Nicklas Backstrom’s one-game suspension was going to prompt at least one change for the Washington Capitals up front, with a respected veteran stepping back into the lineup.
Judging from Wednesday’s practice, Mike Knuble will get in for Game 4 Thursday against the Boston Bruins, his first appearance since April 5. Knuble skated rushes on the fourth line with Keith Aucoin and Joel Ward.
The top two lines got shuffled back to pre-Backstrom-return, with Marcus Johansson on the right wing alongside Alex Ovechkin and Brooks Laich and Mathieu Perreault centering Jason Chimera and Alexander Semin. The “Wolfpack” line of Matt Hendricks, Jay Beagle and Troy Brouwer remained together.
On defense there was a much more intriguing, unexpected change. The top two pairs of Karl Alzner-John Carlson and Mike Green-Roman Hamrlik were unchanged, but John Erskine was skating with Dennis Wideman and Jeff Schultz with Dmitry Orlov.
It’s uncertain whether the 31-year-old Erskine will play his first game since Feb. 12.
Tomas Vokoun stepped onto the ice and took some shots from teammates about 45 minutes into practice.
Lines and pairings:
Alex Ovechkin - Brooks Laich - Marcus Johansson
Jason Chimera - Mathieu Perreault - Alexander Semin
Matt Hendricks - Jay Beagle - Troy Brouwer
Mike Knuble - Keith Aucoin - Joel Ward
EXTRAS: Cody Eakin - Mattias Sjogren - Nicklas Backstrom (susp) - Jeff Halpern
Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Roman Hamrlik - Mike Green
John Erskine - Dennis Wideman
Jeff Schultz - Dmitry Orlov