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Captain Clark cleared to play

by Dan Rosen
ARLINGTON, Va. -- Even Bruce Boudreau was a bit surprised, but Washington captain Chris Clark, who has been out since late January with a wrist injury that required surgery, was cleared to play Tuesday after telling the Washington Post that he's probably two weeks away.

Clark, who sat out most of last season with a groin injury, won't play in Game 1 Wednesday night (7 p.m. ET, TSN), but the right wing said he could possibly be inserted into the lineup Saturday if Boudreau decides a change is in order.

"I assume, yeah, because I have the clearance and I'm in shape," Clark said about playing in Game 2 Saturday afternoon (1 p.m., NBC). "It's not like I'm just jumping on the ice now. I've been going the whole two and a half months, so I don't see why not. But, if we win and we do it handily, it's tough to change the lineup. If we win and have a great game I can't say too much or push too hard for me to get back in there."

Clark said he talked to one of the team doctors Tuesday because he wanted to find out if he could do more physical work during practices such as battling in the corners. He was told that he could, and then the doctor said, "If I think you can do that, then you should be able to play, so go ahead," Clark said.

Clark has played in only 50 games in the past two seasons, including just 18 last season. He had 6 points in 32 games this season, but hasn't played since Jan. 27.

"Definitely I'd be a little bit rusty, but I've been skating the whole time so that takes care a little bit of that and I've been skating with the guys for the last week so that's a step in the right direction with the timing and everything," Clark said. "It's just a matter of jumping back into it eventually."

Clark stayed on the ice well after the players who will suit up for Wednesday's game had left. While still wearing a splint on his right wrist, he worked on his slap shot and it felt good, but just a little stiff. He didn't do much battling drills, but expects to Thursday.

He felt no sharp pains, which was an obvious good sign. And, his groin is completely healthy too since he has skated hard for the last two and a half months.

"I envision it's a possibility (that he'll play)," Boudreau said. "Let's see how the series goes. If we win 5-0 (Wednesday) I'm not making any changes. If we lose 5-0 I'm sure there will be changes.

"We have another weapon. We need one."

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