Joel Ward skating again, John Erskine out with lower-body injury

March 26, 2012

After assembling for their team picture Monday morning, the Capitals got down to the business of preparing for Tuesday’s key matchup against the Buffalo Sabres in what will be one of the most significant games down the stretch.

A few quick notes from what is a briskly-paced workout at KCI:

— Joel Ward is back on the ice for the first time since last Thursday in Philadelphia, when he took a shot off his foot. The 31-year-old winger is skating with no apparent discomfort as a member of the fourth line.

— For the first time since Jan. 6 in San Jose, Nicklas Backstrom is taking part in his first fully-attended practice with no restrictions. That’s a good thing for everyone to see. He’s working in as an extra skater on the fourth line. Keep in mind, folks, that while this is all good news for Backstrom there remains no timetable for his return to the lineup and he still must clear a few hurdles before he will be allowed back in a game.

— John Erskine is the only player on the active roster who is not on the ice for practice and is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, according to a team spokesman. Erskine hasn’t played since Feb. 12 and has only appeared once in the past 27 games.

— All three goaltenders — Braden Holtby, Michal Neuvirth and Tomas Vokoun, who continues to recover from a groin muscle strain — are on the ice for practice.

— Here are the lines the Caps are using today:
Ovechkin-Laich-Brouwer
Chimera-Perreault-Semin
Johansson-Halpern-Aucoin
Hendricks-Beagle-Knuble-Ward
*Backstrom working in as an extra skater

More on the Capitals:
On Hockey: Ovechkin’s well-timed return to form
Watch ESPN’s Ovechkin piece
Holtby makes a case for No. 1
A LaVar Arrington Caps jersey

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