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Mike Green close to returning to Capitals’ lineup

Johansson has maintenance day; Neuvirth expected to start Friday

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Mike Green and the Washington Capitals have been playing a game of wait-and-see for a while now. A right ankle injury has kept the defenseman out of the lineup since Oct. 22.

Now, it seems that game is nearing an end — and that he'll be able to play in one very soon. Whether that will come Friday night at the New Jersey Devils, Saturday night at home against the Devils or neither remains to be seen.

"I'm getting better each day. Finally I think I'm getting close," Green said. "We'll see what the docs say today and tomorrow and we'll go from there."

Green took part in another full team practice Thursday and again talked about feeling "great." With a decision still pending, coach Bruce Boudreau said he's "more optimistic every day," but noted Green was still questionable to play.

"Anything is hypothetical and it's all possible. I guess if he played Friday, we'd see how he was Friday and make a determination after that," Boudreau said Thursday. "There's never any, 'Well, he's playing both for sure, or he's playing one for sure.' If he doesn't feel good enough in Friday's skate, then we'll put it off and hopefully he'll be there to go Saturday."

Green wanted to "push" his ankle's limitations in Wednesday's bag skate, and he did so in suicide sprints and one-on-one battles. But he wasn't able to go in two-on-two battle drills, something he said was probably for the best.

But what that workout did was show Green he could deal with some pretty intense physical exertion.

"The wind was good, legs felt good, so it's just a matter of making sure I'm strong with my injury," he said.

Johansson has 'maintenance day'

Center Marcus Johansson's absence in Thursday's practice at first appeared odd, but Boudreau explained the "maintenance day" as a result of some lingering soreness.

"He's fine," Boudreau said. "Some of the young kids sometimes never want to take a day off, and he said he was sore. And I said, 'Listen, I need you. So if you're sore and if the day off is going to make you better on Friday, you take the day off.' He reluctantly came to the trainer today and said, 'I'm pretty sore in one area.' "

If Johansson plays Friday in Newark, expect him to be on the first line with Alex Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer.

Loose pucks

Expect Michal Neuvirth to start at the Devils on Friday night as he was the first goalie off the ice Thursday. Against New Jersey in his career, he is 4-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and .970 save percentage. ... Thursday's practice included Brooks Laich on the second line and Cody Eakin centering the third. 

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