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Everything you need to know about Caps-Rangers

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Everything you need to know about Caps-Rangers

NEW YORK - News, notes and quotes as the Capitals and Rangers tee it up for Game 1 of their second-round playoff series tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Madison Square Garden:

Marty for Zuc: With Rangers top-line right wing Mats Zuccarello reportedly out for the entire second round with a head injury, 39-year-old veteran Marty St. Louis will take his place on a top line with Rick Nash and Derrick Brassard.

St. Louis had 21 goals in the regular season but was held to just one assist against the Penguins in the first round. In 93 career playoff games he has 41 goals and 43 assists for 84 points.

St. Louis has terrorized the Caps in his 16-year career with 31 goals and 53 assists for 84 points in 77 career games against Washington.

“You can plug him anywhere in the lineup the way he competes,” said caps defenseman Brooks Orpik, who will be playing in his 100th career playoff game tonight. “He’s always kind of had a chip on his shoulder. I remember when he was in [University of] Vermont, people said he was too small to play in college and he still has a little bit of that left in him, proving people wrong.”

St. Louis, who is generously listed at 5-foot-8, 180 pounds, said he’s looking forward to facing Orpik, who is 6-foot-2, 219. Well, sort of.

“He’s got experience, he’s a physical player, good stick,” St. Louis. “He’s a guy that defends well.”

No rest for weary: The Capitals will be playing in their eighth game in 17 days, while the Rangers will be playing for the first time in six days. Will it make a difference?

“We earned that rest and it let some guys get back to where they need to be,” St. Louis said.

One of those players is smooth skating defenseman Kevin Klein, who has not played since an Alex Ovechkin slapshot broke his left arm on March 11.

“We’re pretty antsy,” defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. “You’re watching these series go six or seven games and you’re watching the intensity. We’re happy the game is finally here.”

Friendly foes: Capitals right wing Tom Wilson and Rangers right wing J.T. Miller were linemates together with the OHL Plymouth Whalers in 2011-12. Miller was taken by the Rangers with the 15th pick overall in the 2011 NHL draft. Wilson was taken by the Caps with the 16th overall pick one year later.

Miller said he remains good friends with Wilson and took exception to Wilson being labeled a dirty player.

“No, he plays a physical game, he plays hard,” Miller said. “When he gets a chance to be on the ice he’s trying to make his presence known. He likes to lay the big hits, but he’s a good player and I don’t expect him to slow down at all.”

Big bang theory: After the Caps and Isles combined for 630 hits in Round 1 it is highly unlikely this series ramps up to that same kind of physicality. The Rangers delivered 172 hits in their five-game series against the Penguins, while the Caps dished out 313 body blows.

“We’ve got a big group of forwards and you ask our D, if they get the puck and get hit all the time they’re going to get worn out,” said right wing Jason Chimera, whose 21 hits rank fourth on the Caps behind Orpik [41], Alex Ovechkin [31] and Wilson [21]. “Look at [Islanders defensemen Nick] Leddy and [Johnny] Boychuk. They weren’t jumping up in the rush because they were so tired of getting hit. You want to impose your will on guys like that and you want to hit some of their better players like [defensemen Keith] Yandle and [Dan] Girardi and [Ryan] McDonagh.”

Fehr update: Caps center Eric Fehr, knocked out of Game 3 against the Islanders with an upper body check suffered on a check by Kyle Okposo, skated on his own Thursday and Caps coach Barry Trotz said he's "very close" to returning to the lineup. 

MORE CAPITALS: Trotz compares Ovechkin to Rangers great

Here are projected lineups for Game 1:

CAPITALS

Forward lines

Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – Joel Ward

Marcus Johnasson – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Jason Chimera

Andre Burakovsky – Jay Beagle – Troy Brouwer

Curtis Glencross – Brooks Laich – Tom Wilson

Defense pairings

Brooks Orpik – John Carlson

Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen

Tim Gleason – Mike Green

Goaltenders

Braden Holtby – Justin Peters

Scratches: C Michael Latta, D Dmitry Orlov

Injuries: Eric Fehr [upper body, day-to-day]

RANGERS

Forward lines

Rick Nash – Derrick Brassard – Marty St. Louis

Chris Kreider – Derek Stepan – J.T. Miller

Carl Hagelin – Kevin Hayes – Jesper Fast

James Sheppard – Dominic Moore – Tanner Glass

Defense pairings

Ryan McDonagh – Dan Girardi

Marc Staal – Dan Boyle

Keith Yandle – Kevin Klein

Goaltenders

Henrik Lundqvist – Cam Talbot

Scratches: D Matt Hunwick, D Chris Summers

Injuries: RW Mats Zuccarello [head, indefinite]

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Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

When the Capitals acquired defenseman Michal Kempny on Monday, that put the team at the maximum of 23 players on the roster including eight defenseman.

Another move seemed likely and the Caps made it on Tuesday by placing veteran blueliner Taylor Chorney on waivers.

Teams now will have 24 hours to potentially claim Chorney. Should he clear at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, it is expected that he will be sent to the Hershey Bears of the AHL. Whether he is claimed or sent to Hershey, his entire $800,000 cap hit will no longer count against the Capitals' salary.

One important thing to note, however, is that placing Chorney on waivers was not required in order for Washington to remain under the salary cap.

Having eight defensemen would mean scratching two every game — assuming the team does not dress seven and after that failed experiment in last year's playoffs, why would they — which means it would be a struggle to make sure everyone gets consistent playing time in the final weeks of the season.

Perhaps placing Chorney on waivers is the team trying to get him more playing time to keep him sharp in case the team suffers injuries on the blue line and he is called upon in the playoffs.

Or perhaps it could mean something else.

RELATED: RANKING THE CAPITALS' TOP PROSPECTS

Chorney played on Feb. 15, but that was during the mentor's trip. Barry Trotz's policy for those trips is to get everyone in at least one of those two games. Before that, Chorney had not played since Jan. 2. It certainly seems like the team was comfortable with him being the designated No. 7 and was not all that concerned about getting him regular playing time before now.

When asked if the Kempny trade would mean any roster moves, Trotz said Monday that he was not sure and hinted that perhaps more moves could be coming from general manager Brian MacLellan. Moving Chorney's salary off the books does not clear much cap room, but it does clear some.

Perhaps MacLellan has another move up his sleeve before Monday's trade deadline.

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Michal Kempny excited to move from last place Chicago to first place Caps

Michal Kempny excited to move from last place Chicago to first place Caps

On Sunday, Michal Kempny was a defenseman struggling for a spot in the lineup for a team poised to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008. On Monday, he became potentially an important piece on the roster of the first place Capitals.

The last few days have been quite the whirlwind for Kempny who tallied an assist for Chicago on Saturday in a 7-1 blowout against what is now his current team. While the Blackhawks may have gotten the better of Washington that night, Kempny is excited about the postseason opportunity that now lies in front of him.

"Nobody knows what's happening in Chicago, but I'm really happy and I'm really glad that I can be here," Kempny told reporters on Tuesday after his first skate with the team. "There is option of play a playoff and I'm very happy for it."

RELATED: WHERE MICHAL KEMKPNY FITS IN THE CAPS' LINEUP

The 27-year-old Czech defenseman played only 31 games for the Blackhawks this season, but considering Washington's need to shore up its defense before the trade deadline and the team's willingness to give up a third-round pick to acquire him, it is likely he will have a much more significant role with the Caps.

"I thought that I [was] going to get more space on the ice and more ice time, but I didn't play more than half games," Kempny said of his decision to originally sign with Chicago. "But now I'm here and I'm really glad that I'm here. Washington is amazing city and great organization and I hope I will get a chance to access myself on the ice more than in Chicago."

Kempny will not play in Tuesday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but did say he expects to play Thursday when the team visits the Florida Panthers.

When he does get into the lineup, it is unclear just how big a role he will play initially or how the team foresees utilizing him going forward. He is a left-shot defenseman and did tell reporters he prefers to play on that side. It seems unlikely the team would acquire him just to put him on his offside.

As of now, however, everything regarding his role in Washington is up in the air.

"I need everything settle down a little bit," he said. "New teammates, new people around here."

MORE CAPITALS: MEET MICHAL KEMPNY