Mike Knuble expected to miss Game 4

Updated: April 20, 2011, 3:05 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

NEW YORK -- Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau wouldn't say whether forward Mike Knuble will play Wednesday night in Game 4 of Washington's Eastern Conference quarterfinal against the New York Rangers. But all signs point to Knuble sitting out.

A number of Capitals players said Knuble isn't expected to play because of an undisclosed injury. And winger Eric Fehr indicated he would be in the lineup for the first time in the playoffs.

Knuble
Knuble

It's unknown exactly how Knuble was injured or the extent of the injury, which has prevented him from practicing with the team since Game 3, which was Sunday. What is known is his value to the Capitals: He's a vital part of a penalty-killing unit that ranked second during the regular season and has allowed just one power-play goal through the first three games of the playoff series.

Knuble is also part of the Capitals' power play and has been a strong presence in front of the net, playing mostly with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.

"That's usually where the goals are scored and Mike leads the way in that department," said forward Brooks Laich, who likely will see more power-play time in Knuble's absence.

"He's also a big factor on the penalty kill and five-on-five and he really embodies a lot of how we want to play around here. We'll have to step up while Mike's not in the lineup," Laich said.

Line rushes during the morning skate indicated Jason Chimera would take Knuble's place playing with Ovechkin and Backstrom, and that Fehr would move onto Chimera's spot on the third line.

"I think both [Knuble and Chimera] go hard to the net," Backstrom said. "[Chimera] brings some speed to our line."

As for Fehr, Laich is hoping for a repeat performance from early March, when Fehr returned to the lineup after 22 games and scored twice against the Edmonton Oilers.

"He's a big body, shoots the puck really well and I think he really brings us some depth scoring," Laich said of the 6-foot-4, 210-pound forward. "He's really going to be excited I think to be back in and playing again and hopefully he has another good game."

Fehr said he was looking to get into the game quickly -- perhaps throw a hit, take a hit -- to get accustomed to the speed of playoff hockey.

"I'm going to try and keep my feet moving, try to keep up with the pace, it's pretty quick out there," he said.

"The game looks a lot slower up there [in the press box] so you can kind of see things developing," Fehr said of the view from upstairs. "Obviously, when you get on the ice it's a little bit different but at least you can envisage the plays that were going on in the previous games."

The Rangers are not expected to have any changes in their lineup Wednesday night.

Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.com.