Mike Knuble said he expects to be ready to play on Friday when the Capitals host the Tampa Bay Lightning at Verizon Center after a shot hit him in the face on Nov. 19 in Atlanta and broke his jaw forcing him to miss the past three games.
Aside from a jaw shield, at first glance he looks like the same regular Knuble. But upon closer inspection, you can see the metal brackets and metal plate that are holding his jaw together and stitches on the left side of his chin where the puck struck him. Knuble's no stranger to injuries of all types, but this is the first time he's broken his jaw. The good news, though is he can talk and eat without having everything blended first.
"I'm lucky. Quintin Laing last year had it all wired shut, and that would be very claustrophobic I feel like, if you're not able to open your mouth," said Knuble, who spent the past three days skating with Caps strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish. "I'm able to eat pretty well. I lost a couple pounds but just because I can't snack. It will be a while before I can chew up a steak or something, but I've been eating Ok. These brackets make your teeth sore more than anything."
Knuble suffered the injury with about 12-minutes elapsed in the second period against the Thrashers when Eric Fehr's shot hit him squarely in the face. (Knuble joked on Thursday that Fehr owed him dinner, once he could chew properly.)
"If it was probably an inch higher I probably would have lost a bunch of teeth instead," Knuble said. "And that might be a little worse, be a lot more pain but it happens."
As for the jaw shield, Knuble said it's not much of an adjustment on the ice with the only exception being if he looks down and the plastic guard hits him in the shoulder or collar bone. Coach Bruce Boudreau wouldn't give away any of his plans for lines on Friday, so we'll have to see where Knuble might fit in after the combination of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Brooks Laich did so well against Carolina.
Other practice notes:
--Boudreau said Tyler Sloan has been placed on injured reserve, which means he must miss at least seven days from his last appearance (Nov. 22 against New Jersey). If Mike Green or any other defensemen isn't able to play against the Lightning the Capitals will recall Brian Fahey from Hershey again.
--Green said he wasn't sure if he'd be back in the lineup on Friday adding only that while sometimes feels fine, this nagging injury can limit his game significantly.
--Michal Neuvirth said he feels ready to go if needed. He tweaked his groin in the pre-game skate against Atlanta and was fighting through the days on the weekend but that it was a very minor problem that just required rest.
--Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Tom Poti did not take part in practice this morning and Boudreau said it was a maintenance day for all three.
--Lines this morning for who was on the ice were: Laich-Backstrom-Knuble, Fleischmann-Johansson-Fehr, Chimera-Gordon-Hendricks, King-Steckel-Bradley. Defense: Schultz-Green, Alzner-Carlson, Erskine-Sloan.
--Don't forget, tomorrow's tilt with Tampa Bay is at 5 p.m. and there's no morning skate.