News, notes and quotes as the Capitals prepare to take on the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Thursday night at Madison Square Garden [6:30 pregame, CSN]:
No Fehr: Caps center Eric Fehr, sidelined with an upper body injury since Game 3 against the Islanders on April 19, skated with conditioning coach Mark Nemish while the Capitals practiced at Kettler on Wednesday and is not expected to play in the series opener.
No Zuc: The Rangers will be without top-line right wing Mats Zuccarello, who was struck in the head by a Ryan McDonagh shot in Game 5 against the Penguins. Marty St. Louis will replace Zuccarello on the top line. With Zuccarello sidelined indefinitely, James Sheppard will move into the lineup on a fourth line, while Jesper Fast will replace St. Louis on the third line.
Stopping speed: The Caps’ top priority against the Rangers will be slowing their speed, which is generated by quick outlet passes from their defenemen.
To combat that speed, look for the Caps to employ a two-man forecheck, with the third forward playing a defensive safety valve in the high slot.
“Our third-man high can take away their speed,” Caps goaltender Braden Holtby said. “Obviously, they are good at it and we’re going to have to be at the top of our game to shut it down.”
Here are projected lineups for Game 1:
Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – Joel Ward
Marcus Johnasson – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Jason Chimera
Andre Burakovsky – Jay Beagle – Troy Brouwer
Curtis Glencross – Brooks Laich – Tom Wilson
Brooks Orpik – John Carlson
Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen
Tim Gleason – Mike Green
Braden Holtby – Justin Peters
Scratches: C Michael Latta, D Dmitry Orlov
Injuries: Eric Fehr [upper body, day-to-day]
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
Ryan McDonagh – Dan Girardi
Marc Staal – Dan Boyle
Keith Yandle – Kevin Klein
Henrik Lundqvist – Cam Talbot
Scratches: D Matt Hunwick, D Chris Summers
Injuries: RW Mats Zuccarello [head, indefinite]