Erskine to dust off rust against Flyers

Erskine to dust off rust against Flyers
December 14, 2013, 2:00 pm
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(Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

When he was spending weeks trying to strengthen the muscle around his reconstructed left knee Capitals defenseman John Erskine did not have Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers circled on his calendar.

The fact the surly 33-year-old veteran is expected to return against the team that started a line brawl against the Caps on Nov. 1 in Philadelphia, well, that’s just good fortune.

“That’s the plan right now,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said when asked if Erskine would play.

To make room for Erskine, Oates acknowledged the Caps could put center Brooks Laich on long-term injury reserve, retroactive to Nov. 28. As for lineup changes, Erskine likely would return on the third defense pairing, alongside Steve Oleksy or Nate Schmidt.

“I’m ready to go,” Erskine said. “It’s up to the coaches and trainers to put me in but I’m ready to play.”

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Erskine was shut down on Oct. 27 because he was experiencing too much pain and had become an ineffective skater. He spent the next seven weeks strengthening the muscle around his left knee and said he’s reached a point where he feels strong enough to play.

“A lot of it is timing and getting back into the swing of things,” he said. “You can bag skate out there all you want, but the minute you get in a game it’s totally different.”

Erskine said he’s not sure what to expect on Sunday against the Flyers, who combined with the Caps for five fights and 164 minutes in penalties on Nov. 1.

“I think it’s just another game,” Erskine said. “We’ve got to put what happened in that game behind us and just try to get the two points.”