ST. PAUL, Minn. — Defenseman Brooks Orpik won’t make his long-awaited return to the Washington Capitals lineup on Thursday night against the Minnesota Wild, and the Capitals could also be without center Mike Richards.
Orpik has missed 38 games with a lower-body bone injury. Coach Barry Trotz indicated it was possible Orpik could play after the team’s practice on Wednesday, and he said that even if he didn’t play in the game, he could participate in warmups to get reacquainted with a game-day routine. With Orpik still on long-term injured reserve, able to be activated at any time, Trotz said he won’t skate in the team’s warmups on Thursday night.
“We’ve done that with other guys, and he’s not going to do that — he’s still on long-term injury,” Trotz said. “He might not need that; that’s just things that we’ve done. We’ll see. We’ll get him in here soon.”
The team’s morning skate on Thursday was optional, so it was difficult to glean anything from that. Richards didn’t practice on Wednesday, a maintenance day for him, and he was on the ice on Thursday while Trotz was meeting with reporters. Because Richards was still skating, Trotz said he didn’t know if he would play against the Wild.
Richards, who signed with the team on Jan. 6 and is celebrating his 31st birthday on Thursday, has yet to score a point with the Capitals in nine games played. He’s mostly centered the fourth line and contributed on the penalty kill. If he were unable to play, then Brooks Laich would move to center with Stanislav Galiev as the left wing and Michael Latta on the right side.
Richards didn’t appear to miss a shift against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, but he skated over to the bench in pain after this fall:
— CAPITALS HILL (@CapitalsHill) February 10, 2016
Assuming Richards does play, here’s what the lineup is expected to look like:
Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie
Andre Burakovsky-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Justin Williams
Jason Chimera-Marcus Johansson-Tom Wilson
Brooks Laich-Mike Richards-Michael Latta
Nate Schmidt-John Carlson
Karl Alzner-Matt Niskanen
Dmitry Orlov-Taylor Chorney
Braden Holtby (starter)
Brooks Orpik (lower-body)
Jay Beagle (hand)