Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie was back in a red jersey on Friday afternoon, skating on a top line with center Nicklas Backstrom and left wing Alex Ovechkin. It seemed to be another step — probably the last step — before he returns to the lineup from an undisclosed “upper-body” injury on Saturday night against the Philadelphia Flyers.
“I was up with Nick and O in the practice and I felt pretty good, so we’ll see where we go here in the next 24 hours,” Oshie said. “I think it’s looking pretty good right now.”
Coach Barry Trotz wouldn’t commit to Oshie playing tomorrow, but said he’s “really close.” Oshie, who has 24 goals and 19 assists in 50 games this season, practiced on the top power-play unit, another indication he’ll play against Philadelphia. It was in a game against the Flyers that Oshie absorbed several big hits that caused him to miss four games. He said this injury is unrelated to the shoulder injury he had earlier this season.
Trotz said Washington has been especially cautious with recent injuries because the team is comfortable in the standings, presently in first place in the league.
“I’ve been trying to get back as quick as I can, as quick as they’d let me,” Oshie said. “We were cautious with this. We’ll see what [head trainer Greg Smith] says and what Trotzy says, but it was nice to get out there and have a full practice.”
Forward Andre Burakovsky progressed in his injury recovery by skating with full equipment after Friday’s practice. Trotz said Burakovsky is on schedule in his recovery from a hand injury, but is not expected back for a couple more weeks. Currently on long-term injured reserve, he can’t be activated until March 9.
His hand was in a full cast after he blocked a shot last month, and he’s now in what Trotz called a more “functional” cast. It looked like an air cast, and he was able to wear gloves over it. Trotz ran Burakovsky’s conditioning skate after the team’s practice.
“He was tired,” Trotz said with a laugh. “He was fine. Had to keep him from shooting a little bit, but he’s been working hard, working on his conditioning. Gave him a good test today.”
Thursday’s game against the Devils was defenseman Brooks Orpik’s first back in the lineup after what the team said was a “lower-body” injury. Orpik revealed it was actually a “super weird” leg infection that may have been caused a fluid build up from where he blocked a shot several weeks ago. The good news for him is that it’s not something that will linger.