The Washington Times - April 1, 2009, 10:32AM

The Caps are just finishing up their morning skate here at K-Plex. Several guys took the morning off, but one guy that ventured out there is goaltender Brent Johnson, who is trying to come back from hip surgery. Johnson isn’t doing a whole lot, but just being on the ice in full gear would be progress.

Johnson last played two months ago today against Ottawa. He was taking shots from the defensemen near the end of the skate. He is about six weeks removed from the surgery, and the original prognosis was “up to two months.” If he were ready two weeks from now, he could be Jose Theodore’s backup for the first round of the playoffs.


Also, Milan Jurcina is the last defenseman on the ice, so expect him to be the healthy scratch tonight against the last-place New York Islanders.

UPDATE: Bruce Boudreau said he hasn’t been given a timeline on when Brent Johnson might be ready to return. If Johnson were able to return, the Caps could send Simeon Varlamov to Hershey and he could play for the Bears in the playoffs.

Boudreau said there is two ways to look at that — A) he is facing better shooters in practice here or B) he would be gaining game experience with the Bears.That might become a very interesting subplot to monitor when the playoffs begin — the Caps could shuttle Varlamov back and forth to get him in some games with Hershey, provided nothing happens to Theodore and Johnson is 100 percent healthy.

Johnson also said he doesn’t want to put a timeline on when he might be back, but it isn’t likely to be before the end of the regular season. He is going to see the doctor who performed the surgery on April 9, which is right in the middle of the last road trip of the season.

He said he felt pretty good today on the ice — an improvement from when he went out on the ice “a couple of weeks ago” and ended up trying to do too much. Johnson wants to get back ASAP, not only to play hockey again and be around the guys every day — but also because he said being away from everyone has been really boring.

Boudreau also talked about using these last six games of the regular season to figure out what his lines are going to be in the playoffs. He made a large circle with his hands and said the lines have been kind of everywhere all season, and then closed his hands to signify how he wants to firm up where everyone is going to be.

That might be what happens, but remember that he shuffled his lines midway through the Flyers series last year. Point is, Boudreau likes to tinker when everything isn’t clicking, so don’t expect to see the same four lines throughout a playoff run no matter how deep the Caps go.