Canes’ Svechnikov skating again but return is uncertain
Carolina Hurricanes rookie forward Andrei Svechnikov was on the ice skating Thursday at PNC Arena, but his availability in the playoff series against the Washington Capitals remains uncertain.
Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour ruled Svechnikov out of Game 4 on Thursday, but did not make a definitive statement on Game 5 on Saturday in Washington.
Svechnikov, 19, was on the wrong end of a fight with Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals in Game 3 on Monday as the Canes won 5-0. Ovechkin landed the big blows and Svechnikov was helped off the ice, made a trip to the hospital and is currently in the NHL concussion protocol.
Svechnikov was not at practice Wednesday at PNC Arena. The Canes, trailing 2-1 in the series, did not hold a morning skate Thursday before Game 4, but Svechnikov was on the ice, wearing a full cage on his helmet, stick handling and taking shots.
“That’s a good sign,” Brind’Amour said.
Asked if Svechnikov was lobbying to quickly get back in the lineup, Brind’Amour said, “No. When he gets (medically) cleared, then we’ll talk. He has not been (cleared).
“Obviously you take precautions. We’re just following along with the protocol. He’s been surprisingly doing well.”
Brind’Amour was not sure Thursday if defenseman Calvin de Haan would play in Game 4. De Haan has been sidelined with an upper-body injury that kept him out of the first three playoff games but now has been medically cleared and has practiced. Brind’Amour it would be de Haan’s call on playing.
“I would hope at some point he feels good enough that he can get in there,” Brind’Amour said. “When that is, I don’t know.”
Svechnikov seemed in good spirits Thursday as he took the ice for his workout.
Svechnikov, taken with the No. 2 overall pick of the 2018 NHL Draft, scored 20 goals in his rookie season and quickly became a fan favorite. He then scored twice in the Canes’ first playoff game in 10 years, a 4-2 loss in Game 1 in Washington.
Svechnikov and Ovechkin had exchanged a few bumps and pushes and slashes in the first two games, and it quickly escalated in Game 3 as they dropped the gloves with 9:01 left in the first period and traded blows. Ovechkin, at 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, is an inch taller and 40 pounds heavier than Svechnikov but Svechnikov did not back down as the two Russians had at it.
Before the game, Svechnikov said he admired Ovechkin growing up in Russia and had fun competing against him, both in the regular season and playoffs. Told he had taken a few hits from Ovechkin in the first two games, he said, “I give it back to him.”
Svechnikov started Game 3 on Jordan Staal’s line with Justin Williams. The Canes lost forward Micheal Ferland to an upper-body injury before the Svechnikov-Ovechkin fight, leaving Brind’Amour with 10 forwards.
Forward Warren Foegele began the game on the fourth line but got 14:37 of ice time and scored the first two goals of the game.