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Game 7 could be last for Caps' Knuble

by Ben Raby /
ARLINGTON, Va. – It remains to be seen whether Washington Capitals forward Mike Knuble will return to the NHL for a 17th season of professional hockey. Knuble becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1- three days before he turns 40 -- and he's coming off his least productive season since the 2001-02 campaign.

Mike Knuble
Right Wing - WSH
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 1
SOG: 1 | +/-: 1
After eight straight 20-goal seasons, Knuble was held to six goals and 18 points in 72 games this season. He also missed 10 games as a healthy scratch and finished with a career-worst minus-15 rating.

Knuble is expected to skate on Washington's fourth line Wednesday when the Capitals face the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series (7:30 p.m., ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS). Game 7 will in fact be Game 1,098 in Knuble's career (regular-season and Stanley Cup Playoffs combined). Should the Bruins win, it may also be his last.

Among players still competing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, only Philadelphia Flyers forward Jaromir Jagr, New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur and Phoenix Coyotes forward Ray Whitney are older.

"I guess you have your moments when you're sitting around to think about where you are at the point you are in your life," Knuble said Tuesday. "There are moments like that, but you're so involved in the moment and what's happening now that you try not to weigh those thoughts too much." 

Knuble was a healthy scratch for the first three games of Washington's first-round series, but returned to the lineup in Game 4 when Nicklas Backstrom's one-game suspension left an opening in Dale Hunter's lineup.

The former Bruin did enough in Game 4 to stay in the lineup -- when Backstrom returned, Mathieu Perreault was scratched -- and Knuble was rewarded for going to the net in Game 5 with a third-period goal.

Knuble is one of two Capitals with a Stanley Cup ring -- Troy Brouwer is the other -- and his playoff experience already includes a Game 7 at TD Garden. In his final game with Boston in 2004, the Bruins were the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference but were upset at home in Game 7 against the No. 7 seed Montreal Canadiens

It's a scene that Knuble is confident could play out again in 2012 as the No.7 seed Washington Capitals seek their first ever Game 7 win on the road.

"We're all confident in our game and the way we're playing," he said. "There's no second-guessing what's happening in what we're doing on the ice. It's very clear the way we need to play… For us to be in this position, other than winning in our rink, we'll take a Game 7. Roll the dice, see what happens."
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