News and notes as the Capitals hit the ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Thursday in preparation for a season-defining four-game road trip that begins Friday night in Newark against the Devils:
Still no Hillen, Wey: Defensemen Jack Hillen and Patrick Wey did not participate in Thursday’s practice, each sidelined with upper body injuries. Hillen has not skated since colliding with Alex Ovechkin on March 25. Wey has not skated since his fight with Nashville’s Rich Clune on Sunday.
Brouwer returns: Right wing Troy Brouwer returned to practice after missing Wednesday’s session with a maintenance day. Brouwer practiced on a second line with left wing Marcus Johansson and center Jay Beagle.
New defense pairing: Rookie Connor Carrick, a healthy scratch the past seven games and a minus-12 in 30 games this season, took regular shifts with John Erskine on the Caps’ third defense pairing, an indication the pair will be together Friday night against the Devils. Julien Brouillette took turns on the third pair.
Who to root for: Now that the Caps have fallen five points behind the Detroit Red Wings, they are now pinning their playoff hopes on the Columbus Blue Jackets stumbling down the stretch. The Caps trail the Jackets by two points. Columbus will play its game in hand tonight in Philadelphia. If the Caps hope to reach 92 points, they’ll need to go no worse than 5-0-1 in their final six games.