PHILADELPHIA — Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov won’t play Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers, as he’s considered “day-to-day” with an undisclosed “upper-body” injury, but in good news for Washington, Kuznetsov seems to have avoided a long-term injury. Coach Barry Trotz said that he “for sure” expects Kuznetsov back in the lineup before the playoffs, which are 11 games away.
“I like the terminology of ‘day-to-day’ much more than ‘month-to-month’ or ‘week-to-week,’ ” Trotz said. “That’s terrific news, but we’ll see where he is tomorrow. But the terminology of that sounds good to me.”
Kuznetsov is the team’s second-leading scorer with 21 goals and 50 assists. He seemed to injure his left arm late in the second period of Friday night’s game between the Capitals and the Islanders. Kuznetsov was slashed by Thomas Hickey and then collided awkwardly with the end boards. He’s played every game the past two seasons, and the two games he missed during his rookie season (2014-15) weren’t because of injury. Washington is expected to take a cautious approach with his health, especially with the team sitting in first place in the Metropolitan Division.
The Capitals have had all four of their regular centers in the lineup for every game since Oct. 26, when Nicklas Backstrom was out for one game with an illness. It’s unclear how Trotz will adjust his line configurations without Kuznetsov in the lineup, but Washington has some options with rookie forwards Chandler Stephenson and Travis Boyd both able to play center.
“It seems strange because that’s one of the consistent areas of our game, that up the middle you knew you had Backy, you had Kuzy, Lars [Eller] and [Jay Beagle],” Trotz said. “That’s a pretty good feeling every night to be strong up the middle. It’ll be different. … Everybody’s got to pull on the rope, especially up the middle. We’ve sort of got a plan for center ice; we may start one way and then we may move it. I’ve got Plan A, B and C ready, so we’ll see what Philly throws at us and we’ll respond.”
Brooks Orpik out with ‘lower-body’ injury
Just a few minutes before Sunday’s game against the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center, the Capitals announced that defenseman Brooks Orpik would not play because of an undisclosed “lower-body” injury. This is the first game Orpik has missed this season, and he’s considered “day-to-day” by the team. The third pairing will feature rookie Christian Djoos paired with Jakub Jerabek, who Washington acquired just before the trade deadline.