Updated 12:40 p.m.: It should come as no surprise at this point of the season that Coach Dale Hunter remained mum when asked about potential alterations to his lineup. But despite the coach’s non-committal response it certainly seems as though Jeff Schultz will be back in the mix for Game 7.
“I don’t really know. It’s a chance for me to get back in. It’s kind of all or nothing and go out there and play,” Schultz said. “They’re really good at getting shots through and they crash the net hard and they really look for those odd-man rushes. So team-wise it’s clearing pucks in front and eliminating them down low and keeping them wide. For myself it’s just going out there and playing like I know how to play.”
Of the four Game 7s the Capitals have played since the 2008 postseason, Schultz has appeared in just one the loss to the Montreal Canadiens in the first round in 2010.
Schultz said he knows if he does get back in the lineup that he will need to focus on keeping the Bruins to the outside and that as a whole the Capitals will need to minimize mistakes.
“Just kind of clean up our mistakes. That’s what killed us the last couple games,” Schultz said. “We don’t need to change anything. I’m sure both teams are saying that. It’s just clean up those mistakes and capitalize on a few more chances and kind of see what happens in the end.”
Original post: Practice is underway at KCI as the Capitals prepare for Game 7 in Boston.
The team is working through drills with the same lines it used in the previous contest, but keep in mind that these could easily change before puck drop Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
Perreault and Halpern working as extras
Where there is a change, however, is on defense. After being scratched for Games 4, 5 and 6 Jeff Schultz is skating in a pairing with Dennis Wideman during practice, which could indicate that the rangy blueliner will be back in the mix for Game 7.
John Erskine, who took Schultz’s place in the lineup the past three contests, is skating with rookie Dmitry Orlov, who has yet to make his NHL playoff debut.
It’s tough to gauge who Coach Dale Hunter might opt to sit for Game 7. Schultz was on the ice for four of the Bruins’ six goals in the first three games before he moved to the press box as a healthy scratch.
Meanwhile Wideman hasn’t had the greatest series – having been on the ice for eight of Boston’s 12 even-strength goals through six games – but in Game 6 he skated his highest time on ice of the postseason at 24 minutes 20 seconds.
All that said, it seems unlikely that the Capitals would want to throw 20-year-old Orlov into the cauldron of Game 7 for his first NHL postseason game, where every mistake could be costly.
Here is what the pairings looked like in practice:
— Mattias Sjogren is not on the ice for practice because he had a meeting about immigration issues. He’s expected to join the team before its flight to Boston this afternoon.