Updated 12:47 p.m. Three days after being knocked out the Capitals’ shootout loss to the Kings in a violent collision with Alex Ovechkin, Jack Hillen was back on the ice with his teammates Friday morning but the veteran defenseman isn’t completely healthy and might not face the Bruins on Saturday at Verizon Center.
“We’ll wait and see how he feels tomorrow. I didn’t expect him to practice today, he was pretty sore,” Coach Adam Oates said. “It was good to have him out there. We’ll just wait and see.”
Hillen suffered what the team will only describe as an upper body injury when he crossed paths with Ovechkin at 2:22 of overtime against Los Angeles Tuesday. The hit stunned the star winger and left Hillen motionless on the ice for several seconds before he made it to the dressing room under his own power.
Oates said the team told Hillen to take Thursday off because he was still sore from skating directly into Ovechkin – who is four inches taller and 40 pound heavier than the blueliner – at full speed.
In Friday’s practice session Hillen didn’t appear limited as he worked through drills alongside Mike Green, who has been his usual defensive partner in recent games. If Hillen is unable to play on Saturday, John Erskine will draw back into the lineup for his first game since March 5 at Philadelphia. He’s been a healthy scratch the past seven games.
>> Mikhail Grabovski took part in his third consecutive practice this week but will sit out Saturday’s contest, marking the 22nd of the last 23 games he’s missed with a sprained left ankle. Oates acknowledged that in addition to making sure Grabovski is ready to jump into a frantic push to the playoffs, the performance of the Capitals current forward lines plays a role in when and where the veteran center would return to the mix.
“We’ll see how the team plays tomorrow and we’ll go from there,” Oates said. “Got to make sure he’s ready to play mentally and physically and also depending on how we’re playing.”
>> Brooks Laich skated prior to the full team session, as he said he would, marking the first time he’s gone through a true on-ice session since undergoing groin surgery on March 17.
>> The Capitals are sticking with the same line combinations they’ve used since the March 20 game at Los Angeles in practice, but in case you need a refresher here they are:
Grabovski, Volpatti skating as extras