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Posted at 11:09 AM ET, 04/18/2012

Capitals adjust lines in preparation for Backstrom’s absence

Practice is underway Wednesday and the Capitals are showing how they’ll try to make up for the absence of Nicklas Backstrom in Game 4 as the center serves a one-game suspension for his cross-check to the head of Boston’s Rich Peverley.

If the line combinations at KCI stick for Game 4, veteran winger Mike Knuble will be back in the lineup after missing the first three games of the postseason as a healthy scratch.

Here’s what the lines look like:

Ovechkin-Laich-Johansson
Chimera-Perreault-Semin
Hendricks-Beagle-Brouwer
Knuble-Aucoin-Ward
Backstrom, Halpern, Eakin and Sjogren working as extras.

Alterations may not be limited to the forwards, though. Through the first three games of this series, Coach Dale Hunter hasn’t altered his defensive pairings, but the unit of Jeff Schultz and Dennis Wideman have been on the ice for four of Boston’s six goals during that span.

So Wednesday it wasn’t too surprising to see Wideman skating with John Erskine and Schultz with rookie Dmitry Orlov. While it’s not completely clear at this stage which player Hunter intends to bring into the lineup, it seems unlikely that Wideman would sit.

Keep in mind that John Erskine hasn’t played since Feb. 12 and those 8 minutes 31 seconds he skated against New York that day is all the ice time he’s seen since Jan. 31. If the Capitals are looking to add a little more grit against the Bruins, though, Erskine would be a logical choice.

Also worth noting is that late in the regular season, Erskine had his left knee scoped but the rugged defenseman has been on the ice consistently since the start of the postseason.

Defensive pairs Wednesday morning:

Alzner-Carlson
Hamrlik-Green
Erskine-Wideman
Schultz-Orlov

All three goaltenders – Braden Holtby, Michal Neuvirth and Dany Sabourin – are on the ice taking part in today’s practice. This is the first time Neuvirth, who suffered an injury to his left leg on April 5, has participated fully in a regular practice with the rest of the team.

More from Post Sports:
Backstrom suspended for Game 4
NHL roundup: Chicago’s Hossa released from hospital after Torres hit
Hunter: Bruins are targeting Backstrom’s head
Were the Bruins offsides on game-winner in Game 3?

By  |  11:09 AM ET, 04/18/2012

 
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