The Washington Times - January 5, 2009, 12:50PM

After weeks and weeks of having one of the longest injury lists in the league, the Washington Capitals are suddenly a few days away from being close to full health. A lot can happen between now and then, but things are trending upward in the injury department.

Tomas Fleischmann and Sergei Fedorov skated with the team, and both could be back in the lineup by this weekend. Fleischmann has been out with a slight case of pneumonia. He said he didn’t lose a lot of weight because it wasn’t a severe case, but he was shut down for five days. He didn’t rule out playing tomorrow, but both he and Bruce Boudreau said that Friday against Columbus is a more likely date for his return.

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Fedorov has missed 25 of the past 28 games with an ankle sprain. He went through the full practice, and was walking around afterwards without a limp. He said he hopes to be back by Saturday for the game in Montreal, and Boudreau echoed that sentiment. If both of those guys come back, the Caps will suddenly be flush with healthy forwards. We’ll be back to writing about which guys will need to be healthy scratches instead of which guys can actaully play or not.

Tom Poti and John Erskine also skated today — Poti before practice and Erskine with the team. Neither guy is as close to returning as Fedorov/Fleischmann.

Lots of talk today after practice about the budding rivalry with the Flyers. Sure, they had a hard-fought, seven-game series last year and the Caps haven’t forgotten the 7-1 score from earlier this year, but I have a hard time buying into the “Flyers are the biggest rivals now” theory.

The hype for next week’s game in Pittsburgh is going to be in overdrive thanks to the stuff Alexander Semin said earlier this season. The minute he or Sidney Crosby look at each other the wrong way, or the minute Alex Ovechkin starts hunting down Evgeni Malkin will be when people remember who the “biggest rival” really is.