Capitals' Hamrlik to return tonight

Capitals' Hamrlik to return tonight
December 9, 2011, 4:24 pm
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Barring a sudden change of plans, Capitals defenseman Roman Hamrlik will return to the lineup tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs after missing the previous four games with what team called a lower body injury.

"Roman's a veteran," Capitals coach Dale Hunter said. "He's been around a long time. We need him back in there. He plays good defense, moves the puck really well and we need him to block shots. He's one of the best shot blockers, so he should give us a lift tonight."

Hamrlik, who has one goal and is a team-worst minus-10, is expected to replace defenseman Jeff Schultz, who saw just 3:55 of ice time in Wednesday nights 5-3 win in Ottawa.

It is what it is, Hamrlik said of his early struggles. I know I can be better and focus on playing better defense and get my game back. Ive been in this situation before.

Hamrlik, 37, said his lower body injury was not serious and that he could have played if it was April and not December.

I didnt want to push it, he said. It would be different if it was the playoffs. I would probably go and play. I want to be 100 percent and it feels like it and Im ready to go.

Hamrlik is expected to play with either John Erskine or rookie Dmitry Orlov.