WASHINGTON — The Washington Capitals are preparing to start the playoffs without defenseman Michal Kempny, who appeared to injure his left leg in Wednesday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The team hasn’t divulged many details about Kempny’s injury, but coach Todd Reirden said Monday that he’ll be out “long term.” Reirden said it hasn’t been determined yet if Kempny will need surgery.
“He’s got a few more appointments to go through, but it’s going to be a long-term injury,” Reirden said. “We’ll have more updates in the next few days here.”
Asked if Kempny could be out for the playoffs, Reirden said, “That’s what we’re still working on, so when we do make an announcement, it’ll have a clear timetable for recovery. But it’s long term.”
As Kempny wrestled Tampa Bay forward Cedric Paquette by the Capitals’ bench late in the second period Wednesday night, his leg got awkwardly caught under him as he fell to the ice. Washington acquired Kempny before the trade deadline last year, and adding his mobility to the blue line helped the team solidify its defensive play en route to a Stanley Cup championship. Kempny skated more than 19 minutes per game this season, tallying a career-high six goals with 19 assists.
With Kempny out the past two games, the Capitals have experimented with how to replace him on the left side of the top defense pairing with John Carlson. Second-year blueliner Christian Djoos, who’s played in 39 games this season, has gotten the most time there, but against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday, Reirden tried several different combinations, including having Carlson on the left side with Nick Jensen on the right.
“[Jensen’s] a guy who you could expect to see getting some more ice time here without Kempny being in and some different situations as he grows, different opportunities,” Reirden said Sunday. “You might see him occasionally with different partners in the next [six] games here as we try to find the right combo that works for us.”