Reirden 'hopeful' Kuznetsov will play on this road trip

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By 106.7 The Fan

Capitals coach Todd Reirden has remained tight-lipped about the injury to Evgeny Kuznetsov, but allowed on Thursday that "normally we wouldn't bring the player on the trip" if they didn't intend to play him.

The Caps begin a three-game road trip Thursday night that will take them on a tour through Colorado, Arizona, and then finally Vegas, over the next five days. Kuznetsov, who was injured during the second period of Monday's loss to the Islanders, made the trip with the rest of the team.

Kuznetsov sustained an upper-body injury when he was smashed into the boards by Isles winger Leo Komarov. He left the game and did not return, and is now described as "day-to-day."

The hit that injured Evgeny Kuznetsov pic.twitter.com/anSlsxSV3y

— Ian Oland (@ianoland) February 11, 2020

Reirden was asked about Kuzy's injury during his bi-weekly appearance with The Sports Junkies Thursday morning, presented by Sheehy Auto Stores.

"So you just mentioned Kuzy there. He's making the trip but he's out tonight," Junkies host John Auville said. "I know you and the rest of the NHL, you're very guarded about injury status of players. But it's encouraging that he's making the trip. Maybe he'll be able to make one of the later games, maybe against Arizona or Vegas."

"Yeah. If it wasn't a situation like that, then normally we wouldn't bring the player on the trip," Reirden said. "We're hoping, and hopeful, that that is the situation. That being said, we're not putting the player in until he's 100 percent at this time. So we want to make sure he's back and healthy and ready to go for a really good last 25-game, 28-game push here as we get closer to the end of the season."

Later Thursday, Kuznetsov took the ice after the team's morning skate, surely a positive sign for a quick return.

Kuznetsov (upper body) is on the ice after the morning skate working with the assistants. Good sign, I’d say. #Caps pic.twitter.com/j9dqOZjvK3

— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) February 13, 2020

The Capitals have dropped three of their last four games, suffering defeats to the Penguins, Flyers and Islanders, but face a great opportunity to right the ship on this road trip. Washington, whose lead over Pittsburgh has diminished to three points in the Metro Division, is abnormally better on the road than at home this season. With a 20-6-1 overall road record, the Caps are 12-2-1 in multi-game road trips this season.

"You know, it's been kind of an interesting transformation of our team over the last six years, too, that sometimes makes a little bit of getting on the road a good chance to get back and reset, and get into your routine," Reirden said. "Through the first three quarters of the season, our team, I don't think there's probably any other team that does more stuff in the community than we do when we're at home."

"Every day, it seems like, our guys are doing something and just the amazing impact they make on the community, and they're so committed to that," he said. "Whether it's through individual things or it's through team things. And then now we have so many guys that have young families. So now learning how to deal with being new dads and dealing with kids that are growing up, and wanting to be great dads and husbands at the same time."

"So this gives you a chance to, for the most part, have our minds set on hockey tonight," he said. "Again, I don't expect us to be perfect tonight and it's gonna be a little bit of work for us to get through this spot of adversity, and playing without Kuznetsov tonight and some different things. But hopefully we can see some signs in the right direction and start to overcome some of this adversity, which I think is a great learning tool."

Reirden begins at the 24:35 mark below.