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Caps’ Martin Fehervary is ‘probably week-to-week’ with lower-body injury

Caps’ Martin Fehervary is ‘probably week-to-week’ with lower-body injury

Tooba Shakir 54 years ago 0 0

Less than five minutes into Saturday night’s game in Montreal, Washington Capitals defenseman Martin Fehervary skated slowly across the ice and headed down the tunnel. The quirks of Bell Centre’s layout, with the visiting team’s bench on the other side of the ice from the path to its dressing room, meant Fehervary had to wait for a stoppage in play to gingerly make his exit, aided by winger Anthony Mantha and athletic trainer Jason Serbus.

Before the first period ended, the Capitals had ruled out Fehervary for the rest of the game with a lower-body injury. Afterward, he was seen on crutches. The injury appeared to happen during Fehervary’s second shift, when he lost his edge behind Washington’s net and spun with his left leg caught beneath him as he fell awkwardly to the ice.

In a back-and-forth affair, the Capitals held on to beat the Canadiens, 4-3, despite playing with five defensemen for nearly the entire game. After the win, Coach Spencer Carbery praised his defenders, saying they “stepped up big-time tonight.”

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After practice Monday, Carbery said the team considers Fehervary week-to-week, but he expressed optimism that the defenseman could be back within two weeks.

“Not something where it could be any day,” Carbery said. “It’s probably week-to-week, so whether it’s one, two, that’s what we’re looking at.”

For however long they’re without Fehervary, the Capitals have a hole to fill on the left side of their top defensive pairing. According to Natural Stat Trick, John Carlson and Fehervary have skated 473 minutes together this season in five-on-five play — more than 160 minutes more than the Capitals’ second-most-active pair, Rasmus Sandin and Trevor van Riemsdyk. Sandin and Carlson are the Capitals’ fourth-most-used combination at 270 minutes, so Carbery and assistant coach Mitch Love could reunite them starting with Tuesday night’s matchup against the New Jersey Devils at Capital One Arena.

But while Sandin and Carlson are effective together offensively, part of what makes Fehervary and Carlson work so well is Fehervary’s defensive impact. They’re often deployed against the opponent’s top line, and Fehervary’s skating and instincts allow him to remain well-positioned to defend when Carlson plays with a more freewheeling flair offensively.

“[Losing Fehervary] is obviously a pretty big blow to the back end,” defenseman Nick Jensen said. “He covers a lot of minutes, covers a lot of ice out there with his skating ability. We typically have him going against their top lines. Going to be important, going down the stretch here, especially [Tuesday] against guys can skate with the puck like [Devils forwards Jesper] Bratt and [Jack] Hughes. We need guys that can keep up with them and their speed.”

In Fehervary’s absence Saturday, Jensen was on the ice for 26 minutes 7 seconds; it was the first time he played more than 25 minutes this season. Carlson played a team-high 29:07, van Riemsdyk played 21:53, Joel Edmundson played 21:42, and Sandin played 18:48. Only Sandin’s ice time was below his season average.

“There’s some components of it where everyone’s getting in the mix a little more,” Jensen said. “Everyone’s kind of finding a groove a little bit more. I always find when guys go down, it is hard. If that night your team’s not going, you’re playing a lot in the [defensive] zone, it can be tough. But if the team’s playing well and you’re out there and you’re kind of finding that groove, you can kind of feed off that a little bit.”

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Alex Alexeyev and Ethan Bear were healthy scratches Saturday, and one of them presumably will return to the lineup Tuesday. As a left-handed shooter, Alexeyev could have the edge; adding him to the lineup, with Sandin potentially moving up to play with Carlson, wouldn’t require much shuffling.

But van Riemsdyk’s ability to play on the left, despite it being his off side, means the Capitals could move him over and bring in the right-handed-shooting Bear instead. That option forces more movement, but Carbery and Love have shown a preference for Bear over Alexeyev since Bear signed with the Capitals in December. Bear has played in 16 of the Capitals’ 20 games since he debuted Dec. 30; Alexeyev has made just three appearances in that span.

Washington’s practice Monday was optional, so there were no hints about which way Carbery was leaning.

“It hurts because Marty does a lot for us,” he said. “… But the good news is, [his absence] gives an opportunity for Al [and] Bearsy. We do have some depth there of guys that are champing at the bit to get into the lineup. We’ll rely on that for this foreseeable future.”

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