Roman Hamrlik will be back in the lineup for the Washington Capitals after missing four games with a lower-body injury.
Hamrlik, a 37-year-old defenseman signed this summer to brink more veteran stability to the team’s blueline corps, hasn’t played since a 2-1 loss Nov. 29 against the St. Louis Blues – Dale Hunter’s first game as the team’s coach.
“Roman’s a veteran,” Hunter told reporters. “He’s been around a long time and we need him back in there. He moves the puck, passes really well. We need him there to block shots. He’s one of the best shot-blockers, so he should give us a lift tonight.”
Hamrlik has been a bit of a disappointment so far this season, though this is the second injury he’s had to deal with. He has one goal and no assists in 23 games, and is also a team-worst minus-10. Jeff Schultz, who played less than four minutes in a win Thursday against Ottawa, will be the odd man out on defense Saturday night for Washington when they face the Toronto Maple Leafs at Verizon Center.
In other Capitals’ news, forward Jay Beagle skated on the ice with his teammates for the first time since Pittsburgh’s Arron Asham knocked him out in a fight Oct. 13 at Consol Energy Center. He has been skating on his own in an attempt to return from a concussion that stemmed from the fight. Beagle is still not cleared for contact.
Matt Hendricks, who did not play in the final period Wednesday because of a knee problem, was not on the ice and will not play against the Maple Leafs. Defenseman Mike Green, who has not played since Nov. 11 because of a groin injury and hasn’t completed a game since Oct. 22, did not skate.
Here’s what the lineup should look like Friday night for the Capitals against the Leafs:
Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – Alexander Semin
Jason Chimera – Brooks Laich – Joel Ward
Troy Brouwer – Marcus Johansson – Jeff Halpern
Cody Eakin – Mathieu Perreault – Mike Knuble
Karl Alzner – John Carlson
John Erskine – Dennis Wideman
Roman Hamrlik – Dmitry Orlov