D.J. King makes his return to the Caps’ lineup tonight. We last saw Washington’s enforcer on Dec. 6 against Toronto. But a painful bone bruise in his foot kept him out of the lineup. And once the injury finally healed there was no reason to take him off injured reserve until there was a lineup spot available. Injuries to several forwards, including Eric Fehr and Alex Semin, made that more likely. King, acquired in a summer trade with the St. Louis Blues, has played just eight games this season. He has missed 17 games in a row, all but two of those spent on injured reserve.     

“Well, it is frustrating. But it is part of the job and I understand it,” Kind said. “There’s nothing I can really do about it. The more I think about it mentally it doesn’t help. So I just come to the rink with a positive attitude every day and work hard….I’m not going to lie – it is frustrating. But there’s nothing I can really do about it.”

King had one of his best games in St. Louis on Dec. 1 just a few days before he disappeared from the lineup for over a month. He had an assist against his former team and earned the hard hat from his teammates. King has been skating hard at practice for a few weeks now. But all the bag skates in the world won’t prepare you for jumping into an NHL game on the road against Philadelphia. King knows that and has a pretty good idea what’s expected of him.

“Just get out there and tell yourself to keep the legs moving. That’s the big thing, just want to keep the legs moving, get on the forecheck,” King said. “The big difference will be a few body checks. As much as you skate and do all the conditioning drills in practice it’s nothing like a game with the body checks so just getting those few hits in and short shifts, for sure, will be the way to start off.”

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