Caps defenseman Mike Green a likely “game-time decision” for tonight

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Loose Pucks,Sports,Brian McNally

Capitals defenseman Mike Green will likely be a game-time decision for tonight’s game against the New Jersey Devils at Verizon Center. Green, who suffered a lower-body injury in last Thursday’s game at Tampa Bay, previously sat out Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers. Green took part in the team’s morning skate on Thursday at Kettler Iceplex, but during line rushes was paired with Roman Hamrlik, who has appeared in just four games this season and is likely a healthy scratch again tonight.

“It’s frustrating, but you got to be smart,” Green said. “I’ve been through this before so I know what to do and what not to do. Just take it day-by-day here and hopefully I’ll feel good enough to go tonight.”

Added Oates: “He’s a veteran. It’s gonna be his call. It’s an injury where when you warm up for warmups and the intensity of the gamer hits you maybe it improves just enough that you feel you can go.”

In that doesn’t happen, though, then Oates will again turn to veteran Tom Poti. He played with Jeff Schultz on the third pairing on Sunday. Oates said it is possible if Green plays that he could dress seven defensemen instead of the usual six.

“We’re all professionals. When they tap you on the shoulder, you’ve got to be ready to go,” Poti said earlier this week. “There’s no difference. You come to practice every day prepared to work hard and prepared to play, and it’s no different on game day. They give you a jersey, you go out and play and you’re professional about it. That’s kind of the mindset that we’ve all been going by.”

The news was similar for the team’s other injured players: Forward Brooks Laich (groin) did not skate with his teammates, a fifth consecutive day off the ice. He has yet to play in a game this season. Forward Marcus Johansson (upper-body injury) was on the ice, but said afterward he still had no timeline for when he expected to return to a full-contact practice.

“You have to be very careful. I’m out right now and if it happens again maybe I’m out for a longer time,” Johanss0n said. “You never know. Just want to make sure everything is all right before I play again. But hopefully as soon as possible because I miss playing and it’s what I want to do every day. It’s tough, but it’s necessary.”

The injury is a tough break for Green, who had hoped to put together a full season after consecutive years marred by injuries. Green missed 50 games last season thanks to a groin injury that eventually required sports hernia surgery and a minor ankle injury earlier in the season. In 2010-11 he missed 33 games – the majority of those following a pair of concussions.

“Having that guy out there kind of calms everybody down. Anytime he’s out the team isn’t as good,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “Those are the breaks, I don’t think any team goes through a season where they don’t lose at least one of their good players so we’ve just got to deal with it. We’ve dealt with it in the past.”

“He had an extended injury last year, and as a result he was out, I think, a lot longer than what he would’ve been if he would’ve just rested it and came back when he was fully ready,” teammate Troy Brouwer said. “We don’t want that this year because of the shortened season as well. So we need him to rest, get ready and be a hundred percent when he comes back because there’s no time to have him come back for a few games and out for a few games.”

Braden Holtby will start in goal for Washington against the Devils. Here are the lines and defensive pairings expected for tonight’s game if Green can’t play:

Wolski-Backstrom-Brouwer

Chimera-Riberio-Ovechkin

Fehr-Perreault-Ward

Hendricks-Beagle-Crabb

Alzner-Kundratek

Erskine-Carlson

Schultz-Poti

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