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Capitals' Oshie leaves practice early

Washington forward hit by puck, removed for precautionary reasons

by Katie Brown / Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie left the ice Wednesday after he was hit by a puck and did not return to practice, but coach Barry Trotz called it a precautionary decision. 

"He's fine," Trotz said. "He just got tangled up with one of the guys there."

Trotz did not elaborate on Oshie's status for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Philadelphia Flyers at Verizon Center on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, CSN-DC, CSN-PH).

Forward Jason Chimera also left the ice during practice but returned after a brief evaluation by trainers.

The Capitals were 2-0-2 in their season series with the Flyers and Trotz said he sees the benefit of playing a familiar opponent in the postseason, especially one they've seen recently. The Capitals knew there was a chance they would play the Flyers in the first round when they played March 30 at Wells Fargo Center, a game Philadelphia won 2-1 in a shootout.

"Playing the Flyers a couple times in really that last month was very helpful for us just so you got a good feel," Trotz said. "I think it helps the players. It probably helps the Flyers as well. I don't think there's an advantage one way or the other, but I think there's a comfort knowing what you're getting into." 

That familiarity helps when it comes to line matching and player tendencies, and defensemen can derive a particular benefit from it.

"Defensively, we're a step ahead," Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen said. "We know what they do, we know what they like to do, how they beat people, where they have success. On the other side, we're going to try to exploit a few areas and we'll see where that takes us."

The Capitals aren't going to change much, if anything, for Game 1. They'll step on the ice as a healthier team than they were on the first day of the regular season. 

"We're as ready as we're going to be to start a series," Trotz said. "I think as a series plays out there's little, subtle changes that we make in a series. That's what happened last year and that'll happen every year, so we'll see how it plays out every game."

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