Brouillette returns to Caps as injury insurance

Brouillette returns to Caps as injury insurance
February 26, 2014, 6:00 pm
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Backstrom adjusts after Olympic disappointment

Washington Capitals defenseman Julien Brouillette (59) smiles as he skates off the ice after scoring his first career goal.

(Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)

With Jack Hillen’s return to game action still in question, the Capitals have recalled left-handed defenseman Julien Bouillette from the Hershey Bears and had him join them on their flight to Florida for Thursday night’s game against the Panthers.

Brouillette, 27, made quite a first impression with the Capitals, recording his first NHL assist and first NHL goal in back-to-back wins over Winnipeg and New Jersey prior to the Olympic break.

In 36 games for the Bears this season Brouillette has nine goals, eight assists and 16 penalty minutes.

Earlier on Wednesday, Hillen said he does not feel explosive enough to return from the broken leg he suffered in the Capitals’ second game of the season on Oct. 3.

Brouillette’s recall may not be good news for John Erskine, another left-handed defenseman who has been in and out of the lineup this season because of knee pain following offseason surgery.

[RELATED: What should Caps do with Grabovski, Erat?]

Erskine sat out the Caps’ two games before the Olympic break, but he said it was not because of knee pain.

“My knee wasn’t bugging me that bad,” he said. “It was a good break for me mentally and physically but I’m rested and ready to play.”

If Brouillette is inserted into the Caps’ lineup against the Panthers, look for their defense pairings to look like this:

Karl Alzner – John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov – Mike Green

Julien Brouillette – Connor Carrick

“We’ve won three out of four, we’ve played good hockey,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “We’ve kept our goals against down and [Braden Holtby] has two shutouts. I can’t see tweaking it right now.”

Oates said he was “still deciding” on his starting goaltender against the Florida Panthers, adding that he will “probably” split Holtby and Michal Neuvirth when the Caps play the Bruins in Boston and the Flyers in Washington in back-to-back afternoon games Saturday and Sunday.

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