- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 5, 2008

MONTREAL — Washington Capitals defenseman Steve Eminger hasn’t played in more than a month and has played in just two games this season.

With defensemen Tom Poti and Brian Pothier doubtful for today’s game at Bell Centre with the Montreal Canadiens, Eminger likely will be in the lineup for the third time.

He and his teammates didn’t practice yesterday because a mechanical problem with the charter plane kept the team in Boston until the afternoon.

They also won’t have the benefit of a morning skate today because of the matinee start time. Still, coach Bruce Boudreau won’t accept any excuses.

“If he wants to set himself up for failure, yeah he can say that,” Boudreau said. “No, these are opportunities for a guy who hasn’t played a lot to play the greatest game of his life, so all of a sudden the powers that be have to say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to play him.’ ”

If Eminger does play, it will be his first game since a 3-1 loss to Buffalo on Nov. 26.

Boudreau is “99.65 percent certain” Poti won’t play for the second straight game. The team is 1-6 this season when its ice time leader has not played.

Pothier did not play in the third period of Thursday’s 2-0 loss because of a big hit into the boards by the Bruins’ Milan Lucic.

Alexander Semin, who did not travel with the team to Boston because of a tailbone injury, was not expected to join the club in Montreal. Semin missed 17 games in the first half of the season because of a sprained ankle, and this would mark his second straight absence because of the tailbone issue.

Captain Chris Clark will miss his 17th straight game with a groin injury.

All of these injuries have come while Washington has played some of its best hockey this season. The Caps have moved out of last place in the Eastern Conference with a 7-3-3 record in their last 13 games.

“We need to win, and it is like I told them and tell you guys, I don’t care who is in the lineup,” Boudreau said. “We just have to play better. We could have gone home [Thursday] night and said, ‘Oh, we played OK.’ But that’s not good enough.”

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