If Monday’s practice is any indication Marcus Johansson could be just days away from returning to the Capitals’ lineup.
Sidelined since Feb. 7 with an undisclosed injury, Johansson took turns on a third line with Jay Beagle and Joel Ward.
Johansson has been progressing well over the past five days and on Monday he was flying up and down the ice, alternating with Jason Chimera.
“He looked a lot better today,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “He looked like he had jump. He needs some skates at full speed and contact. But we’ll talk about how ready he feels.”
If Johansson passes a strength test on Monday, he could be in the lineup as soon as Thursday night against the Florida Panthers.
Meanwhile, defenseman Mike Green stayed off the ice for the fifth straight day as he lets his groin strain heal. Asked if the plan is to shut down Green for a while, Oates said, “I hope not. I wouldn’t say it was a setback. He just needs to feel comfortable and we’re waiting for that moment where it’s OK to go again.”
The Capitals’ forward line combinations had Mike Ribeiro between Alex Ovechkin and Matt Hendricks; Nicklas Backstrom between Eric Fehr and Troy Brouwer; and Mathieu Perreault between Joey Crabb and Aaron Volpatti, with Wojtek Wolski taking turns as an alternate.
With Green still out, the Caps’ defense pairings remain unchanged: Karl Alzner with Tomas Kundratek; John Erskine with John Carlson; Jeff Schultz with Tom Poti; and Roman Hamrlik with Jack Hillen.
Dangerous moment: Midway through practice goaltender Braden Holtby took a hard shot from Crabb off his left collar bone, but shook it off and continued without incident.
“It got away from me,” Crabb said. “It happens sometimes but he looks fine.”
The Caps return to action Tuesday night when Zdeno Chara and the Boston Bruins make their first visit to VerizonCenter since the first round of last year’s playoffs.
Prospect watch: Nearly three months after helping the United States win gold at the 2013 World Junior Championships Capitals forward prospect Riley Barber has followed up by leading the Miami University RedHawks to the CCHA regular-season title.
The Caps’ sixth-round selection [167th overall] in the 2012 draft, Barber led the RedHawks with 36 points [15 goals, 21 assists) in 34 games during as a freshman. He led all NCAA freshmen in points during the regular season.
Miami earned a first-round bye in the CCHA playoffs, which begin March 8, and will begin their tournament in the second round on March 15.
Meanwhile, Filip Forsberg was awarded the Golden Cage award as the best junior player in the Swedish league HockeyAllsvenskan. Forsberg finished the season ranked seventh on Leksand in points (32), despite playing in only 37 of the team’s 51 games. Forsberg collected 14 goals and 18 assists and finished second among all U-20 aged players in the league. Leksand finished with 106 points, the highest total in the league.
A first-round selection (11th overall) in 2012, Forsberg captained the Swedish juniors to a silver medal in the 2013 World Junior Championship and was named to the tournament’s all-star team.