Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau has said multiple times that ideally he would like to have his playoff lineup healthy and playing a few games together before the start of the postseason. That hasn’t been the case for Washington, though.
The Capitals have played three consecutive games in which a defenseman was unable to complete a contest because of injury, adding to an already depleted blue line.
Now add to the mix the absence of Alexander Semin, who did not travel with the team to Toronto because he is tending to what Boudreau described yesterday as “injuries from the past.” Boudreau said if it were the playoffs, Semin would be in the lineup, but at this point the decision has been made to ensure the Russian winger is healthy for the postseason. Tonight against the Maple Leafs, then, there will be another set of line combinations on display.
Asked if players prefer have everyone working together prior to the playoffs, Jason Arnott responded, “Absolutely.”
“Sometimes that can’t happen though,” Arnott continued. “I think, obviously, you’d want everybody that’s going to play in the playoffs ready to go and to get a few games all together, but in certain circumstances like ours, that’s just not going to happen. So you’ve got to just try to do the best you can and hope everything gels when you need it to.”
The Capitals are expecting to get either Mike Green (concussion) or Tom Poti (groin) back on the active roster prior to the start of the playoffs, based on Boudreau’s comments on Monday.
In the case of either defenseman, neither of whom traveled with the team, there will likely be at least a small adjustment period. Green will miss his 18th straight game tonight since being hit in the head by New York’s Derek Stepan on Feb. 25. In Poti’s case, the veteran has been limited to only parts of 21 games this season and hasn’t played since Jan. 12, when he saw less than six minutes of ice time against Tampa Bay.
Despite the time missed by both players, Matt Bradley doesn’t think it would be too tough for the Capitals who have been in the lineup night in and night out to adjust to the return of either Green or Poti, but particularly the two-time Norris Trophy finalist.
“For them there’s a bit of a feeling-out process, just a matter of getting your mind going again, and that doesn’t usually take too long. For us, though, a guy like Greenie can come into the lineup and I’m not sure it matters,” Bradley said. “He’s such a skilled guy that there’s little to no adjustment process. He’s the kind of guy that the first game he comes back, he could score two goals and any time you can bring back arguably the best defenseman in the league, it can’t hurt.”
According to reports in Washington, Green skated at KCI again this morning. On Monday, Green wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a return in one of the two regular-season games that remain after tonight’s tilt in Toronto.
--Over at the Early Lead, Cindy Boren has video of the shot-blocking effort that caused the Rangers’ Ryan Callahan to break his ankle, leaving New York without one of its most important players entering the postseason.