Troy Brouwer was one of 11 participants in an optional skate Wednesday morning and the Capitals forward expects to return to the lineup Thursday against the Florida Panthers.
“I feel good,” said Brouwer, who missed Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime win against the Boston Bruins with illness.
“The fact that was I was able to come to the rink today [is good]. Yesterday I wasn’t really able to get out of bed very much. [It was] just real uncomfortable as anybody who has the flu knows.”
Prior to Tuesday’s absence, Brouwer had played 102 consecutive games since joining the Capitals in 2011. Washington’s leading goal-scorer with nine tallies in 20 games this season admits that watching Tuesday’s game from his Arlington apartment wasn’t easy.
“Yeah, at least normally you can be around the guys at the rink and be a part of the whole ordeal but yesterday sitting on the couch with a blanket wrapped around me- it’s not a lot of fun sitting there, helpless.
“But I watched the game, I stayed up for it, the guys did great in coming back and hopefully it’s one of those wins that can help turn the season around.”
With Brouwer sidelined Tuesday, Wojtek Wolski returned to Adam Oates’ lineup after sitting as a healthy scratch in Saturday’s 3-0 win against the Winnipeg Jets.
Wolski responded with the game-tying goal in the third period to snap a personal 11-game scoreless drought. As Oates explained though, he’s looking for better all-around play from Wolski, not just more goals.
“So much of the game today is being able to get the puck out over your own blue line, chip it in, put it in the right spot in their end so we can forecheck and get territory and wear them out. That's kind of what the system is designed for, it's almost what every team does, and we need execution there.
“I thought that for a few games maybe thinking about goal scoring was affecting his execution. So I sat him down… and I need that execution. That's more important than putting the puck in the net.”
As Brouwer looks forward to returning to the lineup Thursday against Florida, Marcus Johansson appears closer to a return as well.
Johansson has been sidelined with an upper-body injury and has not played since Feb.7, but the 22-year-old was cleared for contact Wednesday after passing a neuropsych test.
“It feels good to have [the test] over, but we’ll take it from here and see what happens and hopefully I can play soon,” Johansson said.”
“I’m excited to play hockey for real again and be in games and practice 100 percent and just get going again.”
Despite Johansson passing the neuropsych test, there is still no time frame for his return.
“We're still figuring out what happens now,” Oates said. “It's such a weird thing in the league. I don't have too much more information on that. But obviously [the test result is] good for him.”
Braden Holtby did not take part in Wednesday’s optional skate, but Oates confirmed that Holtby will make his 11th straight start Thursday against Florida.
Holtby and the Capitals have won seven of their last ten games overall but remain eight points behind the Southeast Division leading Carolina Hurricanes with a game in hand.