That Clark played well in Game 7 against the New York Rangers, his only action in the playoffs so far, also has done wonders for his confidence.
"Oh, it was huge," said Clark, who will likely skate as the left wing on the Capitals' fourth line with center Boyd Gordon and right wing Eric Fehr for Game 1 Saturday against Pittsburgh. "Getting that one game under my belt coming into a new round makes all the difference as well. It's not first-game jitters, all that stuff is gone, out of the way. Now I am just ready to play hockey."
Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau admitted he was surprised that Clark, who played 11 shifts totaling 8:13 in Game 7, was as effective as was.
"I'm hoping he's pain free," Boudreau said. "He's going to continue to play and as the series goes hopefully he will play a real important role."
Line rushes -- If you believe in what a team shows in practice, the Capitals will likely start Game 1 Saturday with the same lines and defensive pairings that they used to finish off the New York Rangers.
That means Alex Ovechkin, Sergei Fedorov and Viktor Kozlov will be together and Tomas Fleischmann will be on the left wing with center Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin.
The Caps' third line has Brooks Laich on the left with David Steckel in the middle and Matt Bradley on the right. Clark, Gordon and Fehr make up the fourth line.
The D-pairings should also remain the same: Shaone Morrisonn-Mike Green, Tom Poti-Milan Jurcina, John Erskine-Brian Pothier.
Schultz still out -- Washington defenseman Jeff Schultz skated in practice Friday as the seventh defenseman. He hasn't played since Game 1 against the Rangers and is still feeling the effects of some sort of injury (possibly back).
Even if Schultz were 100 percent, with the way the Capitals blue-liners played against the Rangers he isn't likely to get back in the lineup any time soon.
The same goes for Michael Nylander, who was a healthy scratch for Games 3-7 against New York. Nylander, Schultz and Donald Brashear, who still has five games to serve on his suspension, were the extra skaters in Friday's practice.
"You can only in your head feel what the game is going to do. The pace might be twice as much as what I'm thinking it's going to be or it might not be anywhere near what I'm thinking it's going to be." -- Bruce BoudreauHe said it - "You can only in your head feel what the game is going to do," Boudreau said. "The pace might be twice as much as what I'm thinking it's going to be or it might not be anywhere near what I'm thinking it's going to be. We don't know until we actually get in there and see what is going on. That's what is great about a seven-game series. You make adjustments along the way. That's what this is all about. I expect it to go, in my mind, 100 miles-per-hour down both ends with hits and great saves and the crowd going nuts. It might be that, but it might not. We'll soon see."
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