News and notes from Kettler Capitals Iceplex, where the Capitals are preparing for Tuesday night’s showdown against the Winnipeg Jets at Verizon Center:
No Ward, Laich: Joel Ward remains sidelined by a deeply bruised left knee and did not practice. Brooks Laich also sat out with a groin injury. Both posed for the team photo taken before practice.
Ward has not practiced since blocking a shot by Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Sami Salo on April 7. Oates said he expects to have Ward available for the start of the playoffs, sooner if possible.
“Obviously, we thought he’d probably be back by now; it just hasn’t gone away,” Oates said. "He’s got to be able to practice a couple of days and get his conditioning [back]. It’s been too long a time. He needs to feel pain free and be able to skate.”
Clinching scenarios: The Caps’ magic number to clinch the Southeast Division title is four. That means any combination of four points gained by the Caps or lost by the Jets clinches the division title for Washington. In other words, a regulation win by the Caps Tuesday night clinches the division, not matter what the Jets do tonight against Buffalo. After tonight the Jets will have two games remaining while the Caps will have three.
Stamkos within two: Alex Ovechkin’s lead in the race to win his third Rocket Richard Trophy was cut to two goals on Sunday when Steven Stamkos netted his 28th goal of the season on Sunday. Both players have three games to play. Ovechkin won the award in 2008 and 2009. Stamkos won it in 2010 and 2012.
Projected lineup: Here’s a look at the Caps’ line and defense pairings from today:
Marcus Johansson-Nicklas Backstrom-Alex Ovechkin
Martin Erat-Mike Ribeiro-Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera-Mathieu Perreault-Eric Fehr
Aaron Volpatti/Wojtek Wolski-Matt Hendricks-Jay Beagle
Karl Alzner-Mike Green
John Erskine-John Carlson
Jack Hillen-Steve Oleksy
Jeff Schultz-Tom Poti