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If Knuble's out, focus turns to Chimera, Fehr

by Corey Masisak
NEW YORK -- Washington Capitals right wing Mike Knuble did not skate for a third straight day, and it appears he will miss Game 4 of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal series Wednesday night against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Knuble did not participate in the morning skate Wednesday, one day after Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said his absence Tuesday was a "maintenance day" and that he expected the veteran forward to play in Game 4. Boudreau didn't say if Knuble was out, but players did after the coach's media availability.

"I'm not going to talk about any players today," Boudreau said. "Whether he did [make the trip], his equipment is up there, whether he is or not, you'll see tonight whether he's here or whether he's not."

Brooks Laich offered a little more clarity on Knuble's status.

"We'll have to step up while Mike's not in the lineup," Laich said. "He really embodies what we want to play and how we want to play around here."

Jason Chimera skated on the top line during practice Tuesday and the morning skate Wednesday, so it appears he will take Knuble's place next to Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Chimera had the game-winning goal in Game 2 of this series and has played with Ovechkin and Backstrom some this season.

"Just play the way I play, I think that's why they put me there," Chimera said. "A lot of times you get caught up in trying to do the skill game and stuff instead of just playing your game. ...I'm a guy who can get pucks back for them, get in the offensive zone and create some havoc hopefully that will help maybe get some more offensive zone time.

"Sometimes you get caught watching, just not skating where you need to and just watching them. I've done that before many times where you get caught doing their thing instead of your own thing so you've just got to go out and play the same kind of physical-natured game I've been playing."

Knuble was third on the team with 24 goals this season, and he scored the team's second goal in Game 3 here on Sunday. He may have also have been injured just seconds before scoring that goal.

Mike Green took a shot from the top of the zone that glanced off Knuble, and right after he scored he pulled his right glove off to check his hand/wrist before celebrating with his teammates.

"Mike is terrific at going to the net," Backstrom said. "He scores all the dirty goals in front of the net. He's always there. Hopefully we can find a way to be good there, too."

If Knuble does not play and Chimera moves to the top line, Eric Fehr will likely be in the lineup for the first time this series and skate on the right side of the third line with Laich and Marcus Johansson.

Fehr was a healthy scratch in the first three games. He had 10 goals and 20 points in 52 games this season.

"We're hoping for a return performance like last time when he scored two goals," said Laich, referring to Fehr's two goals against Edmonton after missing nearly two months with a shoulder injury. "He's a big body, shoots the puck really well, and I think he really brings us some depth scoring. He's 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds and he's tough to take the puck off. He goes to the net and obviously he shoots the puck really, really well."

Added Fehr: "It's been tough to watch. You wanna be a part of it all, and tonight I'll have a good opportunity, hopefully, to pick up where the third line left off. Just to continue doing what the guys were doing -- forechecking hard, getting in on pucks and putting pucks towards the net. The guys have done a good job with that, and hopefully I can do the same."

Fehr scored three goals for Washington in the first round against Montreal last season -- a series where the Capitals struggled to score goals in the final three games. He was also a standout postseason performer for Hershey in the American Hockey League when Boudreau was the coach for the Bears.

"Playoff reputations are usually forged through years and years of consistency. We obviously haven't been around that long to do that, but Eric has scored big goals," Laich said. "I've played with him for six or seven years and he has scored big goals in the past. He's one of those guys that if you give him a chance, all of a sudden he can pull the trigger and put one in the back of the net. We'll try to get the puck to him as much as possible, especially in the slot, and hopefully he gets some good looks on the net."

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