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At the Rink blog

Capitals could again have new-look lineup

Monday, 03.19.2012 / 1:56 PM

By Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent / At the Rink blog

DETROIT -- During a 5-2 loss Sunday in Chicago, Washington Capitals coach Dale Hunter scrambled his line combinations in search of more offensive firepower.

It worked in the second period as the Caps scored twice, but didn't seem to do much in the third.

Washington held a very limited optional morning skate at Joe Louis Arena on Monday prior to facing the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night, so it's anybody's guess how Hunter's lineup will look.

The best guess is that he goes back to what the Caps started with against Chicago, plus a couple of anticipated changes. Roman Hamrlik could be inserted into the lineup on the blue line with Jeff Schultz a likely candidate to be replaced, while forward Jeff Halpern also could get back into a game.
 
Forward Joel Ward, who was a plus-1 against the Blackhawks, was one of only a handful of skaters on the ice Monday, so he could be a candidate to sit out.

Goalie Tomas Vokoun will not dress for the second straight game due to a lower-body injury that he aggravated this past Friday in Winnipeg. Braden Holtby will dress for the second straight game, but Hunter would not reveal who will get the starting nod between him and Michal Neuvirth, who took the loss in Chicago.

On the other side of the building, the Red Wings again will be without a number of injured players -- including captain and star defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom (bruised ankle), star forward Johan Franzen (back spasms), center Darren Helm (lower body), backup goalie Joey MacDonald (back spasms), defenseman Jakub Kindl (oblique strain), defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (broken wrist) and forward Patrick Eaves (injured reserve, concussion).

Jimmy Howard, who recently was among the injured with his own groin issue, will get the start in net, with Jordan Pearce backing him up.

The good news for both Detroit and Washington is that Russian stars and friends Pavel Datsyuk and Alex Ovechkin are healthy enough to face each other again -- which usually is a lot of fun to watch for fans and fellow teammates alike.

Detroit fell to fifth in the Western Conference because of tie-breakers after Nashville beat Anaheim on Sunday, while the Caps are clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the East, just two points ahead of ninth-place Winnipeg and 10th-place Buffalo.

Here's a look at how the Capitals and Red Wings might line up Monday:

CAPITALS
Alex Ovechkin - Brooks Laich - Marcus Johansson
Jason Chimera - Mathieu Perreault - Alexander Semin
Matt Hendricks - Jay Beagle - Troy Brouwer
Mike Knuble - Keith Aucoin - Jeff Halpern

Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Dmitri Orlov - Dennis Wideman
Roman Hamrlik - Mike Green

Michal Neuvirth could get the start in goal, with Braden Holtby available as the backup.

RED WINGS
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Todd Bertuzzi - Pavel Datsyuk - Gustav Nyquist
Drew Miller - Justin Abdelkader - Danny Cleary
Tomas Holmstrom - Cory Emmerton - Jan Mursak

Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Kyle Quincey - Ian White
Brendan Smith - Doug Janik

Jimmy Howard will start in goal, with Jordan Pearce the backup.

I didn't think it would actually work, but it ended up working, so I'm thanking my lucky stars tonight.

— Columbus forward Nick Foligno on scoring the overtime goal after telling the Blue Jackets in the locker room that he would win the game