The Capitals held their first optional practice — morning skates are always optional — of the season Tuesday and given the recent schedule and lack of an off day, most players elected to skip the on-ice session.

Nine players skated at KCI. They were: Alexander Semin, John Erskine, Mathieu Perreault, Cody Eakin, John Carlson, Jeff Schultz, Dmitry Orlov, Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth.

Erskine, who missed the game against Phoenix after he fell on his surgically repaired left shoulder during Sunday’s practice, said he’s unsure when he could return to the lineup but hopes it will be this week.

“I could be back tomorrow, I could be back Friday; it all depends how it feels tomorrow,” said Erskine, who underwent surgery on his left shoulder in May and has played eight games this season. “Just want to make sure it didn’t slide out or anything. It didn’t do that. It just doesn’t feel great, so I’ve got to build up the strength again and hopefully it won’t be too much longer.”

Erskine missed Washington’s game against New Jersey on Nov. 12 because of soreness in that same shoulder but since returning from that absence things appeared to be going well for the blueliner.

On Nov. 17 in Winnipeg, Erskine fought Jets forward Chris Thorburn and his shoulder was no worse for wear.

“It was in the back of my mind,” Erskine said about fighting with the repaired shoulder. “I thought it held up pretty good. It wasn’t a long fight so that probably helped me out but it held up good and it felt good.”

But on Sunday, Erskine was tripped up and wound up falling hard to the ice with his shoulder taking the brunt of the impact, with all of his weight coming down on it.

“Things were going alright,” Erskine said. “That practice, I landed on it pretty hard and it just set me back a few days. Hopefully it gets better quick.”

— With regard to Semin, Coach Bruce Boudreau wouldn’t say whether the Russian winger will be back in the lineup on Wednesday when the Capitals host the Jets. “We talked to him a bit this morning,” Boudreau said. “I haven’t decided yet, on any lineup situation at all.”

— Caught up with Stanislav Galiev, who is in town to meet with Capitals team doctors. He underwent surgery in Washington to have a screw placed in his broken left wrist and unfortunately it will likely be several months before he’s back in a game, but the prospect is in good spirits. Doesn’t hurt that he gets to hang out with his friend Dmitry Orlov while in town, either.