Hillen feeling 'a lot better' after rehab game

Hillen feeling 'a lot better' after rehab game
March 3, 2014, 10:00 am
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Highlights: Caps lose in OT to Philly, 5-4

Washington Capitals defenseman Jack Hillen (38) prepares to shoot a slap shot against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period at the CONSOL Energy Center.

(Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

Capitals defenseman Jack Hillen took another step toward returning from a broken right leg on Sunday when he made it through the Hershey Bears’ 6-3 loss to the Charlotte Checkers with no signs of a setback.

“I feel a lot better after this game than I did the first game,” said Hillen [video here], referring to Tuesday night’s game against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Penguins in which he logged 20 minutes and recorded five shots.

Against the Checkers on Sunday, Hillen, 28, picked up two assists.

“The first game [on Tuesday] I was limping pretty bad after, and now this one I feel a lot better,” Hillen said. “We’ll see how I feel when I get home. The next morning is the key. If I feel better [Monday] I should be good to go.”

Hillen fractured the tibial plateau, just below his right knee, on Oct. 3 against the Calgary Flames and has missed the Capitals’ last 60 games. Last season he missed 25 games with fractured ribs.

With Monday a day off for the Caps, Tuesday’s practice should determine whether Hillen returns to the Caps’ lineup Wednesday night when the Capitals visit the Flyers [8 p.m., NBCSN].

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If Hillen is ready to play he likely will replace Dmitry Orlov, who faces a disciplinary hearing with the NHL today and faces a possible suspension for his hit from behind on Flyers center Brayden Schenn. Even if Orlov is absolved, the Caps may opt to sit him in favor of Hillen so that they can keep gritty defenseman John Erskine in the lineup.