With Nicklas Backstrom serving a one-game suspension tonight, Coach Dale Hunter has been forced to scramble his forward lines. One of the changes appears to be Hunter inserting veteran Mike Knuble into the lineup for tonight’s Game 4 against Boston.
It will mark the first time Knuble has played since the second-to-last regular season game on April 5. He’s expected to skate on the fourth line with Keith Aucoin and Joel Ward.
“We can be effective as a line,” Knuble said. “Our goal is going to be [to] log some time in their offensive zone. Tilt the ice; that’s your job. Play in their end.”
Although Knuble hasn’t suited up in two weeks, he’s comfortable going from the press box directly into the playoff cauldron. Last spring, the 39-year-old suffered a broken thumb in Game 3 against the Rangers and returned for Game 2 against Tampa.
“I know how to jump back into it,” he said. “You just do what you’ve always done.”
In addition to providing the Caps with a dose of experience and a big body capable of banging down low, Knuble said he hopes his line can capitalize on matchups and contribute offensively. In March, he scored on Long Island and in Chicago while skating on a line with Aucoin and Ward.
“We want to be a strong fourth line tonight,” he said. “Keith and Joel and I showed some chemistry at the end of the year [when] we played together in Winnipeg and Chicago. I think we know what we’re doing together and we play off each other nicely.”
“They play their fourth line a lot and you anticipate getting out against them and their third set of ‘D,’” he continued. “So you want to try to do the best you can for them.”