On his way to Verizon Center on Tuesday night, defenseman Taylor Chorney called the Washington Capitals and warned them he was feeling ill. With Brooks Orpik on long-term injured reserve, the Capitals don’t have an extra defenseman, so Chorney had to do his best to play.

“We didn’t have any choice; he had to go in,” Capitals Coach Barry Trotz said. “We don’t have any extra players right now, so I give him a lot of credit for trying to step in there and do it.”

He ultimately couldn’t finish the game against the Panthers, taking his last shift about 34 minutes into it and then being ruled out with flu symptoms. He finished with just 4 minutes and 34 seconds of ice time, and he wasn’t at practice on Wednesday. Trotz said the Capitals will add a defenseman on emergency recall on Thursday morning because the team is unsure if Chorney will be healthy enough to play against the New York Islanders.

“We don’t know if he’s available,” Trotz said. “We might not know until after warm-ups.”

An NHL team can’t have more than 23 players on its active roster, subject to the constraints of the salary cap, but the league also requires a minimum of two goaltenders, six defensemen and 12 forwards on its active roster at all times. A player is not considered on the active roster if he has been placed on injured reserve or suspended by the NHL.

If the team falls below any of these minimum categories, it is permitted to recall a player without subjection to waivers in order to meet the NHL minimum roster requirements, and the player must be returned to the American Hockey League when the player he is replacing returns. With Orpik on injured reserve, the Capitals have just six active defensemen, so if Chorney can’t play because of an illness, Washington will be permitted to do an emergency recall.

An emergency recall gives the Capitals the flexibility to potentially bring up Aaron Ness, who is close to the waiver-eligibility benchmark of 10 games or 30 days on the NHL roster after playing in eight games for Washington earlier this season. In that stint, Ness had two assists and was plus-four. Since the AHL is on an all-star break right now, Trotz said he doesn’t know where players are, so it’s unclear who will be recalled.

A relatively under-the-radar offseason signing, Chorney has played in 39 games for the Capitals while the defense has been ravaged with injuries. He’s played every game on the third pair, and he has five points.