The Washington Capitals have plenty of time before they open the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the New York Rangers on Thursday night, which could mean Joel Ward is ready by then.
The right wing took part in Monday’s practice, beginning in a powder blue jersey and then switching to white. Ward rotated in with the fourth line at times. He has the final nine regular-season games with a bruised left knee suffered April 7.
Every other line and every defense pairing was the same in practice 1 of 3 before Thursday’s morning skate and Game 1. Why change anything at this point? The Caps are 15-2-2 in their past 19 games.
New York is 10-3-1 with 51 goals in its past 14 games. It’ll be Braden Holtby vs. Henrik Lundqvist beginning Thursday night at Verizon Center.
Here’s a look at the familiar lineup:
Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Alex Ovechkin
Martin Erat - Mike Ribeiro - Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera - Mathieu Perreault - Eric Fehr
Aaron Volpatti - Matt Hendricks - Jay Beagle / Joel Ward / Wojtek Wolski