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Kozlov to return tomorrow

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Viktor Kozlov will be back in the lineup tomorrow night, so sayeth coach Bruce Boudreau. Kozlov has missed nine straight games with a groin injury. Boudreau said Kozlov is “a piece of the puzzle” and “a round peg in a round hole” on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.

Boudreau didn’t say for sure that he would be back on the top line tomorrow night against Atlanta, but it sounded like that is a pretty good possibility.

When asked about Michal Neuvirth possibly playing tomorrow night against Atlanta, Boudreau evaded that part of the question. Jose Theodore has started nine of the past 10 games and 23 of the past 27. It isn’t necessarily that Theodore needs the rest right now, but getting Neuvirth a game and Theodore a couple of days in a row off sometime in the next few days probably isn’t a bad idea with an towards a potential deep playoff run.

Boudreau also hinted there could be other changes to the lineup, but hasn’t made any definitive decisions.

The Caps have 21 games remaining, and only four are against teams that made the playoffs last year (including 13 straight to finish the year against teams that didn’t). Of these 21, only five are against teams currently in a playoff position (three against Florida and one against Boston and Philadelphia).

Translation: The Caps have a chance to make a run at Boston for the top spot and clear up some consistency issues — if they are properly motivated (which some people would say has been an issue in recent weeks).

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