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Thursday, January 21, 2010
Pregame report from Mellon Arena

By Pierre LeBrun

PITTSBURGH -- Tonight's big rematch between the Capitals and Penguins could be missing some big names.

Star blueliners Mike Green (undisclosed) of the Caps and Sergei Gonchar (lower body) of the Penguins are both game-time decisions.

Gonchar hasn't been the same since blocking a shot Dec. 30 at New Jersey.

"He'll be game-time, but it looks like he'll be ready to go as well," Pens coach Dan Bylsma said.

Green didn't practice Wednesday, although he did skate this morning at Mellon Arena.

"We'll see," Green said this morning when asked if he was playing tonight. "As far as right know, yeah [he's playing]. But we'll see."

Neither Green nor Caps coach Bruce Boudreau would say exactly what's ailing the stud blueliner. He gingerly took off his equipment after speaking to reporters. Washington Post beat writer Tarik El-Bashir believes Green was banged up after taking a big hit from Detroit's Todd Bertuzzi on Tuesday night.

Asked why he didn't practice Wednesday, Green smiled and said, "I don't know, I just didn't feel like it."

This game not only feels like a playoff matchup, but the players are hiding injuries like it's May, as well!

Star goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (fractured left ring finger) remains out and is day to day. Fleury took some shots before practice Thursday, using an enhanced catching glove. Brent Johnson gets the start in goal for Pittsburgh, facing his former team. Jose Theodore goes for the Caps. Neither goalie speaks to the media on game days, so we'll just assume they're both excited.

Also out for Pittsburgh are forwards Max Talbot (lower body) and Pascal Dupuis (face injury). For the Caps, defensemen John Erskine and Brian Pothier, both day to day with upper body injuries, are also out for tonight. World junior hero John Carlson was called up from the AHL. And, of course, rookie netminder Semyon Varlamov remains out and appears to have suffered a setback in his recovery.

"Well, it was originally his groin and then he hurt his knee, so that's two different injuries," Boudreau said. "It's exactly the same thing that happened last year, but I'm still thinking he'll be fine by the beginning of February."