Capitals forward Joel Ward traded in his light blue jersey early in Monday’s practice for a white one. That’s actually a step in the right direction for a player who suffered a left knee contusion on April 7 against Tampa Bay. Ward hopes to be back in the lineup for the Stanley Cup playoff opener on Thursday against the New York Rangers.

“I’m hoping to. Obviously we’ll see how these next couple days go,” Ward said. “I think my mind feels pretty good. It’s just I want to get in with the guys and kind of muck it up a little bit. I think the next couple days will be a pretty good test.”

Caps coach Adam Oates has maintained all along that Ward would need multiple practices before he’d feel comfortable playing Ward. And even when he does get back into the lineup – a given, according to Oates – Ward’s minutes will have to be monitored. But first things first. And there are two more days of practice to get ready for Thursday.

“I don’t want to put him in without getting any time on the ice,” Oates said. “I think it’s been too long.”

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