Boudreau: Injuries are no excuse for Capitals to tail off

By Katie Carrera
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 26, 2010; 12:31 AM

Entering the final week of October and preparing for their first lengthy road trip, the Washington Capitals' injury list reads more like something from late in the NHL's regular season or playoffs.

Seven players of the 23 that made Washington's roster out of training camp are nursing injuries of various sorts. Through eight games 27 players have dressed, a number that's set to increase with the newest addition of goaltender Braden Holtby.

Regardless of how many bumps, bruises or more serious ailments the Capitals pile up, though, Coach Bruce Boudreau refuses to accept any of it as an excuse for accepting less than a high standard of play.

"I hate teams that make excuses about it," Boudreau said. "It's opportunities for guys that play five minutes to play 15 minutes, for guys that play 15 minutes to play 22 minutes. Quite frankly they all go home and [complain] that they don't play enough and now is the chance to show us what they've got."

Mike Green, who missed three games with a shoulder injury before limited playing time on Saturday in the Capitals' 4-3 overtime win against the Atlanta Thrashers, said he is "pretty close to being back" but that no decision had been made on his availability later in the week. Boudreau said he expects the two-time Norris Trophy candidate to be ready for a full game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, when the Capitals begin a stretch of three road games in four days.

As for the other defensemen, rookie John Carlson, who appeared slowed by a leg injury, was given an extra day off from practice to rest and Tom Poti (lower-body injury) skated just 10 minutes on Monday. Both are expected to make the trip but if either is not available the Capitals could recall a defenseman from the AHL's Hershey Bears. Or, Washington could opt for the variation they used in practice, with Brooks Laich skating as a defenseman, Boudreau said.

After missing from practice for a week, Boyd Gordon was back on the ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex Monday and participated in the entire practice and lengthy skate afterward. Gordon, who Boudreau said last week was healthy and given a rest, did not expand upon the reason for his absence.

"Nothing [was wrong], I was good. Just some time off. ... That's all there really is to it," Gordon said.

Rookie center Marcus Johansson, who suffered a hip injury when he got his skate stuck in a rut against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden, said he got through practice without any ill effects and hopes to play against Carolina. Boudreau didn't offer any definitive update on Johansson's status or that of Matt Bradley, who the Capitals say has a lower-body injury.

Varlamov is ailing again

Goaltender Semyon Varlamov suffered his second setback of the season with what is believed to be another groin injury, only a week after he was taken off injured reserve after a groin problem kept him inactive for nearly three weeks. Varlamov will not travel on the trip, Boudreau said.

The Capitals recalled Holtby, 21, from Hershey and reassigned Dany Sabourin to the AHL. With three games in four days in three different time zones, it's possible Holtby could make his NHL debut but Boudreau wouldn't rule out playing Michal Neuvirth in each contest.

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