Sudden thoughts and second thoughts as the Capitals enjoy a complete day off following a weekend split against the Bruins [4-1 loss] and Sabres [5-3 win]:

Banged up blue line: For the third time in six games the Caps had to play the majority of Sunday night’s game with just five healthy defensemen.

Defenseman Tom Poti left the game early in the second period after aggravating a back injury on a cross-check from Steve Ott.

The same thing happened on Long Island the previous weekend when John Erskine left the game in the first period with what it is believed to be a hand or wrist injury. And it happened again in Carolina on Thursday night when Tomas Kundratek injured his leg in the first period. Neither player has played since.

With Poti out, John Carlson logged a game-high 30:15 in ice time, his second-highest total of the season. Jack Hillen, playing in the second end of back-to-back games after missing nearly a year of NHL action, logged 23:03 in ice time.

“When you’re down to five D for an extended period of time those minutes are going to catch up to us,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said.

Erskine and Kundratek have not skated with the Caps since their injuries so it appears unlikely either will return to the lineup on Tuesday when the Caps visit the Penguins.