BOSTON | Mike Green’s out and the mystery of which defenseman will replace him in the Washington Capitals’ lineup was solved Saturday morning.
“Hamr’s going in,” coach Dale Hunter said.
So it’ll be Roman Hamrlik, not John Erskine, who steps in Saturday afternoon at the Boston Bruins. Hamrlik has been a healthy scratch for eight straight games.
The 37-year-old former No. 1 overall pick hasn’t played since Feb. 20, when he committed what his coach called a “bad penalty.” Hamrlik fired back at Hunter the next day and has been doing healthy scratch skates every game day since.
“He’s been good in practice. He’s been really working hard and he’s in good shape,” Hunter said Saturday. “The bumps and bruises are healed, so he’s really anxious to get back in. so we expect a good, sound defensive game from him.”
Asked if Hamrlik was banged up, the Caps’ coach responded: “No, the typical hockey stuff.”
Hamrlik was paired with Dmitry Orlov and Jeff Schultz with Dennis Wideman.
On Friday, Hamrlik had “no clue” whether he’d be in the lineup.
“We’ll see when I get the chance. You can ask me after,” Hamrlik said. “Just keep working hard in practices and thats pretty much what you can do.”
Hunter seemed taken aback by a question of whether Alexander Semin would play Saturday at the Bruins. He was skating as one of four players on the fourth line at Friday’s practice, but he won’t be there in Boston.
“He’s on his regular line,” Hunter said. That would mean Semin on the right wing with Jason Chimera and Mathieu Perreault.
Jeff Halpern was not on the ice for pregame warm-ups. He is a healthy scratch, a team spokesman said.
Mike Knuble will return to the lineup in his place.
Caps’ lines at Bruins:
Marcus Johansson - Brooks Laich - Alex Ovechkin
Jason Chimera - Mathieu Perreault -Alexander Semin
Matt Hendricks - Jay Beagle - Troy Brouwer
Mike Knuble - Keith Aucoin - Joel Ward
Tomas Vokoun will make his second straight start for the Caps, Hunter confirmed. The 35-year-old won Thursday night while shaking off some rust and a couple bad-bounce goals. One puck went in off John Carlson’s skate and in.
Hunter admitted it was an easy decision to go back to Vokoun at the Bruins because he played well Thursday.
Tim Thomas starts in goal for Boston.
Asked about Green’s three-game suspension, Hunter was predictably not expansive about Brendan Shanahan’s decision.
“It’s one of those things that Shanny thought it was necessary and it just gives other players a chance for more ice time and we have to deal with it,” the coach said.
Green is expected to address his suspension around 1 p.m.