“We’ll continue to take every day as it kind of plays itself out,” Reirden said. “And he is getting a ton of action in practice now and full-speed battle drills, and as he reacts positively, he is getting closer and closer to being added back in our lineup.”
Kempny, who was cleared for contact last week, said Wednesday he was a little “scared or worried” about competing in contact drills, but after going through a few practices, he said he feels a lot more comfortable. Kempny played in 71 games last season for Washington, with six goals and 19 assists before his injury cut his season short.
“You know, a couple practices behind me with the contact, you know, with real paddles, I feel pretty good about it,” Kempny said. “Still need more practices and I’ll be ready to go. … You know, feel a lot better on the ice, a lot more comfortable about everything. Just focusing on myself right now and getting myself ready.”
With Kempny’s status still up in the air, the Capitals had a brief scare during Wednesday’s practice, when defenseman Dmitry Orlov left the ice early. The team said Orlov suffered a lower body injury but leaving the practice was just precautionary. Reirden said Orlov is expected to play against Nashville.
The Capitals will have six healthy defensemen available against Nashville, pending any moves. Jonas Siegenthaler has been taking Kempny’s place in the top pair with John Carlson, with Orlov and Nick Jensen on the second pair and Radko Gudas and Tyler Lewington on the third pair in Tuesday night’s game.
The defensemen have fared well without Kempny, helping the Capitals grab six of eight possible points in the season’s first week.
Siegenthaler, 22, has averaged 17:19 of ice time this season. He had a primary assist on Evgeny Kuznetsov’s goal in Tuesday night’s 4-3 overtime loss to Dallas at Capital One Arena and skated for 15:09 at even-strength Tuesday, getting 1:54 on the penalty kill. But he took another minor penalty while the Capitals were trying to protect a one-goal lead early in the third period, his fourth minor in four games.
“We’ve got to continue to work with him,” Reirden said. “He’s a young player developing, playing big minutes. We’re working on improving his game and getting consistency to it. It’s definitely a work in progress at this point of the year and continue to put guys in situations where you think they can succeed, and if they don’t, then we’ll try different options.”