BOSTON | It’s yet another biggest game of the season for the Washington Capitals, and coach Dale Hunter is trying something different. That means Marcus Johansson as the top-line right wing along with Alex Ovechkin and Brooks Laich.
Johansson has not scored a goal in 10 games, dating to March 8 against Tampa Bay.
“I liked his speed,” Hunter said of the promotion. “He’s making plays. Speed, again, guys. We need speed in the lineup and we need him to skate.”
The second and third lines remain unchanged: Mathieu Perreault centering Jason Chimera and Alexander Semin and Jay Beagle centering Matt Hendricks and Troy Brouwer. The fourth line at the morning skate at TD Garden looked to be Keith Aucoin between Mike Knuble and Joel Ward.
But Ward got extra work and looks to be out.
“We’re just skating him, getting him in shape,” Hunter said.
Cody Eakin is expected to be in the lineup as the 12th forward.
“He’s a good skater. We’re adding more speed to our lineup,” Hunter said. “He’s been playing well down there, he’s been scoring some goals. Get him up in the lineup.”
Jeff Schultz looks to be the scratch on defense.
Nicklas Backstrom was on the ice, this being his 16th time in 17 days as he tries to come back from a concussion suffered Jan. 3, but he’s not yet ready to play in a game.
“We’ll take it day-by-day and see where it goes,” Backstrom said Wednesday.
It seems as if Jeff Halpern will be a healthy scratch for the third straight game and eighth time in the past 11. Against the top faceoff team in the league, Hunter isn’t concerned because of Beagle’s production in the circles.
Tomas Vokoun was the first goaltender off the ice and will start.
Michal Neuvirth took a shot to his throat about 15 minutes into the morning skate and was attended to by one of the team’s athletic trainers. Neuvirth remained on the ice and confirmed afterward he was OK.
Lines and pairings
Alex Ovechkin - Brooks Laich - Marcus Johansson
Jason Chimera - Mathieu Perreault - Alexander Semin
Cody Eakin - Keith Aucoin - Troy Brouwer
Matt Hendricks - Jay Beagle - Mike Knuble
Karl Alzner - Dennis Wideman
Roman Hamrlik - Mike Green
Dmitry Orlov - John Carlson