Wouldn’t expect to see Jay Beagle out on the ice for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Saturday in New York. Washington’s third-line center took a puck off his right leg in Game 5 on Monday, but hasn’t been seen on the ice since. The team had a day off on Tuesday, Beagle didn’t participate in the morning skate or Game 6 on Wednesday and the Caps were off again on Thursday. He was not on the ice at practice on Friday, either. Hard to see him making a return now. Washington coach Dale Hunter wouldn’t even say if Beagle was making the trip with the team to New York. Beagle remains officially listed day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
In his place will likely again be veteran center Jeff Halpern, the District native who returned to the lineup for the first time since March 23 and had an eventful night. He took a four-minute penalty for high-sticking, but also seemed to have decent chemistry with center Keith Aucoin and winger Mike Knuble on the fourth line and took 13 faceoffs. Halpern was one of the NHL’s best on draws this season (58.4 percent). Not bad for a guy who was a healthy scratch for almost seven weeks.
“I’ve touched on with myself and I can’t speak for Jeff, but just from knowing him as a guy, he’s a local guy, he was captain here before and of course it’s very difficult,” Knuble said. “I thought he came in and did a great job. He just jumped right into the game and played like he didn’t miss a day. He’s a veteran guy, you know it’s very difficult, but he got his chance and he did well with it. It’s got to be pretty satisfying for him in that respect.”
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