Mike Green, John Carlson

Just in time: Mike Green looking set to play on Saturday for Caps

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Things are looking up for the Washington Capitals and their injury-addled blue line.

The Caps are currently without Dennis Wideman, Tom Poti, and two-time Norris Trophy nominee Mike Green, but Green is recovering well from his concussion and appears to be ready to play in the team’s final game on Saturday.

CSN Washington’s Ben Raby was at Caps practice this morning as they prepare for their game tonight against Florida, and while Green won’t play tonight, coach Bruce Boudreau sounds positive that Green will get one game in before the playoffs start next week.

“I feel really good,” Green said this morning. “Back to 100 percent [and] ready to go.”

Green has missed 18 straight games and 24 of 26 overall since blocking a shot by Brooks Orpik in a Feb. 6 game against Pittsburgh. Green returned to the Caps lineup for a Feb. 12 game against the Los Angeles Kings and then played two shifts against the Rangers Feb. 25 before he was hit by New York’s Derek Stepan. Green has not played since.

“It will be nice to just get back in a game and get a feel for things,” Green said. “It’s different obviously than practicing, but I’m in shape, ready to go, and expecting to play.”

Without Green in the lineup, the Caps dealt for Wideman at the trade deadline. Wideman has since gone out of the lineup with a hematoma in his leg. Tom Poti has been dealing with nagging injuries for most of the season and a timetable on his return isn’t clear.

Getting Green back and playing is a huge boost to the Caps regardless of what you make of Green’s skills defensively. The Caps have shown this year that their dedication as a team to defense has been a boon to everyone along their blue line and their goaltending corps. Getting Green’s offensive touch back in their lineup in time for the playoffs makes for a huge boost.

With Wideman eventually joining him in the top six (ideally), the chances of there being some big offensive games with the Caps increases greatly. Of course, that could mean those guys are helping fill the net for the Caps or getting lit up on their own defensively. We’ve yet to see those guys on the ice in the same game so if the Caps dedication to defense is tried and true, they can survive having a pair of guys with some legendary defensive miscues in the lineup at the same time. That still doesn’t mean we’re curious to see how it plays out though.

Vigneault: ‘After three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention’

Alain Vigneault
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Alain Vigneault has maintained for much of the season that the New York Rangers needed to play better.

The head coach said it a week ago, after the Blueshirts had beaten the Predators, 3-0, despite getting outshot, 31-19.

He’d said it a couple of weeks before that, after they’d beaten the Hurricanes in very similar fashion. (Final score: 3-0. Shots: 33-23 for Carolina.)

But as long as the Rangers kept winning, it was tough, according to Vigneault, to get the message across.

“Sometimes, the results might be going your way, so when you’re pointing out certain things, it might be a little bit more challenging for them to understand because the results are so positive,” Vigneault said, per the New York Post.

“But after three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention.”

Derek Stepan‘s injury — he’ll miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs — has no doubt captured their attention as well. (Oscar Lindberg will center Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast tonight at home to Carolina.)

The Rangers also play Wednesday, in Brooklyn against the Islanders (on NBCSN).

Benn, Holtby and Galchenyuk are NHL’s three stars of the week

Cory Schneider, Alex Galchenyuk ,
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Stars winger Jamie Benn, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and Canadiens center Alex Galchenyuk have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.

From NHL.com:

Benn shared the League lead in goals (4) and points (6) as the Stars (19-5-0, 38 points) won two of three games to continue their best start to a season in the franchise’s 48-year history.

Holtby posted a 4-0-0 record with a 1.75 goals-against average, .945 save percentage and one shutout to backstop the Capitals (17-5-1, 35 points) to the top of the Metropolitan Division standings.

Galchenyuk tied for first in the NHL with four goals and added one assist to help the Canadiens (18-4-3, 39 points) earn five of a possible six points and reclaim first place in the League standings.

As much as the injuries to Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher have been frustrating for the Canadiens, those are short-term issues that should be forgotten soon enough. Galchenyuk’s play, in contrast, is reason for long-term optimism. The 21-year-old is trending towards becoming the elite No. 1 center the Habs have needed so badly. He’s not there yet, but when’s all said and done, he could turn out to be the best forward (or player, period) taken in the 2012 draft.

Stepan to miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs


Derek Stepan is out 4-6 weeks with broken ribs, the New York Rangers announced today.

Stepan was hurt Friday on a controversial hit by Boston’s Matt Beleskey. The Bruins’ forward did not receive any supplemental discipline for the check, despite admitting it was “maybe…a little bit late.”

At any rate it’s a big loss for the Rangers, who suddenly find themselves on a three-game losing streak. Considering the timeline, New York could be without one of its top centers for 12-18 games, give or take.

The Rangers host Carolina tonight.

Related: Yep, Alain Vigneault went there — ‘I remember Aaron Rome in this building’

Price to miss minimum six weeks, so no Winter Classic for him

Carey Price,
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Carey Price will miss a minimum of six weeks with a lower-body injury, the Montreal Canadiens announced today.

That means Price will miss the Winter Classic against the Bruins on New Year’s Day. The 28-year-old goalie has only appeared in 12 games this season.

On the bright side, the reigning Hart Trophy winner will not require surgery. And considering the Habs have already built up a 13-point playoff cushion in the standings, well, if something like this were going to happen during the season, now is as good a time as any.

Related: The latest on Price’s injury