It appears Capitals defenseman Mike Green will have an additional three weeks to recover from the concussion he suffered in Columbus Thursday night.
One day after leaving practice early Green did not participate in Tuesday’s morning skate at Kettler Capitals Iceplex and will not play tonight against the New York Islanders [7:30 p.m., NBCSN].
Oates said Green “didn’t feel great” Monday afternoon and it appears he’ll miss the Caps’ remaining three games before the two-week Olympic break begins on Sunday. The Caps host the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday and the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.
“It looks that way,” Oates said. “I can’t guarantee it, but it looks that way.”
Green suffered a concussion when his head was checked into the glass by Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner. Green said he felt better than expected when he practiced Saturday, but sat out Sunday’s game against the Red Wings and left the ice after 10 minutes on Monday.
Green missed the final 20 games of the 2010-11 regular season with a concussion and Oates said it’s important that doesn’t happen again.
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With Green sidelined for the third straight game the Capitals will try a new second defense pairing, moving rookie Connor Carrick up with Dmitry Orlov.
“It can change back two minutes into the game,” Oates said. “Maybe the puck handling with each other will allow us to move a little more free up the ice, especially against a couple of their matchups.”
That will leave John Erskine and Tyson Strachan as the Caps’ third pairing.
The Caps will have Brooks Laich back in the lineup after the 30-year-old forward missed Sunday’s game with groin pain. But instead of centering a second line, Laich will take Aaron Volpatti’s spot as a fourth-line left wing with center Casey Wellman and right wing Tom Wilson. Center Jay Beagle will remain on a second line with wingers Marcus Johansson and Troy Bouwer.
“We talked about it this morning,” Oates said. “[Laich] doesn’t want to be [on the fourth line] because he feels really good. As the game goes along if he looks fine he’ll get more minutes, but until then the regular guys have got to do their deal.”
Volpatti will sit out tonight’s game with an apparent left shoulder injury. Oates said he went for an MRI on Tuesday and it appears likely he’ll miss the Caps’ next three games as well.
Eric Fehr will return to the lineup after missing Monday’s practice with a lower body injury after blocking a shot against the Red Wings. He’ll center a line with Jason Chimer and Joel Ward.
As for center Mikhail Grabovski, he’s likely to remain sidelined with a left ankle injury that has forced him to miss the last six games.
Michal Neuvirth will make his third straight start in goal for the Capitals and will face Evgeni Nabokov, who is 12-2-3 with a 2.32 GAA and .919 save percentage against the Capitals.
Here are the projected lineups for both teams:
Marty Erat – Nicklas Backstrom – Alex Ovechkin
Marcus Johansson - Jay Beagle – Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera – Eric Fehr – Joel Ward
Brooks Laich – Casey Wellman – Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner – John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov – Connor Carrick
John Erskine – Tyson Strachan
Michal Neuvirth [starter] - Braden Holtby
Thomas Vanek – John Tavares – Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner – Frans Nielsen – Cal Clutterbuck
Josh Bailey – Brock Nelson – Colin McDonald
Eric Boulton – Casey Cizikas – Peter Regin
Brian Strait – Andrew MacDonald
Thomas Hickey – Lubomir Visnovsky
Matt Donovan – Calvin de Haan
Evgeni Nabokov [starter] - Kevin Poulin