Updated, 2:20 p.m.
Backstrom skated 22 minutes 6 seconds in Washington’s 5-1 win over the Devils Saturday, and he is the only player who appeared in that victory that is not taking part in practice. Marcus Johansson, who missed the past six games with an upper-body injury, filled in Backstrom’s usual spot centering the second line during practice but Oates said the 22-year-old pivot is not yet ready to return to the lineup.
Veteran winger Jason Chimera was forced to leave practice early with what Oates described as a lower-body injury, and it’s unclear if he will be able to play against the Hurricanes as well.
“He felt a little something,” Oates said of Chimera. “We’ll find out in the morning. We were just being safe at practice.”
With Backstrom and Chimera both questionable to play Tuesday and Johansson not yet ready to return to the lineup, it’s unclear how the Capitals might try to bolster their lineup if one or both of them are unable to face Carolina.
None of the call-up options in Hershey are especially enticing. Among those on two-way contracts, Ryan Stoa, 25, has played 37 NHL games in his career and Casey Wellman, 25, has suited up in 41 NHL contests.
“That’s a good question,” Oates said when asked who the Capitals would call up. “I’d have to talk to [General Manager] George [McPhee]. I don’t know all the statuses down there quite honestly.”
As for the rest of the Capitals walking wounded:
>> Mike Green took part in practice after sitting out the past three games with a groin injury and said the extra two days off were exactly what he needed. The defenseman sounded rather optimistic that he would be ready to play against the Hurricanes.
“I’m 100 percent and ready to go,” Green said, adding that he’s not concerned about the prospect of playing back-to-back games on Tuesday and Wednesday. “The reason why I’m ready to play is I’m 100 percent and it was either battle through it on Saturday or else wait until I’m 100 percent so I could play back-to-backs, so here we are.”
>> Brooks Laich, who has been hampered by a groin injury he originally suffered during the lockout, is not on the ice and hasn’t skated with the team since Feb. 16. The Capitals’ utility forward is working on building up strength off the ice, Oates said.
“He still doesn’t want to go out on the ice until he feels – right now he doesn’t want to go out until he feels that he can actually continue up the ladder. But it’s tough,” Oates said. “They’re weird injuries. You think it’s improving and then all of a sudden it’s like, ‘uh-oh,’ and you’re not quite sure.”
General Manager George McPhee’s assessment of Laich’s status didn’t offer a lot of encouragement.
“Concerned about it. Certainly would like to have him in there,” McPhee said. “We’ll keep the fingers crossed and hope we see him.”
With all of that in mind, here’s what the line combinations look like this morning: