Washington Capitals Coach Barry Trotz alluded to changes on the defense pairs before Wednesday’s game, that Taylor Chorney would be in the lineup for Nate Schmidt. But with Schmidt not missing a shift against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night, the swap seemed to be about performance.
When the Capitals came out for warmups, Schmidt wasn’t on the ice, unusual for a healthy scratch. The team then announced that he was missing the game because of a lower-body injury and was listed as “day-to-day.” After the game, Trotz indicated that the injury is likely not that serious.
“He just took a puck the last game,” Trotz said. “I’ll give you more information on Friday would be the best way to answer that because I don’t know all of the results. But I’m sure if it was something that was very permanent, I would know that, and I don’t know anything right now.”
Schmidt played 16 minutes 45 seconds against the Penguins, blocking four shots. The team has an off day Thursday before playing another set of back-to-back games Friday and Saturday. Schmidt has two goals and 13 assists this season, promoted from a third-pair role to a first-pair spot when Brooks Orpik was injured.
With John Carlson out three to four weeks after a “procedure” for a lower-body injury, Schmidt has been skating on the third pair with either Mike Weber or Chorney. The Capitals traded for Weber to get more defensive depth, and Carlson being placed on long-term injured reserve underscored that. But another blue-line injury with less than 20 games until the playoffs would be bad news for Washington.
Fortunately, Chorney filled in well for Schmidt on Wednesday, scoring a goal in the first period. It was just his second career goal and his first with the Capitals.