Capitals All-Star Green: 'I'll be playing'

Capitals vs. Rangers playoff preview

Defenseman says he has recovered

rookie Neuvirth gets start in goal

  • The Rangers' Brian Boyle, left, scores a third-period goal against Capitals goalie Semyon Varlamov in front of Washington's Marcus Johansson (90) and New York's Erik Christensen.
The Rangers' Brian Boyle, left, scores a third-period… (Reuters photo )
April 13, 2011|By Gene Wang | The Washington Post

ARLINGTON, Va. — — Defenseman Mike Green said he would be on the ice for Game 1 of the Washington Capitals' first-round playoff series against the New York Rangers.

Coach Bruce Boudreau didn't go that far, calling the All-Star's availability a "game-time decision."

Green missed the Capitals' final 20 games and 26 of the final 28 with a head injury.

"I feel great and in game-shape ready to play," Green said after practice Tuesday when asked whether he was ready to go. Asked again, he added: "I'll be playing. Expect to see me out there."

Green's status has been fluid throughout his recovery from the concussion. His availability has become a bit more urgent considering puck-moving defenseman Dennis Wideman is out for at least the first round of the postseason with a hematoma and compartment syndrome in his right leg. The Capitals acquired Wideman to help alleviate some of the pressure off the rest of the defense in Green's absence.

"I think he's ready to play," Boudreau said of Green. "It's a question of how he feels tomorrow, and if he's comfortable playing, and if we're comfortable putting him in, I guess. We'll figure it all out tomorrow, but he looks fine out there."

The Capitals worked primarily on special teams Tuesday morning, and Green skated with the top units on both the power play and penalty kill.

In other news, rookie goaltender Michal Neuvirth will get his first postseason start tonight.

"I'm not nervous," Neuvirth, 23, said after practice Tuesday. "I'm pretty excited. It's an interesting game, you know. I've been waiting for this game all season long. It's a good challenge and good opportunity for me."

Neuvirth went 27-12-4 with a 2.45 goals-against average, four shutouts and a .914 save percentage during the regular season.

Backing up Neuvirth will be Semyon Varlamov (11-9-5, 2.23 GAA), who has the most playoff experience among any of the Capitals' goalies.

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