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Capitals' Alzner likely for Game 1

Washington defenseman took two days off for maintenance

by Katie Brown / Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner missed practice for a second consecutive day because of maintenance but is expected to play in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Verizon Center on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports).

Capitals coach Barry Trotz said Alzner put a lot into the first-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers and wanted him to get an extra day of rest before the next round started. Though Trotz said he has no concerns about Alzner's availability for Game 1, he did say he was injured.

"I'm not worried about his conditioning or anything," Trotz said. "I'd like him to get to as close to 100 percent as he can. With the type of injury, right now, he'd just irritate it more than anything. We'd rather him just stay off, and he'll be fine. He's in all of the meetings. He's going to be fine." 

Alzner averaged 22:44 of ice time in the first round, third among Capitals players behind defensemen Matt Niskanen (25:32) and John Carlson (24:58). Alzner has played in 458 consecutive regular-season games, fifth longest among active NHL players.

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At practice Wednesday, Mike Weber skated with Niskanen, Alzner's usual defense partner. Though Alzner said he struggled with various ailments during the regular season, he played in all 82 games. His absence from practice appears to be precautionary.

"It doesn't really matter if he skates to me or not, to be honest with you," Carlson said. "I'm not going to cry about it or anything. He'll be ready."

Defenseman Brooks Orpik, injured in Game 3 of the first round, practiced for a second consecutive day. He did not appear to be limited and skated with Carlson. 

Orpik had to be helped off the ice in the second period of Game 3 after a hit by Philadelphia's Brandon Manning and missed the final three games of the series with an upper-body injury. He previously missed 41 games of the regular season with a lower-body injury.

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"He's a big part of what we do, he's a big part of the culture so he can make a [difference]," Trotz said Tuesday. "Primarily he's a good defender and a warrior and a good penalty killer, so yeah, there's no question he can help us.

"Obviously, he's skating with us, so we'd consider him day-to-day unless I get an update. He's progressing or otherwise he wouldn't be out there. He's getting close."

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