For the first time since last season, the Washington Capitals asked their video coach to strap on the pads and block pucks in the net. A former college goaltender, Brett Leonhardt had served in the emergency role before in more stressful situations, once in 2008 while working as the team’s web producer, and most recently in November 2013, when he sat dressed on the bench then retreated into his office to review tape during the intermissions.
And now the Capitals needed him again, this time when goaltender Justin Peters suffered a lower-body injury during his relief appearance Friday night, summoned during the second period of a 4-2 loss to the Dallas Stars. Peters stopped all nine shots he faced, a light workload while Washington labored to catch up, but did not appear at the team’s surprise practice Saturday morning. With the Hershey Bears on the road for a back-to-back this weekend, that meant Leonhardt was pressed into duty.
Peters joined a day-to-day injury list now stretched to five Capitals, and though starter Braden Holtby is expected to oppose the visiting Boston Bruins at Verizon Center on Sunday night, the team would still need to recall either Philipp Grubauer or Phoenix Copley from the minor leagues on an emergency basis. According to Coach Barry Trotz, Peters’ status won’t be determined until the team skates Sunday morning.
The same went for forward Brooks Laich, who incurred an upper-body injury against the Stars and, like Peters, did not practice. Laich previously missed 15 games earlier this season with a left shoulder injury.
“They’re both day-to-day,” Trotz said. “Little injuries that they suffered last night. We won’t know until tomorrow. I won’t be able to answer that until tomorrow morning.”
Defensemen Brooks Orpik (lower body) and John Erskine (neck) both skated with strength coach Mark Nemish once the Capitals finished their roughly 30-mintue practice. Orpik, who has already missed two straight games after tweaking the pre-existing issue during a practice, is not expected to face the Bruins, meaning emergency-recalled defenseman Nate Schmidt will make a third consecutive appearance.
Forward Michael Latta, meanwhile, practiced and continues to progress toward recovering from Columbus forward Jared Boll’s check that dealt him an upper-body injury.
“He’s getting there,” Trotz said. “He’s still day-to-day right now. We’ll see how he is tomorrow.”
Forward Jay Beagle still has not skated since leaving Thursday’s loss to the New York Rangers with an apparent left shoulder injury. Officially listed with an upper-body issue, Beagle did not suffer any structural damage on Dan Girardi’s hit, which launched Beagle into the air and spun him sideways. Asked if the Capitals were concerned Beagle might miss a significant period of time, Trotz replied, “Shouldn’t be too long.”
Here is the full injury list, as it now stands:
F Jay Beagle (upper body)
F Brooks Laich (upper body)
F Michael Latta (upper body)
D Brooks Orpik (lower body)
G Justin Peters (lower body)
D John Erskine (neck)*
D Dmitry Orlov (wrist)**
**long-term injured reserve