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Brooks Orpik back at practice, but doubtful for game at Montreal

(Nick Wass/Associated Press)

Top-pair defenseman Brooks Orpik, who has missed the Washington Capitals’ last nine games with a lower-body injury, was back at practice for the first time in nearly two weeks on Monday, but Coach Barry Trotz said he’s “very doubtful” to play in the team’s next game at Montreal on Thursday.

“It’s not coming around really quick but it’s not something I would say we have to worry about long-term,” Trotz said. “If he had to play today he could play. But we’re trying to get this settled down. Every time he seems to get settled down, it jumps up. We don’t want that. We want it to totally settle down.”

Trotz said Orpik, 35, definitely won’t need surgery for the injury, which he’s maintained is not serious. The Capitals can afford to be patient, as the team is 7-1-1 in the nine games he’s missed since suffering the injury in the second period at Detroit on Nov. 10. Nate Schmidt has taken Orpik’s place with John Carlson on the top pair and Taylor Chorney has stepped in on the third pair with Dmitry Orlov.

Orpik went through skating and shooting drills with the team before leaving practice early because he wouldn’t participate in forechecking drills.

“I think we’re getting close,” Trotz said. “I think he’s feeling better.”