The Washington Times - March 26, 2012, 12:53PM

Troy Brouwer chuckled when asked about Joel Ward taking a shot from Danny Briere off his foot and missing a few days.

“It seemed like a harmless shot but sometimes they get you just in right spots,” Brouwer said. “We’ve been having some fun with him.”

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Ward was able to skate Monday for the first time since Thursday night, responding to a question about how he felt with “amazing.”

“No, I feel pretty good just to come off crutches. I’m making progress,” Ward said. “Actually a lot better today. Better than I thought. Still a little bit of work to do.”

The 31-year-old right wing said he’s feeling better as more treatment goes on. Ice packs and a stationary bike are part of the routine.

Ward, who was off crutches Saturday, was a little surprised he was able to skate so well Monday at Washington Capitals practice.

“I was a little skeptical at first, but when I put the boot on today, it kind of responded a little bit better,” he said. “And once I kind of got warmed up a little bit, it felt a lot better.”

Ward admitted that his foot swelled up, something that he has had to manage. But there is a sense of relief the foot was not broken.

“I was a little worried about hopefully [not] a fracture or anything like that,” Ward said. “I kind of got good news from the doc. Ice and the basic routine right now.”

Ward’s status is questionable for Tuesday night’s game against the Buffalo Sabres, the battle for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. He said he “never” rules himself out and obviously wants to be able to play.

“Especially this time of year and Cherry Blossom season and the weather’s nice. It’s always good to be playing hockey this time of year,” Ward said. “It’s playoff hockey, and you definitely want to be playing. That’s what I was hoping to do.”

Whether Ward plays or not, Brouwer was happy his teammate was back on the ice.

“To get him back out there, to get him skating again at such a crucial time of the year it’s a good sign for us,” Brouwer said.