The Washington Times - March 31, 2011, 11:12AM

Tyler Sloan is the next man up for the Capitals. And his chance will likely last longer than just Thursday night’s game against the Blue Jackets.

That’s because defenseman Dennis Wideman was downgraded to “week-to-week” with a lower body injury, the team announced Thursday morning.

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“It’s just he’s not ready for tonight and he won’t be ready for Saturday, so it has to be week-to-week,” Bruce Boudreau said.

Asked if Wideman could return before the end of the regular season, the Caps coach couldn’t give a straight answer.

“I couldn’t tell you that right now,” he said. “I wish I was a doctor, but right now I don’t know.”

With Wideman sidelined, Sloan slides into the lineup as the sixth defenseman.

“It’s been a while,” Sloan admitted. “I haven’t played a lot of games this year, so any opportunity I get is always welcome.”

Sloan is looking forward to the chance to step into the lineup for the first time since March 18. But getting his timing back is something he’s concerned about.

“Defense is a pretty tough position to play as it is,” he said, “and when you’re not playing a lot, you don’t have that confidence, feel for the puck and timing.”

Sloan has registered a minus-5 so far this season and is not considered a fan favorite. But his teammates trust him for his dependability.

“He’s a very good skater and I think at times he uses it to his ability and it allows him to fend off checks and get back to the puck quickly,” Jeff Schultz said. “He’s a steady, stay-at-home defenseman who moves the puck well.”

But, naturally, the Caps will miss Wideman for however long he’s out – especially on the power play.

“There’s other guys that can fill in. John Carlson’s done a good job so far this year,” Schultz said “We’ll look for him to fill in for what Dennis does, and just whoever else is out there has the capabilities of helping the power play out.”