Backs, knees and midsections: Caps players share details on late-season injuries

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'I didn't feel great': Caps players detail injuries originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

As the Bruins made short work of the Capitals in the first round, it became rather apparent that the Capitals were not at full strength in that they were playing through injuries. During Tuesday’s exit interviews, many of them confirmed as much. 

The shortened 56-game season in a compact few months took its toll on the league’s oldest roster, as they struggled to remain healthy as the season wound down.

Still, the Capitals tried their best to not make excuses for any injury-related reasons for their loss and said that, if they were on the ice, that’s not a reason to cast blame.

T.J. Oshie, John Carlson, Alex Ovechkin and Lars Eller were a few players that confirmed injuries to the media. Evgeny Kuznetsov didn't want to comment on any injuries.

Oshie said he was fighting through an injury in the midsection area that he suffered with two games left in the season.

“It was just kind of a weird thing,” Oshie said. “I kind of got opened up a little bit in the corner at two games left and just had a little tweak in the midsection area. For hockey players, that's a tough place to have an injury. I was out there, trainers did a good job to get me on the ice and I felt like I was feeling good enough to get the job done, but I wasn't able to do it.”

Oshie won't need surgery, but the same cannot definitively be said for Carlson, who said he hurt his knee late in the season. He is unsure if surgery is required just yet.

Carlson took a shot off the leg, but didn’t think much of anything about it as it happened.

“Yeah, it was weird,” Carlson said. “It wasn't even that hard. It was just how I kind of turned. It was more of a whacky, you know, at first because it wasn't that hard, I didn't think anything was wrong. It just, it sucks.”

Ovechkin said he had a back problem, but didn’t need shots or medicine to hit the ice as the injury didn’t bother him enough to keep him out of games.

But late in the regular season, he missed time — a rarity for Ovechkin — with what he said was a leg injury. As a result of the year and his injuries, he won’t play for Team Russia at the World Championships.

"Yeah, I was talking to people from national team and I tell them if they need me, I will go,” Ovechkin said. “But obviously it was hard year for my body — lots of mini-injuries and obviously it was a big injury before playoffs. It is what it is, right? Kind of hard situation. Obviously I want to go, I want to play, but if I'm not 100 percent I'm pretty sure better for they will take guys who's 100 percent and play over there."

Eller had a shoulder injury that he suffered early in the season, but he said once that healed, he didn’t have much of an issue with that the rest of the year. Late in the year, he had some groin injuries that flared up, one in the regular season and one in the playoffs.

“I had the other groin a couple weeks after that and then the other leg in the playoffs,” Eller said. “Nothing that is going to (affect) I think next season or affect my offseason. Nothing that requires surgeries.”

There are a few injuries still unknown, like goaltender Vitek Vanecek who left Game 1 of the series, and whatever players didn't speak at breakdown day.

Now, the Capitals will get a chance to rest and heal up before the league embarks on an 82-game season and a return to normalcy in the fall.

“I didn’t feel great in Game 4, I felt better in Game 5, but I wasn’t really able to play at the level, be 100 percent,” Eller said. “That’s no secret. It’s unfortunate timing for that. I felt great in Game 1 and 2 until I got hurt. I think it would’ve been better as the series went on, but we didn’t make it that far.”