Mike Green will miss a third consecutive game with a concussion Tuesday night as the Capitals host the New York Islanders at Verizon Center and it’s possible the defenseman will not play another game before the NHL’s Olympic break.
“He didn’t feel great yesterday afternoon, I guess,” said Oates. “It looks that way. I can’t guarantee it, but it looks that way.”
Green suffered a concussion when he was hit into the end boards by Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner in the first period of the Capitals’ 5-2 loss at Columbus on Jan. 30. While he has skated with the team since – taking part in a practice Feb. 1 and then skating for another 10 minutes Monday – Green’s symptoms still remain.
Before Green is eligible to return, he must be symptom-free at rest as well as symptom-free during exercise and physical exertion. Then he can undergo a neuropsychological testing to determine if any abnormalities remain. Only after passing those tests can a concussed player return to the lineup.
Green has a past concussion history, most recently missing 20 games in 2011 with the head injury, so both he and the team are familiar with the unpredictable recovery that goes with it.
“If you’ve ever had a concussion, you know what it feels like. You put yourself at risk going back out there if you don’t have the reaction time you need,” Green said on Feb. 1. “Another bump to the head wouldn’t be good. So the protocol and what they’ve implemented has really helped. I think the players understand what to look for and how to react, so I’d rather miss a couple games than have a season.”
>> The Capitals will have two of their walking wounded in the lineup against the Islanders, though. Eric Fehr, who missed Monday’s practice after being hobbled by a blocked shot, was back on the ice and will center the third line.
Brooks Laich, who continues to contend with a nagging groin injury, is expected to play but will start the game as fourth line left wing because the coaching staff isn’t sure how the forward will hold up through the game.
That “is tough for him, tough for us. Him and I talked about it this morning, he doesn’t want to be like that because he feels really good,” Oates said. “Obviously as the game goes along if he looks fine he’ll get more minutes, but until then the regular guys have got to do their deal.”
>> Aaron Volpatti will not be available after suffering an undisclosed upper-body injury on Feb. 2. He was seen holding his left arm on the bench during the game against the Red Wings and hasn’t skated the past two days. Oates said the gritty forward went for an MRI on Tuesday.
>> Mikhail Grabovski remains sidelined by an injured left ankle and did not skate today. He will miss a sixth straight game with the injury.
>> Michal Neuvirth gets a third consecutive start and will be opposed by the Islanders’ Evgeni Nabovkov. New York’s 38-year-old netminder has had success against the Capitals, going 12-2-3 with a 2.32 goals-against average and .919 save percentage.
Thomas Vanek–John Tavares–Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner–Frans Nielsen–Cal Clutterbuck
Josh Bailey–Brock Nelson–Colin McDonald
Eric Boulton–Casey Cizikas–Peter Regin
Brian Strait–Andrew MacDonald
Thomas Hickey–Lubomir Visnovsky
Matt Donovan–Calvin de Haan
Evgeni Nabokov will start, Kevin Poulin will back up.