ARLINGTON, Va. -- A trying season for Capitals veteran Mike Knuble hit a new low this morning when he was told that he would be a healthy scratch tonight against the Winnipeg Jets.
Knuble, 39, has played in all 53 games this season, the majority of which have been spent on Washington's fourth line.
The eight-time 20-goal scorer has three goals and 11 points this season and is a team-worst minus-14.
Knuble has not scored since Dec. 5 -- a stretch of 27 games in which he has been held to just 3 assists -- and he skated a season-low 8:31 in a 4-1 loss Sunday afternoon to Boston.
With Knuble out, Jay Beagle returns to the lineup after sitting as a healthy scratch for five straight games.
"It's always hard to do but we put Beagle in for more speed," coach Dale Hunter said. "Mike hasn't scored in a while and we figured we'd get him up top to watch the game."
Knuble did not speak to reporters after staying on the ice for extra work this morning with fellow healthy scratch John Erskine and backup goalie Michal Neuvirth.
"We know that he's a team leader," Hunter said. "He worked hard out here [this morning] and that's what leadership is all about, but we wanted to add more team speed and he's the odd-man out."
Hunter said he expects Beagle to play just more than 10 minutes against Winnipeg, including ice time on the Caps' penalty kill.
Beagle will skate on the fourth line alongside Keith Aucoin and Brooks Laich. Aucoin will play in his fourth straight game since being recalled from Hershey of the American Hockey League last week, while Laich remains limited after suffering a left knee injury Sunday.
Laich skated a season-low 9:28 in a 4-0 win Tuesday against Florida.
Here are the Capitals' and Jets' projected lineups for a key Southeast Division meeting at Verizon Center:
Alex Ovechkin - Marcus Johansson - Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera - Mathieu Perreault - Alexander Semin
Matt Hendricks - Jeff Halpern - Joel Ward
Brooks Laich - Keith Aucoin - Jay Beagle
Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Roman Hamrlik
Jeff Schultz - Dennis Wideman
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane - Nik Antropov - Eric Fehr
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn
Alexander Burmistrov - Aaron Gagnon - Antti Miettinen
Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Ron Hainsey - Zach Bogosian
Mark Stuart - Johnny Oduya