Shaone Morrisonn, Sergei Fedorov Are Day-to-Day for Washington Capitals

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 8, 2008

When the Washington Capitals host the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers tonight at Verizon Center, they could be without two important players.

Defenseman Shaone Morrisonn suffered a groin muscle pull in the first period of Thursday's 3-2 victory over Carolina and center Sergei Fedorov left the game early in the third with an undisclosed ailment. Neither participated in yesterday's optional practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, and both are listed as day-to-day, Coach Bruce Boudreau said.

If Morrisonn can't play, but Fedorov can, Fedorov will likely move from center to defense, forcing Boudreau to recast his forward lines. If both are unable to suit up, the Capitals will probably recall a defenseman from Hershey of the American Hockey League this morning.

"We'll see how they feel," Boudreau said. "I don't think with Mo it's anything like he's going on IR."

If Fedorov plays on the blueline in place of Morrisonn, that would disrupt the Capitals' best forward combo from Thursday's thrilling comeback against the Hurricanes. Boudreau put Alex Ovechkin, Fedorov and Alexander Semin on the same line -- and the trio, which starred together on Russia's gold medal-winning world championship team, impressed. Fedorov scored the Capitals' first goal, Semin netted a pair and Ovechkin set up all three goals. Ovechkin, however, still has not scored a goal in eight games, the longest drought of his career.

Should the Capitals require a recall, Boudreau said he would consider giving Tyler Sloan his second NHL stint. Sloan, who skated in four games with the Capitals last month, is day-to-day with an upper body injury, but Boudreau said he would be ready tonight if called upon.

"I thought we had a modicum of success with Tyler," Boudreau said.

Boudreau also said he's leaning toward giving goaltender Brent Johnson his third consecutive start against Henrik Lundqvist (2.00 goals against average) and the Rangers, who are off to an 11-4-1 start.

Johnson has stopped 71 of the 74 shots he has faced in regulation the past two games and is 2-1-2 with a 2.37 goals against average to go along with a .921 save percentage. Johnson is playing his best since joining the Capitals in 2005, and for the time being, appears to have displaced José Theodore as Boudreau's top option in goal. Johnson is taking a more focused approach to practice this season and it has carried over to the games.

"Maybe it's just growing up and not taking things for granted," Johnson said.

The Rangers will certainly test Johnson with a balanced attack that has scored 44 times (tied with Philadelphia for most in the East). At the other end, the Capitals need Semin (10 goals) to continue his torrid start and hope Ovechkin rediscovers his touch. Ovechkin has scored five goals on Lundqvist; only five active goalies have yielded more against the Capitals' star winger.

"When good goalies are on, it's tough to beat them," Boudreau said of Lundqvist, a Vezina Trophy finalist the last three seasons. "So what you hope is that he is not on top of his game."

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