Aside from defenseman Jack Hillen’s broken leg, the Capitals have been pretty healthy this season.
Center Eric Fehr [lower body] and left wing Aaron Volpatti [upper body] did not participate in practice on Monday, joining Mikhail Grabovski [left ankle], Brooks Laich [groin] and Mike Green [concussion] on the injured list.
Fehr blocked a shot in the first period of Sunday’s 6-5 overtime victory against the Detroit Red Wings and hobbled to the bench, but Oates said he expects Fehr to play on Tuesday night when the New York Islanders visit Verizon Center.
Volpatti left the ice holding his left arm later in the game after delivering a big hit and is questionable for Tuesday.
Laich participated in Monday’s practice and said he felt better than he thought he would and hopes he’ll be available to play Tuesday night when the Islanders visit Verizon Center.
Green skated for about 10 minutes at practice, wearing a green “no contact” jersey, before heading to the dressing room.
Oates said he wants to be sure Green is completely symptom-free before putting him back into the lineup. That decision will come on Tuesday.
“You don’t want him to play careful and avoid [contact],” Oates said. “He practiced today and felt good again. He left a little early because he didn’t want to set it back.”
Oates said it’s important for Green to be able to protect himself better when he’s on the ice if he want to remain symptom-free.
“I think sometimes he’s his own worst enemy,” Oates said. “I think he’s a targeted man and that’s why he’s got to be a sharp player every night. He can’t relax because he’s got an X on his back. … The warrior in him wants to take the punishment.”
The injuries left the Caps with just 10 healthy forwards for Monday’s practice. On Tuesday, the top two lines consisted of Nicklas Backstrom between Marty Erat and Alex Ovechkin, and Jay Beagle between Marcus Johansson and Troy Brouwer.
Wingers Jason Chimera and Joel Ward skated without a center, while center Casey Wellman and Tom Wilson skated without a left wing.
Grabovski, sidelined since Jan. 24, skated with conditioning coach Mark Nemish before Monday’s practice but did not participate. Oates said he does not expect Grabovski to play in any of the Caps’ three remaining games before the Olympic break.
The Caps have picked up seven points [3-1-1] in their last five games, while the Islanders have lost five straight.