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Injured Caps Marcus Johansson, Brooks Orpik both progressing

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
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Center Marcus Johansson practiced with the team in a gray non-contact jersey on Friday, a sign he’s improving after an upper-body injury that has kept him out for two games. Defenseman Brooks Orpik, who’s missed 35 games with a lower-body injury, also practiced Friday, and he and Johansson will likely travel with the team on their three-game road swing to Nashville, Minnesota and Dallas next week.

Orpik and Johansson won’t play in the Capitals’ games on Saturday and Sunday, and with both games being matinee puck drops with no morning skate, the two will skate on their own over the weekend. Coach Barry Trotz said on Thursday that he didn’t expect Johansson to skate with the team until a practice next week.

“I felt better and better the last few days,” Johansson said. “It’s been going pretty quickly, so you want to be out there and skate with them and get back with the guys. That’s something you miss, too, so it was fun to be out there today.”

Johansson and Trotz said there’s no timetable for when he’ll be back in the lineup. With the Capitals’ schedule cluttered for the rest of the season, practices will be lighter. Orpik said Friday’s practice was more akin to a morning skate. That makes it harder to prepare an injured player to return to games. Trotz said ideally, he’d want someone to have “a couple” practices first.

“Now that you’re playing every second day, you’re not going to have those type of practices that you probably would like,” Trotz said. “It’s just not going to happen, so you don’t have any choice. You’re just going to have to rely on what we have in the limited practices. You’re going to throw a guy in and probably limit his minutes a little bit and let him get back into it a little bit.”

Orpik said his injury is “fine,” and now, it’s just a matter of getting the rest of his body to feel “normal and good again.” He stayed on the ice with Johansson well after the rest of the team went back to the locker room, trying to rediscover the game-like timing that’s now foreign to him after such a long layoff.

“When you break a bone, I think a lot of it is just bad luck, getting hit somewhere where you don’t have protection,” Orpik said. “I think anytime you miss games, I think you feel like you’re letting teammates down and management down, coaches down and fans down. Some of the stuff is inevitable when it comes to injuries, but that being said, I think you always feel a little bit of a let down.”

Asked to clarify whether he indeed broke a bone, Orpik said it’s up to the team to disclose his injury.