NEWARK, N.J. -- Capitals defenseman Mike Green could return to the lineup tonight at Prudential Center. He has missed the last six games with a right ankle injury.
Both Green and Washington coach Bruce Boudreau used the words "gametime decision" to describe the blue-liner's status for tonight against the Devils, but all indications are that he will play.
Green has participated in every full practice this week, including a bag skate Wednesday. He didn't look to be in any discomfort this morning and came off the ice when the rest of his teammates did. Had he stayed on for extra work, it would have been an indication that he is definitely out.
"It's more how he feels," Boudreau said. "He's cleared to play. It's just up to him."
Boudreau also said the back-to-back against the Devils (Washington plays host to New Jersey on Saturday at Verizon Center) has nothing to do with the decision on Green for tonight.
"Tomorrow might be a different issue, but if he feels good enough to play he's going to play," Boudreau said. "His conditioning is fine after this week."
Washington needs to get Green back in the lineup.
"We're 7-0 with him and 2-4 without him," Boudreau said. "He's a pretty important piece to our puzzle."
NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils goalie Martin Brodeur finally feels as though he's found a rhythm to his season. It's showing in his play.
Brodeur will get his third straight start tonight when the Devils take on Washington. He has won the last two and allowed only four goals in the process.
This is the first time this season Brodeur is on a starting streak. He lost the season-opener, 3-0, and sat out the second game before coming back in Oct. 13 to play Los Angles. He lasted only one period before suffering a shoulder injury that kept him out until Nov. 2, when he returned but gave up five goals to the Maple Leafs in a loss.
Johan Hedberg, who started the six games that Brodeur had to miss because of his injury, got back in the night after the Devils lost to the Leafs and picked up a 4-3 shootout victory against the Flyers the very next night. Brodeur, though, comes into the game Friday after making 21 saves in a 3-2 overtime win against the Jets on Saturday and then 25 saves in a 3-2 regulation win against Carolina on Tuesday.
"The more you play the more you feel comfortable." Brodeur, who isn't expected to play Saturday in Washington, told NHL.com. "It helps to get in somewhat of a rhythm. I didn't have one earlier due to the lack of playing. It felt for a while like the season never started for me, so this is the start of my season now."
As much as the consistent starts matter to Brodeur, the wins mean more to him because now it tells him he's contributing, not just playing.
"For a forward, even if you win but you don't score, you feel you're left out. It's the same thing with a goalie," Brodeur said. "If you can't put anything together to try to get the team to advance in the standings it's hard. It's nice to do that and be part of the team."
For the Devils, it's just nice to have Brodeur back in rhythm. As solid as Hedberg has been, he just doesn't have the same reputation as Brodeur, who is still arguably the most talked about player by opposing coaches and players when they're getting ready to face the Devils.
"It's good for us because he's starting to play really well," Devils captain Zach Parise told NHL.com. "I think he's got that ability to make the opponents think. He definitely at times gets in players heads and makes them overthink. If you can have that as an advantage, that's great."
NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils coach Pete DeBoer confirmed that forward Ilya Kovalchuk will not play in either of the home-and-home games against the Washington Capitals this weekend due to a pulled leg muscle. The Devils host Washington tonight at Prudential Center and play the Capitals at Verizon Center on Saturday.
Kovalchuk has missed the last two games with a pulled leg muscle, an injury he suffered in Philadelphia last week.
"He did skate this morning, but we're in November and … we don't want to turn this into something that lingers," DeBoer said. "Lingering is probably the best way to describe it."
"Early in the season we've made a habit of shuffling our fourth line around, our lines around in general," DeBoer said. "Hopefully (Zharkov brings) some energy and a different look. He's a little bit of a different player than Pelley. He plays a different game and can complement Mills and Janssen hopefully."
Martin Brodeur, who missed several games earlier in the season with a shoulder injury, is expected to get his third straight start in goal. He's won the last two, giving up just 4 goals in the process.
"I'm getting there," Brodeur told NHL.com. "The more you play the more you feel comfortable. It helps to get in somewhat of a rhythm. I didn't have one earlier due to the lack of playing. It felt for a while like the season never started for me, so this is the start of my season now."
Here are the Devils lines and defense pairings from the skate:
VOORHEES, N.J. -- Flyers captain Chris Pronger completed his second straight full practice Tuesday morning and left for Tampa Bay with his teammates later in the afternoon. He again skated with Matt Carle, his normal defense partner, and participated in all of the power-play drills.
The next question is how he will feel off of it later Tuesday when Pronger has had time to relax from the hard practice. That will help determine if he'll be able to return to the Flyers lineup Wednesday in Tampa Bay or if he'll miss his seventh straight game after being struck in the right eye by the stick of Toronto forward Mikhail Grabovski's during a game on Oct. 24.
"I couldn't tell you," Pronger said in response to a question about how his recovery is going. "I've got to see how I feel after today. I didn't feel too hot (Monday), so we'll see how I feel today after a pretty good skate."
Pronger likely won't make any decision until after he takes the morning skate Wednesday. It appears that conditioning is all that's holding him back now. His eye doesn't seem to be a problem.
"It's been a little suspect after the last couple days," Pronger said of his conditioning. "Again, you don't realize how quickly you can lose it when you've done nothing for seven days, you're bedridden for four of them -- the joints need to be moving. Sometimes while I feel like I'm 25, when you're laying decrepit in your bed for four or five days, you get a little tight and stiff."
The rest of the Flyers aren't worried. They've skated with Pronger the last couple of days and to them it looks like nothing is different.
"He looks in great shape," Claude Giroux said. "He's had two or three practices with us and he's moving well. He's a smart player, so if he's in good shape he'll be fine out there. He knows what it takes and how to get ready for a game. He'll be fine."
Whenever Pronger does return, he will be wearing a visor. His ophthalmologist, Dr. Stephen Goldman, wouldn't clear him to play unless he agreed to wear one for at least the time being.
Pronger still is adjusting to the shield that now covers his face.
"Well, I've played with guys that have never worn one then late in the career have had to throw one on because of injury or what have you," he said. "When you have to wear one, you have to wear it and you just get used to it. You don't really have a choice."
He said the colder temperature inside the Flyers' practice facility hasn't allowed him to grasp what it will be like to wear one in a big arena such as the St. Pete Times Forum, which seats 19,758 for Lightning games.
"It's different because this rink is a lot colder than the rinks we're going to play in, so it will fog up a lot more in the game rinks," Pronger said. "Obviously when you start hitting and stuff, sweat is going to fly and all the things that guys deal with shift in, shift out. After pretty much every shift you have to wipe the visor down to keep it clean. It's just a matter of keeping it clean."
Toronto goalie James Reimer did not practice Friday and will miss his seventh straight game Saturday when the Maple Leafs host Boston. The Leafs are saying Reimer has an upper-body injury, but the fear is that he is suffering concussion-like symptoms after getting hit in the head against Montreal two weeks ago.
"I would say he kind of hit a plateau in his recovery so the trainers decided not to ask him to go on the ice," Leafs coach Ron Wilson told reporters in Toronto. "With the other two goalies (Jonas Gustavsson and Ben Scrivens) playing well, if he's not going to face a lot of shots (in practice) it's better for him to just work out off the ice."
Wilson expressed optimism in Reimer's recovery on Wednesday when the Leafs were in Newark to face the Devils. He had hoped that Reimer would be able to serve as Gustavsson's backup, but said it didn't happen because Reimer was gassed after a long workout in the morning and wouldn't have been able to play if he had to go in.
Wilson, though, said after Wednesday's game that he was hopeful Reimer would be able to start Thursday in Columbus. That didn't happen as Scrivens got the call with Gustavsson as the backup.
And now Reimer was held out of practice Friday. There's no word on who will start Saturday against Boston.
"I'm not a doctor or a trainer," Wilson said. "We've got the healthy guys and they're doing the job so we'll give James plenty of time to recover. There's no rush to get him back."
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The Rangers lineup should remain the same for Thursday's game against Anaheim as it was for Monday's win over San Jose. The only difference is that Henrik Lundqvist will likely replace Martin Biron in net.
Here is what the Rangers lines and D-pairings looked like in practice Wednesday:
PHILADELPHIA -- Brian Boucher will get the opportunity to pick up his first win with the Carolina Hurricanes against his old team in a building he knows very well.
Carolina coach Paul Maurice confirmed after the Hurricanes optional skate Saturday morning that Boucher will be in the net against Philadelphia. Cam Ward, who made 30 saves Friday in a 3-0 win over Chicago, will be the backup.
Boucher is 0-1-1 with a 4.46 goals-against average and .850 save percentage. He allowed four goals on 36 shots in an overtime loss to Washington on Oct. 8, and then gave up five against 24 shots in a regulation loss at Winnipeg exactly two weeks later. Both of Boucher's starts have come on the back-end of a back-to-back.
"His first game we put him in Washington on back-to-back nights and he played great, we got a point out of it," Maurice said. "The next night we go from St. Louis and into Winnipeg, he wasn't at his best and neither were we. There's a lot going into tonight, but I have a lot of confidence in him and I am really looking forward to him controlling the game."
Boucher started his career with the Flyers from 1999-2002, and then played the last two seasons in Philadelphia. He was 18-10-4 with a 2.42 GAA last season. Boucher was also 4-4 with a 3.13 GAA in the playoffs.
Here is what the rest of Carolina's lineup should look like Saturday:
PHILADELPHIA -- Jaromir Jagr doesn't play the same position, but he understands precisely what Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov means when he says he has "zero confidence in myself right now" as he did Thursday after an 9-8 loss to Winnipeg.
"No matter how good you are, if you're Wayne Gretzky or somebody from the fourth line, it has the same effect," Jagr told NHL.com on Saturday from Wells Fargo Center, where the Flyers will take on Carolina with Bryzgalov in net. "The only difference is the great players, they can produce even without confidence. They're not going to play their top game, but even their 70 percent is good enough."
But how does it change for a goalie?
"Well, that's what I want to tell you," Jagr said. "It would help if we would play tighter defense and maybe don't take so much risk until he gets the confidence back, but I think it could change in a minute. One good save, one great five minutes, and it could change right away. That's the way it works."
Bryzgalov is going to get that chance despite giving up four goals on 10 shots in relief of Sergei Bobrovsky on Thursday. He is going to get that chance despite the fact that he's 0-4-0 with a 5.14 goals-against average and .802 save percentage in his last four appearances.
"It's all about belief," Jagr continued. "It's belief in yourself, belief in the things you do. If all of a sudden the result is not what you want, you start questioning the things you do even though you know it worked before. When you start questioning something there is not a 100 percent belief in it. It's all about the belief." Flyers coach Peter Laviolette has no choice but to believe despite what Bryzgalov's claim that he's "lost in the woods right now."
Remember, Bryzgalov came on in relief of Bobrovsky on Thursday after the younger goalie gave up five goals on 15 shots. No matter who Laviolette chose to start against Carolina, it was going to be a goalie that is currently fighting the puck.
"We feel like we've got two good goaltenders and we wanted to get Bryz back in there," Laviolette said. "We could have went with Bob, and I'm sure Bob wants to get back in there as well. I'd be confident with either one of them."
PHILADELPHIA -- Ilya Bryzgalov will get the start for the Flyers tonight against Carolina after giving up four goals on 10 shots in a relief appearance Thursday. Bryzgalov said he is suffering through a crisis in confidence after the 9-8 loss to Winnipeg, but Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said he wants to get him right back in there.
Danny Briere did not skate this morning at Wells Fargo Center, but Laviolette did not provide any news on his status. The prevailing opinion here is that he will be able to play against the Hurricanes. Jody Shelley and Matt Walker stayed on the ice for extra work, so they appear to be the scratches.
NEW YORK --Brad Richards has been thinking about making his Madison Square Garden debut as a Ranger since July 2, when he signed his nine-year, $60 million contract.
"It just seems like it took forever to get here," Richards said Wednesday.
Forever ends Thursday night, when Richards finally gets to say hello to his new fans by skating onto the Garden ice in a Rangers sweater. He admitted he'll be nervous.
"It'll remind me a little bit of my first game," Richards said. "It's my first time in this type of market with these type of fans. When you sign with a new team the first thing you want to do is get in the building and play in front of those fans, but that hasn't been the case. I'm excited. I'm sure I'll have butterflies. I can't wait to experience it. It'll be a great experience in my life, my career."
Rangers coach John Tortorella, who was with Richards in Tampa Bay, is also eager to see the team's new superstar make his Garden debut. It'll be the first time Richards will be in the spotlight of Broadway.
"He wants this challenge and everything that comes with the city," Tortorella said. "It's a great city, a great sports town. There are different pressures coming here. There is accountability that comes into play when you come into a big market like this. But that's why Brad Richards is Brad Richards. He wanted this, and that's why we want him."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl