Tuesday, February 8, 2011, 12:54 p.m., Updated at 5:42 p.m.
By Mark Zuckerman and Chase Hughes
CAPITALS PAGE CAPITALS VIDEO
Capitals winger Alexander Semin is expected to play tonight against the San Jose Sharks after a 12-game absence due to a groin injury, a potential boost for a Washington team that has struggled to score goals at a consistent rate.
The Caps won't, however, have All-Star defenseman Mike Green on the ice. Though Green is feeling better after getting struck in the right ear Sunday by a slapshot, the club decided to sit him for at least one game for precautionary reasons.
Green was not diagnosed with a concussion, according to Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau, and he did participate in this morning's skate at Kettler Iceplex. But the team didn't want to take any chances, especially with three off-days coming up before Washington returns to play Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings.
"I assume that he'll be ready for practice Thursday and the game Saturday," Boudreau said. "It's just with these things nowadays, you just want to be overly cautious. There's still a lot of games, and he's such an important factor. We don't want to lose him for any length of time."
Green's absence could be offset by the return of Semin, who is third on the team with 35 points but was on a 14-game scoring drought before the lingering groin injury sidelined him last month. He practiced several times in the last two weeks to test his legs, and the team awarded him with a one-year contract extension worth 6.7 million on January 27th while he was still recovering.
Boudreau said he'll monitor Semin's stamina on the ice tonight in deciding how much playing time he'll get.
"It all depends on how I feel he's going," the coach said. "If all of a sudden a guy's going great in the first period, you're not going to hold him back. But if he's tentative and his passing or his competing is a bit off, you probably don't put him in situations you'd normally put him in."
With Semin's return, the Capitals assigned center Jay Beagle to the Hershey Bears of the AHL. The move saves the team some salary cap space for at least a few days. Boudreau said Beagle could return next week when the team begins a five-game road trip.