After taking a maintenance day on Tuesday, defenseman Karl Alzner was again absent for Wednesday’s practice. Alzner has an upper-body injury, but Capitals Coach Barry Trotz said he expects him to play against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday.
In the first-round series, Alzner was a plus-three with two assists, skating on the top defensive pair with Matt Niskanen. He averaged 22 minutes and 44 seconds of ice time, and he blocked 13 shots against the Flyers, second to Niskanen’s 15. Alzner has the franchise record for consecutive games played, running that total up to 458 after playing in every regular-season game this year. He blocked the third-most shots (207) in the league this season.
“He’s a warrior,” Trotz said on Tuesday. “He played a lot of minutes. A lot of pucks hit him. He played a lot of body on guys. We just felt that we give him an extra day; he put a lot into that series. I expect him to be just fine.”
Defenseman Brooks Orpik skated again on Wednesday, fully participating in practice. He has not yet been cleared by the doctors for an upper-body injury he sustained in Game 3 against the Philadelphia Flyers in the teams’ first-round series, and it’s unclear if he’ll be available to play on Thursday against the Penguins. Orpik was not made available to the media on Wednesday.
“We’ll see,” Trotz said. “I have talked to [Greg Smith] and our trainers. Obviously, he’s skating with us. He’s still probably considered him day-to-day, unless I get an update. He’s progressing, or he wouldn’t be out there. He’s getting close.”