They are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings, but the sun is shining a little brighter inside Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Friday.
Defenseman Mike Green skated for a fourth straight day and the chains have been loosened from Alex Ovechkin, who will play his first game since Jan. 22 when the Caps visit the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday in a rare 2 p.m. puck drop.
Green skated in full gear for about 25 minutes for the second straight day and is looking at another 2-4 weeks before returning to the lineup from his Jan. 17 sports hernia surgery.
Ovechkin was back on a top line with center Marcus Johansson and right wing Alex Semin. Brooks Laich centered a second line with Matt Hendricks on his left and Troy Brouwer on his right.
Mathieu Perreault dropped from the top line to the third line with wingers Jason Chimera and Mike Knuble, and newcomer Keith Aucoin practiced on a fourth line with center Jeff Halpern and right wing Joel Ward.
Whats that mean for Joel Rechlicz and Jay Beagle, who alternated with Aucoin and Ward on the fourth line? It could mean a seat in the press box for both of them if coach Dale Hunter wants to back off on seeking retribution on Rene Bourque.
One lineup decision you can bet your house on is the return of Tomas Vokoun, who sat out Wednesday's 4-2 loss against the Florida Panthers.