As a few players trickled out for an optional practice Thursday, there was a bit of a pleasant surprise on the ice.

Defenseman Mike Green, who underwent sports hernia surgery on Jan. 17, was in full gear skating for the third straight day this week and appears to be on schedule in his recovery. Green skated for roughly 25 minutes before heading to the dressing room.

Last week, General Manager George McPhee said it was possible the two-time Norris Trophy finalist would begin skating this week. That it went as planned is definitely a good sign for the defenseman, who has missed all but 10 of Washington’s 50 games this season.

— It’s a lightly attended practice here at KCI, with only eight players on the ice in addition to Green. Those on the ice include: Alex Ovechkin, Tomas Vokoun, Joel Ward, Cody Eakin, Joel Rechlicz, Jeff Schultz, John Erskine and Jay Beagle.

— Capitals goaltending prospect Philipp Grubauer was named ECHL rookie of the month for January. Grubauer went 7-1-0 with a .935 save percentage and 1.66 goals against average for the South Carolina Stingrays this month.

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