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Practice update: Could Tom Poti be ready to return?

The Caps are back in Arlington, and here are some notes from this morning's practice so far:

With the assignment of Brian Fahey back to Hershey, it appears one of the Caps' regular defensemen will be ready to return to action Wednesday against Toronto.

Tom Poti was paired with Mike Green during line rushes, so he could certainly be the guy.

Poti and Tyler Sloan both came onto the ice about 15 minutes early this morning to get loose and skate a little bit by themselves, and both have stayed on and participated in practice.

Poti missed the Caps' last four games with a lower-body injury, but he is moving well today. Sloan missed Saturday's win over Calgary but also seems to look relatively healthy this morning.

Center Marcus Johansson, who is nursing a hip injury, is practicing in a yellow jersey.

Goalie Semyon Varlamov is nowhere to be seen.

As far as I can tell, here are the line combinations and defensive pairings for Monday morning, with a notable switch being the swap of Alexander Semin and Mike Knuble on the top two lines.

Forwards
Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin
Fleischmann-Laich-Knuble
Chimera-Gordon-Fehr
King-Steckel-Bradley/Hendricks

Defensemen
Poti-Green
Schultz-Alzner
Sloan/Erskine-Carlson

Goalies
Neuvirth
Holtby

By Greg Schimmel  | November 1, 2010; 11:18 AM ET
Categories:  Tom Poti  
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Next: Tom Poti 'questionable' against Leafs

Comments

Why not have the same lines as in Calgary...why not give that winning line up another chance to see if they can do a repeat?

Posted by: capper3 | November 1, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Flash on wing, Laich taking the faceoffs. Now we're getting somewhere!

Posted by: j3rockstar | November 1, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Move Hendricks to Flash's spot and you have a real solid defensive line that a lot of us have been screaming for. Why not try Flash/MaJo/Fehr on the 2nd line and have Hendricks/Laich/Knuble as your shut down third line?

Posted by: PhilR | November 1, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Oh, one other thing......King and Hendricks need to be in the lineup against Toronto, lots of big boys that don't mind dropping the mits/taking liberties.

Posted by: PhilR | November 1, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Laich is almost a natural center. He started as a center in the AHL and NHL and while in the dot and the defensive aspect of being a center are some of his strengths being center also takes away his crease presence at ES. He does his best work offensively when he can be in the bakery.

As center he can't really hang out with the masked avengers because of his defensive responsibilities.

Posted by: breaklance | November 1, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

@ Phil, I see where you are coming from, but my counter is -- who parks himself in the crease as a screen, junk goal expert on the 1st and 2nd line? I see the lines now as Knubs on the second and Fehr on the third. I wonder if Fehr will ever get time on the top line as the screen/junker?

Otherwise, put Hendricks on the 3rd line with MaJo/Gordo and Fehr and let Hendricks park his duff in the crease.

I like King, Stecks/Gordo, and Bradley for the 4th line. Mean energy like an energy alcohol drink sending the opposition to the e-room (ok, not cool if your kid has done this binge drinking)

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | November 1, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

JIMALLCAPS1,

As seen the other evening that top line really doesn't need that junk player in front of the net, they can score in bunches no matter what. I think Fehr could provide that junk presence for the 2nd line with MaJo and Flash (until they can dump him for an upgrade at D). Then you have the shut down line with Hendricks/Laich/Knuble, Knuble has slowed down but can still play some mean D.

And there is nothing saying that in PP situations you don't put Laich/Knuble out there as net presence. This team needs a shut down line in order to win the Cup IMO, why not form it now and let it gel over time? Those three guys are the top candidates in my eyes.

Posted by: PhilR | November 1, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

@PhilR

I think your idea has some merit although I would rather have Chimera on the LW than Hendricks. With Knuble and Laich on the same line I think the LW needs to have some speed to compliment the play of Laich and Knuble.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 1, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I would like a true shut down line that can score, too. I like Majo or Gordo centering Knubs/Fehr and Hendricks. If Semin plays good fore and back checking (he really can, look at him on the PK), then the top line works. I still see having a power-forward (Fehr/Knuble) sometimes, depending on the type and time of the game. And yes, trading Flash for a legit shut-down blueliner is a big key to going forward.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | November 1, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Impressive win Saturday night. The 2-0 deficit was just simple bad bounces (weird goal off jokinen, glencross shot seemed to deflect off D-man stickblade just under crossbar). on the road, after a poor game Thurs, it would have been easy to lose focus.
But kudos to BB - who I often criticize in private and in public - for his successful tinkering. I think I even saw a PP when BB started the second unit because the top line had just been on. I like it.

as for the Leafs, I agree w/ PhilR... get the big boys in the lineup since the Leafs will play rough and will look to fight. I hope Erskine recipricates some of the roughness the Caps's forwards will experience.

Posted by: PSD1 | November 1, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

sgm,

I just don't see Chimera having the shut down defensive skills whereas I do see those traits in Hendricks. I hate to see Chimera playing on the 4th line (and really don't see it happening) but do think he is more of an energy line player.

Posted by: PhilR | November 1, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

JIMALLCAPS1,

You don't think a line of Hendricks/Laich/Knuble would be able to score? Imagine those big bodies cycling the puck in the offensive zone! They could tire out a lot of quality NHL lines with that size and grit, I think they would be a very adequate line on the offensive side of the ice.

Posted by: PhilR | November 1, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Why not have...

Chimchim - Hendricks - Fehr

For 3rd line?

Hendricks play center, then we can move Mr. Glass to the 4th line for one game until he hurts his back again and we can place him back on the "he's not hurt" IR.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | November 1, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Glass, that was pretty good.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 1, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Goalie Semyon Varlamov is nowhere to be seen.
---------------------------------

This has to be a real concern. What's up with this guy and his glass groin? Didn't he supposedly work on it to strengthen it during the entire summer?

Posted by: BigGameSid | November 1, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Two centers on that line would be key as well that is why I would rather have Hendricks over Chimera. That way if Laich gets booted out of the dot Hendricks is still a valid center to take the draw.

Posted by: PhilR | November 1, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Sid,

If I were you I'd be more concerned with MAF's crappy play.

Posted by: Steve_R | November 1, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

The first line had a great game, but Calgary wasn't playing that shutdown D that Montreal and Boston were that tends to be the Caps cryptonite. Those pop shots from the circles and slot won't go in on teams that have strong D. So the first line will definitely need a guy in the crease (junker) in those situations, and it would be nice to have one who was under 38 years old.

Posted by: LloydChristmas | November 1, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

On Varly, reports are that he was spotted at Hershey. He drove up there Saturday and took Kuger out to lunch.

He's apparently been seen at the Bears' practice today. But no word from the Caps of him being reassigned.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | November 1, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

In the past, the Ovie/Backstrom/Semin line works in small doses, and then they tend to get a little fancy. I think this was a move to get Ovie and Backstrom going and to reward Semin for his disciplined (for him) play early in the season. He has been good on the P/K and with a little luck could have 10 goals. I would like to see what Fehr can do on the top line but I think he is the doghouse a little bit. Knuble is good for 20+ goals no matter what line he is on. Put Chimera oppisite him with MaJo in between and I think you have a little of everything. Unadulterated speed on one side, a gritty junk goal machine on the other, and a smooth as silk skater with great passing up the middle.

Just a thought.

Posted by: Big_Pushy | November 1, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

@BigFlameSid

Varly plays goalie with his extreme athleticism and lack of positioning. By playing this very eccentric style, we here think he probably hurts himself more often as a result. We hope that once he positions better, the groin injuries will subside.

Not to mention he has to rely on the trainers to help him work through his injuries. Not everyone can have Mario massage them after every game and before tucking them in to bed for the night.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | November 1, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

@Semin

If I were you, I'd be more concerned about that Neanderthal driving off a cliff somewhere, doing drugs, frequent binge drinking, and getting STDs from all his hooker pals, random hos, and gfs. Gee I wonder why conditioning might be an issue for him, as I mentioned before.

@Steve_R

I wouldn't worry too much about MAF. He is a 2x SCF goalie, 1x Cup winner, 1x Oly gold medalist. I think he'll be OK. At least he's not injured, so if Johnson gets injured then they'd really be in trouble. If Neuvy gets injured though, is glass groin going to be ready to play, and at Neuvy's level?

Posted by: BigGameSid | November 1, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Neuvy > MAF

Posted by: LloydChristmas | November 1, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

@PhilR, I like the idea of Majo Flash and Fehr but worry about the D on that line. Looks like if Ovie-Backs-Green-Semin play like they did on Sat, we don't really need secondary scoring, but would be nice to have.

Knuble I think needs a little down time. Seeing 3rd line duty and less ice might help him get back in form for the top line, later. Yes, a top notch 2c with Semin and Fehr at his best on the top line would be ideal. Not this year, it doesn't look like...I would like to see more of Semin and Majo, though.

Posted by: RedLitYogi | November 1, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

@BigLameCindy

it's ok man. i love you. i want to hug you and show you that you are loved. i'm truly sorry your parents didn't love you or show you affection. i'm sorry that everyone in school makes fun of you. i'm sorry that you've never known the love of a woman or man whichever you may prefer, i don't judge.

i'm sorry that no one wants to talk to you on the pens board. I'm sorry that you have to get the attention you so crave from us on this board who are fans of a team with Neanderthal, drug addicted, STD riddled, players.

it's ok... sush, it's ok... there there. we welcome you. seeing you write your meaningless posts calling out ovechkin. it reminds us how grateful we are to be open minded caps fans.

it's ok man... i love you. i embrace you. you don't have to be so angry, so hateful and so mean. we get it, you're jealous of ovi. you wish you could be him and get the attention that he gets for being the world's most dynamic hockey player, we get it.

With that said, i will no longer say another word to you. enjoy your life if you can.

Posted by: natresgroup | November 1, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Oh, natresgroup, thank you so much for making me laugh. You had me at "biglamecindy."

Posted by: dccitizen1 | November 1, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

@natresgroup - man oh man that was classic!

Posted by: Timbo_1 | November 1, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

These pairings make no sense - Carlson was our highest guy in terms of TOI last game, and the ones before that - now all of a sudden he's slated to be on the 3rd pairing? Does.not.compute.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | November 1, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

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