After an underwhelming and morale-depleting two-game road trip in the state of Florida, the Washington Capitals were back at Kettler Capitals Iceplex today, but the big news of the day (if you can really call it that) was made by players who took no part in the back-to-back defeats to the Lightning and Panthers.
Mike Green skated for the third day in a row and says he’s on or ahead of schedule to return from abdominal surgery. Talking to the assembled media, Green said:
“It’s comforting now that it’s fixed and I can tell right away. It’s just a matter of getting back in shape this healing up and I’ll be ready to go.”
Green, 26, is still in the early stages of his recovery but is “on the right path” and said he’s been able to feel an improvement already.
“Absolutely,” Green said. “About a week to 10 days after, I could feel the muscle actually firing and being able to move a lot better.”
This is very good news for down the road, and it’s nice to hear Green sounding so upbeat vis-a-vis his recovery. It’s particularly noteworthy given his comments before his attempted comeback in late December, when he said of his lingering groin injury: “I think I’m going to have to be cognizant of this for the rest of my career, probably.” If the Caps can get a sense of just how stable Green’s innards are before the season ends — whether in the first week of April or beyond — it will make the team’s approach to the defenseman’s pending restricted free agency all the more clear.
Meanwhile, Dale Hunter offered a non-update update on the status of in-the-wind center Nicklas Backstrom, who hasn’t been seen or heard from since he did five minutes of feather-lite skating nearly two weeks ago: “He’s feeling better, so it’s just procedure where you have to go through, and it just takes time,” Hunter said in what sounded an awful lot like English. It was something of a muddled response, leaving unclear exactly what stage of the “procedure” Backstrom finds himself in, and what exactly it is he has to go through. It’s hard to put too much stock in his “feeling better” too, considering George McPhee said very much the same thing on Jan. 17. At that time, Backstrom was “progressing,” so in just over two weeks, not much has changed. That’s the nature of concussions; nobody really knows for sure just how long a recovery is going to take, and unless and until Backstrom is seen skating — or at this point, even spotted at KCI or Verizon Center — he remains an unknown quantity, and Rene Bourque remains a marked man.
Speaking of which, Joel Rechlicz, he of the $525,000 contract and (hey, will you look at that) 5:25 of ice time, said this about potentially meeting Bourque in Saturday’s matinee in Montreal: “I heard it was a cheap shot. Hopefully I’ll be in the lineup for that game.” On opponents not wanting to indulge him in fisticuffs, Rechlicz told Steve Whyno: “Then I’m just going to go get my checks and if I’ve got to run a guy through the glass and force them to fight, that’s what you’ve got to do. ” It’s tough talk, but let’s be honest: It takes two to dance, and we saw Rechlicz do his best vestigial tail impression in Florida when he tried unsuccessfully to get Krys Barch to engage him. He spent the rest of the game all but stapled to the bench.
RMNB had a delicious assessment of Rechlicz:
It’s only been two games, but there’s no reason for us to think that Joel Rechlicz a) has something positive to contribute to this team, and b) will even have the opportunity to prove us wrong. And his presence diminished the ice time of Cody Eakin and Joel Ward and shortened an already short bench. The signing of a single-function goon while the Caps are already dysfunctional is absurd.
In other roster news, Keith Aucoin has been recalled from Hershey, criss-crossing Cody Eakin, headed back to the AHL, in I-83. The news sparked a flurry of retrospective stories from a previous Aucoin recall, and damn if it doesn’t get a bit misty when reading some of the names from that 2008-09 Caps roster. Oh Sergei…
In other AHL roster news, the Caps swapped minor-leaguers, which as about as much to do with the current lineup’s predicment as the news that the Nationals signed a pitcher today. For the record, according to Mike Vogel: “Caps swing a pair of minor deals: F Matt Ford to Philly for D Kevin Marshall and D Danny Richmond to Colorado for C Mike Carman.”
Right. That about sums it up for today. More later.