Kuznetsov skated on his own Thursday in Colorado and on Saturday — for the first time since the injury — he practiced with the team in a regular contact jersey. However, Kuznetsov did not partake in morning line rushes and is still not at “100 percent,” Capitals Coach Todd Reirden said. The team hopes Kuznetsov will be able to play Monday in Las Vegas, which is the final game of the team’s three-game road trip out West.
“Just wanted to see how things were going this morning,” Reirden said. “Still not at 100 percent so he will do some conditioning here and practice tomorrow and we will see we can get him in the game against Vegas.”
Kuznetsov was noncommittal after morning skate on whether he would be ready to play Monday.
“Whatever the docs will say, I will follow them,” Kuznetsov said. “But you know, it’s still tough to see [how I feel] between off the ice and on the ice, so I don’t think I’m in a rush right? I just have to pay more attention to some of those details a little bit and when I am going to feel good, the coaches are going to give me a chance to play.”
Kuznetsov said he is happy he has been able to get back on the ice so quickly after the injury, but remarked that most players in the league play through pain regardless.
“I think 85 percent of players play during the pain, right,” Kuznetsov said. “And it is not easy, but for me, I just have to be sure there will be nothing more after that. We are not in a Game 7 where you have to play through some pain, but you know I’m just going to listen to [the doctors] and whatever they tell me, I am going to follow them.”
With Kuznetsov out, the Capitals will be rolling out the same lineup as they did in Thursday’s 3-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche, with Lars Eller bumping up to the second line and Travis Boyd acting as the third-line center. Washington will be looking to build off the last 40 minutes against the Colorado, when the team finally started to look closer to the identity it has built this season.
“I think structurally we were a lot more sound,” Reirden said. “Whether we were coming into our defensive zone a little bit lower and a little more collapsed around the net than we had been in awhile, something we focused on the last few days in practice and continued to when you have the puck and you have to execute with a purpose and a lot less turnovers as the game went on.”
Capitals expected lines vs Coyotes:— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) February 15, 2020
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