Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau said John Erskine is day-to-day, but that the undisclosed injury the rugged defenseman suffered Thursday is not something that is expected to keep him out of the lineup for long. Asked if the lack of a recall from Hershey indicated that Erskine would be available to face Buffalo Saturday night, Boudreau said the decision hadn’t been made yet.
“He’s still day-to-day, we’ll see how he is tomorrow morning,” Boudreau said. “That’s about the extent of it. It’s definitely not long term, but it’s hard to make a decision right now.”
Erskine left the eventual 4-3 overtime win over the Blue Jackets after skating one shift in the second period, which came after he fought Jared Boll. Although he said after the game that Erskine did not injure his hand, Boudreau alluded to the fact that Erskine did get hurt in the fight as did Capitals’ owner Ted Leonsis, who wrote on his blog: “In regards to John Erskine, I wish he hadn’t answered the bell at last night’s game.”
The defenseman didn’t take part in the optional skate at KCI on Friday, but when he left the building he wasn’t wearing any bandages or walking with any sort of limp, according to colleague Tarik El-Bashir.
As for what the Capitals will do if Erskine should miss some time or another defenseman suffer an injury, well, they’re aware of their options.
Washington could recall a defenseman from Hershey. Of the defensemen currently under an NHL contract with the Capitals and on the Bears’ roster, Brian Fahey is the only one to play with Washington this season. Fahey has appeared in seven games, which are the only NHL games of his career.
Patrick McNeill, who missed training camp and joined the Bears mid-season after recovering from off-season shoulder surgery, could be another option. He has yet to make his NHL debut.
Should the Capitals opt to not recall someone from Hershey, they could potentially use a forward back on defense. They’ve done so for spot duty in the past with Brooks Laich and Sergei Fedorov.
“We’ve got a lot of options,” Boudreau said. “We’ve gone through a lot of them and I don’t want to reveal all the options. A forward playing defense is not out of line. Brooks has played there before and done OK. He’s not Sergei Fedorov back there like when we had him, but that’s certainly something we are considering.”
--In other defenseman injury news, Tom Poti (groin) skated rather hard this morning. As Boudreau said yesterday with the now-famous “syrup running down a tree” comment, Poti appears to be making progress, but it’s still a slow process.