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Capitals send Schilling back to Hershey

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Sports,NHL,Capitals,Brian McNally

Final roster is starting to take shape

The Capitals returned defenseman Cam Schilling to American Hockey League affiliate Hershey on Tuesday as the final roster for the season-opening game in Tampa Bay on Saturday takes shape.

Schilling, 24, was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Miami University last spring and spent the NHL lockout with the Bears. His departure leaves Washington with seven defensemen and 15 forwards -- though Brooks Laich (groin) did not participate in Tuesday's scrimmage against ECHL affiliate Reading and missed practices Sunday and Monday.

It likely won't be the last time Schilling plays with the Caps during the 48-game regular season.

"Especially with the shortened season, there might be more injuries because the games are shorter [in between]," Schilling said before being demoted. "You don't know. But I just try to stay away from thinking about that kind of stuff and try and play numbers games because that [takes you off] your game."

Added Washington coach Adam Oates: "I just think numbers. He's a young kid, and he's getting good experience. We gave him a taste to come up here and see the guys. We obviously expect him at some point in his career to be up here, and I thought it was a great chance for him."

The Caps only used six defensemen during Tuesday's scrimmage. Mike Green, who missed two unofficial practices last week before training camp started after laser eye surgery, is now fighting a cold, according to Oates. He also did not participate Tuesday, and Oates added that he wasn't expected to even had he been feeling fine.

Oates had high praise for junior prospect Tom Wilson, a long shot to crack the final roster whose chances may have improved slightly with his scrimmage performance and Laich's lingering injury. With seven defensemen left after Schilling's loan to Hershey, there remains room for 14 forwards. But that decision still looms.

"I think we'd like to as soon as possible, but I think we also have to be realistic," Oates said. "Guys are still not in game shape, and we're still a few days away, so you don't necessarily want to lock into something. Saturday night's game is going to be sloppy -- I expect it to be -- so we kind of want to use everybody and keep everybody in mind."

bmcnally@washingtonexaminer.com

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