Neither Nicklas Backstrom nor Mike Green skated Sunday as the Capitals held one more practice in San Jose before departing for Los Angeles in the afternoon.
While Coach Dale Hunter didn’t offer any further update on Backstrom or Green, the Capitals appear to be bracing for the very real possibility that they will not have either in the lineup against the Kings, and possibly longer.
Backstrom, who was scratched against the Sharks because of the head injury he suffered when elbowed by Rene Bourque, hasn’t skated in the past two days in what has been a sharp contrast to the mood of both the center and Hunter after practice Friday morning in San Jose. At that time, both were optimistic that Backstrom might not even miss a game but since those positive statements the 24-year-old Swede has not been on the ice.
Hunter said Sunday that Backstrom will remain on the trip with the team.
“We don’t want to say one way or the other,” Hunter said when asked to assess the chances of Backstrom playing Monday after not skating for two days. “It’s day to day. We’ll see how he is tomorrow again.”
Green left Saturday’s game in the second period with tightness in his groin and was seen walking with a pronounced limp on Saturday. It was only the second game Green had been in the lineup after returning from a 23-game absence because of a strained right groin muscle.
While it’s unclear how long either player may be out of the lineup, the Capitals know they will need to pick up the slack in the interim.
“With Mike we’ve been dealing with that all season long, it sounds bad but that’s nothing new. We’re used to it almost,” Troy Brouwer said. “But Nicky is our best player, he controls the play when he’s on the ice he makes things happens. We’ve just got to find other ways around that. We’ve had good secondary scoring all season long and that has to pick up again in general. We can’t expect [Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin] to carry the load. We need to make sure as a group that all the secondary players are contributing as well.”
--Everyone else on the roster was on the ice for practice Sunday. Lines remained the same as they were against the Sharks while the defensive pairings rotated. If Green is unable to face the Kings, however, don’t be surprised to see John Erskine get back in the lineup.
Here are those lines: