Varlamov in, Ovechkin "better" for Caps

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The Caps just finished up their morning skate here at “The Rock.” Semyon Varlamov was the first goalie off the ice so it looks like he will oppose Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils. Jose Theodore hasn’t been bad the past two games, but he hasn’t been great either. Look for them to probably split the home-and-home with Florida this weekend.

Bruce Boudreau said Alex Ovechkin is “feeling a lot better” today and he was “really excited” about that. He didn’t offer any updated timeline on Ovechkin’s return.

“I don’t know how much better “a lot better” is, but when he’s telling me he feels better today that is a positive,” Boudreau said.

Michael Nylander’s conditioning assignment with Grand Rapids is over, but there is no offiical word on his next destination yet. The Caps either have to recall him or trade him. He hasn’t joined the team here in Newark, but a recall is still probably much more likely.

Eric Fehr remains out with a nagging rib injury. Tyler Sloan will play at forward in his place. Fehr could be missing a valuable chance to earn more cache in the organization with Ovechkin out.

“For him personally, it is not a good time for him to be out,” Boudreau said. “I don’t know — I thought he was getting closer and he took most of practice yesterday and had to come off.”

Added Fehr: “I was antsy to get back even before Alex went out, but obviously with him gone there is going to be a lot of room to play up front and a lot more ice time to be eaten up. I’d really like to be able to be one of the guys who can take the ice time and do something with it.”

Tom Poti will take Alex Ovechkin’s place on the top power-play unit. Boudreau said he may flop Poti and Mike Green at the points, which would allowed them to be on their off-hand and set each other up for one-timers.

Mathieu Perreault will make his NHL debut tonight for the Caps. He had been playing on the top line in Hershey the past couple of games with Alexandre Giroux and Francois Bouchard. Considering that Giroux was the player of the month and Bouchard was the team’s nominee for AHL player of the week, Perreault must have been doing a pretty good job getting them the puck.

“He’s the guy when we phoned down [to Hershey] that was getting the best recomendation at this stage,” Boudreau said. “We’ve got two offensive centermen (Backstrom and Morrison) and if someone goes down, we’d rather have an offensive centerman here to take that spot.” 

Perreault said it was tough for him and Bouchard last year watching all of the other players on the Bears getting called up to play for the Caps, but Bruce Boudreau told him after training camp this season that he would get his chance and here he is.

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