Green, Grabovski cleared for Caps' stretch run

Green, Grabovski cleared for Caps' stretch run
February 19, 2014, 7:45 pm
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When the Capitals broke for their 10-day Olympic break, they were without defensemen Mike Green [concussion] and John Erskine [knee], center Mikail Grabovski [ankle] and left wing Aaron Volpatti [left shoulder].

All four players practiced with the team on Wednesday, although Volpatti joined the session about 30 minutes in progress.

Volpatti said he’s not quite 100 percent, but Capitals coach Adam Oates said Green, Erskine and Grabovski are all cleared to play and will be available when the Caps return to action Thursday, Feb. 27 against the Florida Panthers.

“All the guys needed the rest, but for the guys that were banged up this gave them a chance to heal and maybe do some weight work and get stronger,” Oates said.

[MORE: Oates on Ovechkin: 'You can't criticize one guy']

Green’s concussion was perhaps the most concerning to the Capitals. He sat out the five games before the Olympic break but told reporters on Wednesday he’s feeling fine.

Defenseman Jack Hillen, who broke his leg in the second game of the season, also practiced on Wednesday, but he is walking with a pronounced limp and he has not yet been cleared for full contact.

The Caps are expected to practice through Sunday, then take Monday off before resuming workouts on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“It’s going to be a tough week of practice, going through the motions a little bit,” Oates said. “We want to structure it so that the last couple days they’ll be a little more excited to play again, so we can jump on all cylinders.”

The Caps will need all the healthy bodies they can get. They rank 11th in the Eastern Conference standings but are just one point behind the eighth-place Detroit Red Wings for the final playoff spot.

Their schedule in March includes three games against the Boston Bruins and two each against the Penguins and Flyers.

[MORE: Caps back at practice after Olympic break (VIDEO)]

How the Olympians fared: Nicklas Backstrom had an assist, three shots on goal and a plus-2 rating in 17:12 of ice-time in Sweden's 5-0 win over Slovenia, while teammate Marcus Johansson logged 15:29 of ice time. … John Carlson skated for 9:13 for USA in its 5-2 win over the Czechs, while Marty Erat logged 14:31 of ice time against the Americans.  Erat is expected to make it home in time for the birth of his daughter. His wife, Vera, is due on Tuesday.