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Mike Green among Capitals defensemen aiming to return

Mike Green hopes to play Saturday after missing a game at Pittsburgh with an undisclosed injury.
Mike Green hopes to play Saturday after missing a game at Pittsburgh with an undisclosed injury. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 23, 2010

One day after playing without half of his regular defensive corps, Washington Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau hopes to have Mike Green, John Erskine and Brian Pothier back in the lineup for Saturday's home game against the Phoenix Coyotes.

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Green, the team's leader in ice time and the league leader in points among defensemen, returned to practice after sitting out Thursday's game in Pittsburgh because of an undisclosed injury.

Although the defenseman said he was limited, he still hopes to face the Coyotes, who have won three of their past four games and sit in fourth place in the Western Conference.

"It's better," Green said. "It's one of those things if [I] was out there I wouldn't have been very useful. So I took a couple of days off to get treatment. I plan on playing. But we'll see how I feel when I wake up."

Green won't say what's ailing him or when the injury occurred. He blocked a shot during the second period of Tuesday's victory over the Detroit Red Wings and was struck on the left hand or wrist. Television replays showed Green on the bench in obvious pain.

Pothier and Erskine participated fully in the optional session at Kettler Capitals Iceplex and are aiming to return as well. Pothier suffered a hand injury while blocking a shot five games ago in Florida; Erskine hasn't played since Jan. 9 because of an upper-body injury.

"They're both in the same position as Mike," Boudreau said. "I think by game time tomorrow we'll have eight healthy defensemen to choose from."

Carlson sent down

With three veterans close to rejoining the team, John Carlson was reassigned to the minor league Hershey Bears after arguably his best effort. The rookie skated a career-high 17 minutes 43 seconds and notched his first NHL point with a secondary assist on Tomas Fleischmann's breakaway goal.

On his most recent three-game recall, Carlson posted a combined plus-minus rating of plus-6, the best rating of any Capitals defenseman during that span.

"Good things happen when he's on the ice," Boudreau said. "He makes a steady play most of the time, and he competes hard. He's going to be an NHL player for a long time.

"But, right now, when you've got eight healthy defensemen, he's got to be the guy who takes the back seat, just as Karl [Alzner] did for a year. It didn't hurt Karl's development, and it's not going to hurt John."

Varlamov still ailing

The injury news wasn't so encouraging regarding Semyon Varlamov, who has been sidelined since Dec. 7 because of groin-muscle and knee strains. The goalie did not skate for the seventh straight day.

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