BALLSTON, Va. - Washington Capitals forward Mike Knuble has been a staple of the team's lineup for the better part of three years. Yet, based on Thursday's morning skate at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, he will be a healthy scratch against the Winnipeg Jets.
Knuble took part in extra work with John Erskine and Michal Neuvirth Thursday. It will be his first healthy scratch since April 9, 2010, when he sat out at the end of the regular season after the Caps had wrapped up a playoff spot.
This time, however, Knuble will be a healthy scratch based on performance. Knuble politely declined to comment Thursday, but head coach Dale Hunter explained the reasoning behind his decision.
"It's always hard to do, but we put [Jay Beagle] in [for] more speed and Mike hasn't scored in a while," Hunter said. "We figured [we would] get him up top [in the press box] and watch the game."
In 53 games this season, Knuble has just three goals, 11 points and is a team-worst minus-14. Knuble has not scored since December 5, a span of 27 games, and his streak of eight consecutive seasons with at least 20 goals is all but over.
"I've been through it and if you've played hockey you've been through it," Hunter said. "You don't like it and that's the way you want the guy to react. You can't say, 'Oh, it's fine.' He doesn't like it, but it's part of hockey."
In other news, Tomas Vokoun will start in goal for Washington after a 42-save shutout against the Florida Panthers Tuesday.