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John Carlson returns for Caps on Friday

John Carlson, Mike Richards

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson (74) and teammate Mike Richards (10) congratulate each other as time expires in a 3-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes, on Monday, Feb. 22, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


With the East’s top seed already clinched,* the Washington Capitals don’t have a ton to play for.

Instead, it’s all about “tuning up,” so in Friday’s case, that means taking on a hot New Jersey Devils team while integrating John Carlson back into the lineup.

The underrated defenseman has been sidelined since late February with a “lingering” lower-body injury. Before you ask, the Capitals already said that they don’t want to rush him back into the lineup.

You don’t want him to be too rusty, either, so that’s sort of the chance you take.

Caps fans are excited to get him back, no doubt:

* - And let’s be honest, the Presidents’ Trophy pretty close to guaranteed ...