So, your star center is hurt and your star left wing just got sent to his room for three games by the NHL for being bad. That’s about a $16.2 million salary-cap hit missing from the lineup and that problem isn’t really in the how-to-coach-a-hockey-team manual.
But the Caps will have to figure something out with Alex Ovechkin (suspended) and Nicklas Backstrom (concussion) not playing on Tuesday night against defending Stanley Cup champion Boston. Maybe the Bruins will be so distracted by their visit to the White House on Monday – and the kerfuffle caused by the absence of goalie Tim Thomas – that they’ll fail to show up. Okay, probably not. Washington is going to have to do this the hard way.
So what will the lineup look like? Well, expect center Marcus Johansson back after he took ill and sat out Sunday’s 4-3 overtime loss at Pittsburgh.
“I got sick,” Johansson said. “Not much good about it. It’s not fun missing a game.”
Says he’s feeling better and that’s good – because Johansson doesn’t really have a choice at this point. He’s playing. He wore a red No. 1 line jersey at practice on Monday. Expect Johansson to shift to left wing with Mathieu Perreault again serving as the center.
“Everybody goes through injuries. You look at Pittsburgh they got their two top centers out and they had Letang out. You just got to keep battling through it,” Washington coach Dale Hunter said. “Other players will come up. By [defenseman Mike Green] being out we had [defenseman Dmitry] Orlov come up, a young guy that’s played well and established himself as a good player. I thought Matty [Perreault] did a good job last night playing on the top line. It’s a big job and he played against their top checking line and top forwards, [defenseman Brooks] Orpik and that. They’re good players and he did a great job.”
Here were the lines in practice. Don’t think you’ll much difference, if any, against Boston.
With Tomas Kundratek being returned to AHL Hershey – presumably to get some playing time in during the NHL All-Star break – that means we’ll see either John Erskine or Jeff Schultz back in the lineup on Tuesday. Given the Bruins’ physical style of play I’d say Erskine is a pretty good bet. That and Schultz has been a healthy scratch in 18 of the last 20 games.
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