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NHL realignment set for approval

NHL realignment is good to go with the consent of the NHL Players’ Association, executive director Donald Fehr said in a statement released Thursday afternoon.

Pending approval of the Board of Governors, the NHL will realign into four divisions beginning with the 2013-14 season. The Caps will play in the Atlantic Division with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets.

Under the new playoff format, the top three teams from each division make the playoffs, and the two remaining teams in each conference with the most points qualify as wild cards.

Laich on ice, without skates

Brooks Laich has not skated since Feb. 16 as he battles a lingering groin injury. But the forward did make a cameo on the ice Thursday at the team’s practice facility.

Laich did not even wear skates. He wore sneakers and shorts as he lofted pucks down the ice toward Graham McPhee, son of general manager George McPhee, who was practicing after the Caps were done with their morning skate.