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Caps' Burakovsky takes next step in his recovery Sunday

Caps' Burakovsky takes next step in his recovery Sunday

Andre Burakovsky took another next step in his recovery from a broken right hand Sunday when he joined members of Washington's training and equipment staff for a small ice scrimmage at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

Burakovsky did not go all out, but for nearly an hour he skated hard, handled the puck and made crisp passes. He also took several shots, though he appeared reluctant or unable to fire the puck as hard as he normally does.

Although the session was non-contact in nature, Burakovsky went hard enough that he made some incidental contact. He even went down a few times.

As he came off the ice afterward, he said his hand felt good and added that he hopes to join his teammates for practice in the coming week. He also acknowledged that the decision will ultimately be made by the team’s medical staff.

The third line winger has missed the Caps’ last 12 games.

The original prognosis was for Burakovsky to be sidelined until mid or to late March. The 22-year-old did not need surgery and had the cast removed on March 2.

Coach Barry Trotz said recently that he remains on schedule.

Burakovsky has been skating with strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish for several weeks. He has yet, however, to practice with his teammates. His next opportunity to join the group will be Tuesday when the Caps hit the ice in Arlington for a morning skate ahead of hosting Bruce Boudreau and the Wild at Verizon Center.

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Karl Alzner on the mend, status for second round remains unclear

Karl Alzner on the mend, status for second round remains unclear

Karl Alzner on Tuesday handled his heaviest practice workload since getting hurt, but it remains unclear when the Caps’ defenseman will return to the lineup.

Alzner has been sidelined with an upper body injury since Game 2 against Toronto.

“He’s progressing [and is] day-to-day,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “When the trainers say, 'Go', then he’ll go.”

Alzner took part in contact drills, including penalty kill, signaling the next step in his recovery.

Asked if he anticipates Alzner stepping back into the lineup when he’s healthy, Trotz said: “Possibly. We’re not there yet so I’m gonna be vague to you.”

RELATED: Trotz reveals why Ovechkin missed the second half of practice

Alzner said he felt good after the hour-long practice. Asked if he expects to play right away, he said: “I think so, yeah. I didn’t really think about that...I hope so.”

Alzner, who has appeared in 540 consecutive regular season games, acknowledged that it’s been frustrating to be sidelined given what’s at stake.

“Yeah, not fun,” he said. “It’s very, very frustrating, especially at this point of the year. You can handle it a little more in the regular season, but to watch the guys go to battle and to have the feeling of beating a team, it’s unfortunate to miss that. At the same time, I know that in the long run, it’s the best thing for the team [and] clearly was the right choice.”

Alzner has been replaced in the lineup by Nate Schmidt, who has played well the past four games. In addition to being reliable in his own end, he’s registered a pair of assists. He’s also a team-best +5.  

If and when Alzner is healthy, it’s going to force Trotz and Co. to make a difficult decision. Do you take out Schmidt? Someone else? Or go with seven defensemen?

“He’s done that,” Trotz said about Schmidt putting the coaches in a tough spot. “He’s come in and he’s done a really good job. He’s such a good skater. We played a quick team and he fit in just perfectly with us. I thought he was making a statement, ‘Hey I'm gonna make it tough to take me out of the lineup.”

Check out the latest edition of the Capitals Faceoff Podcast and subscribe on Apple podcastsAudioboom and Google Play!

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Barry Trotz reveals why Alex Ovechkin missed the second half of practice

Barry Trotz reveals why Alex Ovechkin missed the second half of practice

Alex Ovechkin missed the second half of Tuesday’s practice — the Capitals’ first session in preparation for the Penguins — because of an equipment issue.

Prior to exiting the ice, the Caps’ captain came to the bench at Kettler Capitals Iceplex and examined his skate.

“His skate broke,” Coach Barry Trotz said before cracking, “I said, ‘You didn’t have another pair? He goes, ‘I couldn’t find them.’”

RELATED: CAPITALS vs. PENGUINS PREVIEW: FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH

In all seriousness, though, it’s not clear why Ovechkin did not get his skate repaired, as is usual when a blade or holder cracks. 

“I don’t know what happened,” Trotz said. “It was a skate. He came over and there was something hanging off his skate there. I think when he went in the corner, [it] got sliced. He’s fine, as you see. You saw him walking around. He’s fine.”

Added Ovechkin, who appeared to be practicing at full speed during the first 20 or so minutes of practice and looked while walking around afterward: “Yeah, my skate is broke, almost in half. It’s okay.”

Ovechkin scored three goals in the first round as the Caps vanquished the Maple Leafs, 4 games to 2. The right wing ranks ninth on the team average ice time on the team at 19:43.

In addition to Ovechkin’s situation, Lars Eller did not practice. Trotz said the third line center, who has two assists so far in the postseason, took a “maintenance day.” 

Trotz said he expects Eller to practice on Wednesday.

RELATED: STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF POWER RANKINGS

Check out the latest edition of the Capitals Faceoff Podcast and subscribe on Apple podcastsAudioboom and Google Play!