Kempny pro­gress­ing, re­turns to prac­tice

Five-day break gives de­fense­man added time to re­cover from in­jury

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NEWS - By Ro­man Stubbs

AR­LING­TON, VA. — Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals de­fense­man Michal Kempny re­turned to prac­tice Sat­ur­day morn­ing, skat­ing with his team­mates for the first time since suf­fer­ing what was pre­sumed to be a con­cus­sion dur­ing a pre­sea­son game in St. Louis.

While Kempny was the only Cap­i­tals player to wear a light blue non­con­tact uni­form dur­ing the work­out, his pres­ence on the ice rep­re­sented progress af­ter nearly two weeks on the shelf. Cap­i­tals coach Todd Reirden said his goal is to have the 28-year-old Czech back for TV: Ra­dio: Wed­nes­day night’s home con­test against Ve­gas.

“He is pro­gress­ing. To have him back out there, he was in a non­con­tact jersey, but I thought he was skat­ing re­ally well . . . just get­ting closer to play­ing,” Reirden said. “We’ll con­tinue to eval­u­ate ev­ery day and we’ll see how he is later to­day and to­mor­row and see where to­mor­row’s prac­tice goes from there.”

Af­ter open­ing with back-to-back games against Bos­ton and Pitts­burgh ear­lier this week, the Cap­i­tals are in the mid­dle of a five-day break, a rar­ity this early in the sea­son but also an op­por­tu­nity to catch up with off-ice con­di­tion­ing. The team held a heavy off-ice work­out Sat­ur­day, “With the idea of strength build­ing, not just main­tain­ing strength,” Reirden said, fol­lowed by an hour-plus prac­tice fo­cused on mo­tion and speed. To­day will be a lighter off-ice work­out with a more phys­i­cal prac­tice, Reirden added, lead­ing up to a day off on Mon­day.

How lim­ited Kempny is re­mains un­clear, but the lay­off will at least al­low him to con­tinue to ease back into his nor­mal work rate. He was one of six de­fense­man to prac­tice on Sat­ur­day - de­fense­man Brooks Or­pik took a main­te­nance day and didn’t skate - and Reirden was im­me­di­ately en­cour­aged by how Kempny looked, im­prov­ing the prospects of a re­turn on Wed­nes­day.

“I hope so,” Reirden said. “That would be the plan and I’m hop­ing we get to that spot.”

JAY LAPRETE/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Cap­i­tals de­fense­man Michal Kempny suf­fered what ap­peared to be a con­cus­sion in Wash­ing­ton’s pre­sea­son fi­nale.

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