The Capitals received some encouraging injury news on Friday when defenseman Mike Green skated on his own before practice and coach Adam Oates hinted that forward Marcus Johansson could play this weekend.
Green, who had not skated since aggravating a groin injury in Philadelphia on Feb. 27 in the second end of a back-to-back, has missed six games this season with groin issues.
“It’s a good sign for us,” Oates said. “He was moving pretty good.”
Oates said he had two abdominal tears in his career and missed seven weeks with both of them, so there’s no rush to get Green back in the lineup, especially since he’s missed 86 games over the past two-plus seasons.
“You’re wondering what’s going on,” he said. “You have doubts. You go out and try it and it’s no, no, no, and all of a sudden one day it’s yep, and you’re playing.”
Oates said it’s almost impossible for a player to know if his groin muscles are fully healed until they get into game action.
“You can replicate it as much as you want,” he said, “but until you actually get into the game and the heat of the moment and take an unguarded hit, you don’t know.”
Meanwhile, Johansson, who passed a neuropsych test on Tuesday, took turns skating on a third line with Mathieu Perreault and Joel Ward. Jason Chimera also took turns on that line and appeared to be fine after taking a blindside hit from Tyson Strachan Thursday night.
Oates said he asked Johansson if he is conditioned enough to play on Saturday if needed and was told he could.
No hearing for Strachan: An NHL spokesman confirmed there will be no disciplinary hearing for Tyson Strachan’s blindside hit on Chimera midway through the second period of the Caps’ 7-1 win over the Panthers Thursday night.
“I have no say in the matter, Oates said. “I thought it was a little late. I don’t think he left his feet or anything.”
Chimera declined to comment on the hit.
Sleepy hollow: With the Rangers playing on Friday and waiting for the Capitals on Sunday, Oates seemed a little concerned about getting his team up for Saturday afternoon’s visit to Nassau Coliseum against the Islanders.
“We have to be ready. It’s tough because they don’t sell out and it’s a sleepy environment sometimes,” he said.
Resting weary legs: When the Caps carried a 5-0 lead into the third period Thursday night Oates began paring down the ice time of his heavy-minute defensemen. In the third period John Carlson took just two shifts; John Erskine took six shifts; and Karl Alzner took seven.
“That’s probably the best thing about the game,” Oates said. “Big picture, hopefully those minutes matter down the road.”
Ovi campaigns for Ribeiro: Through 22 games, Mike Ribeiro leads the Capitals with 28 points, good for eighth in the NHL. He’s got the Caps’ power play ranked third in the NHL at 26.3 percent.
Ribeiro is also in the final year of a contract that pays him $5 million and has voiced his desire to re-sign with the Caps. He might want to hire linemate Alex Ovechkin as his agent.
“He’s a great guy,” Ovechkin said. “I hope we’re going to sign him for next year and two or three years. You can see the results. He’s right now our best points man on the team.”