The Washington Times - January 3, 2009, 11:23AM

The Caps will get a little healthier tonight when the Rangers come calling at Verizon Center. Alexander Semin will likely play for the first time since being cross-checked in the back Dec. 18 against St. Louis. Ever the unpredictable one, this comes one day after Semin said he wasn’t close to returning.

Semin will take the warm-up skate and then decide if he is able to play. Alexandre Giroux might stick around and take the pre-game skate as well in case the team is worried Semin won’t be able to play.


Donald Brashear will also be back in the lineup. He has missed three of the past five games since Arron Asham took a whack at his leg.

An interesting note, former Caps forward/Swedish national coach Bengt Gustafsson is in town for the week as a “guest coach.” Bruce Boudreau said he thinks it is a great idea to swap coaching tidbits with Gustafsson — and I’m sure there will be an update or two on Anton as well.

Tom Poti and Tomas Fleischmann were on the ice after the morning skate, and Boudreau said he thinks Flash is close to returning.

Finally, one of the happiest players in the dressing room this morning had to be Milan Jurcina. He watched his native Slovakia stun the United States at the WJC yesterday at Fleischmann’s place. The 5-3 win is being hailed as one of the great victories in Slovakian hockey history.

“In the last few years at world juniors we didn’t do well,” Jurcina said. “It was a very, very big game. Right now, it is huge deal in Slovakia. All the newspapers and TV stations are talking about it. It is very big, and we have the Swedes today [in the semifinals] so it will be another tough one.”