While their teammates are getting ready for Game 1 tonight against the Lightning, both Mike Knuble and Dennis Wideman remain optimistic that they’ll be able to return to the Capitals’ lineup at some point during this Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Wideman and Knuble, who are recovering from a leg hematoma and suspected right hand injury, respectively, took part in a supplementary workout with the players recently recalled from Hershey and healthy scratches again Friday morning. Coach Bruce Boudreau has said multiple times that he believes Knuble will return at some point during this matchup with Tampa Bay and the veteran right wing agreed.
“I think that’s very realistic,” said Knuble, who started to take hard shots in practice. “When that’s going to be I don’t know. There are a lot of factors. And so it kind of depends on how everything is going. If they keep winning, you don’t want to upset the boat. But at the same time I’m anxious to get back in. I’ll get back in as soon as I can. It’s tough to watch, but at the same time it’s fun to watch.”
As for Wideman, it’s a gradual process for him to regain the strength and conditioning as well of the range of motion in his leg following the hematoma.
“The range of motion is getting better, the skating is getting better, just gotta get in shape. Get a little more power in the leg and hopefully make a comeback shortly,” Wideman said. “We did a little skate there at the end. I mean, I’m still not 100 percent but it’s definitely a whole lot closer than it was a couple days ago.”
What may also play a part in determining when Knuble or Wideman can return will be how much time they’re able to practice with the team, given that at the start of this series the Capitals will play four games in six nights, with back-to-back contests in Tampa Bay. The players have benefited from the larger group in the secondary practice, though, Knuble said.
“I think we’ve been working relatively hard. And at this time of year any conditioning you get out of the games basically. It’s nice to have some younger players around and [Braden] Holtby just to drive the pace, move the puck quickly. So having a few more bodies around is always good.”