So if I were to get back in the lineup and play poorly, it wouldn’t be because I was too tired. My dad, who gets up to go to work every day, wouldn’t hear it. So if I get the opportunity, I’ll be real excited and I’ll be ready.”
*For those keeping track at home, Oates went back to the lines he started with during the Islanders game at Monday’s practice…