Sami Kapanen

was back on the ice yesterday and expects to be available tomorrow for Game 1 in Washington.

Kapanen missed some practice time and the final two games of the regular season with the flu and sinus problems. Allergic to cherry blossoms, Sami?

"I'm allergic to the postseason," Kapanen quipped. "I'm not talking about it. I didn't feel that good. I'm excited going into the playoffs and feeling good now. I should be fine. I felt good today."

With Kapanen and Danny Briere back in the lineup, someone has to exit. Kapanen spent the final month of the regular season splitting time on the third and fourth lines, with the emphasis on the latter.

"It's something that has become my role, a fill-in guy," Kapanen said. "If someone goes down, I will play a little more. When everyone is healthy, it's the fourth line. I don't think that will change for the playoffs."

Kapanen is an integral part of the Flyers' penalty kill and has 71 games of playoff experience. Jim Dowd has 82.

"I hope to be there," Kapanen said. "At the end of the day, it's a coaches' decision. We're healthy as a team right now, so the competition for ice time is good. Wait and see what's going to happen."

Loose pucks. Jason Smith (right-shoulder injury), who missed practice again, said he was "hopeful" to play in Game 1. "I can't remember the last time I missed two practices." It was back in late December and early January, when he missed four games with a right shin bruise . . . Briere (left-knee sprain), said he felt more comfortable and better on the ice. He took contact without incident . . . Derian Hatcher (fractured right tibia) remains doubtful. "It's not there yet," he said. . . . Coach John Stevens said he would likely not go with seven defensemen to begin the series as he intended to roll four lines.

Caps defensemen Shaone Morrisonn (upper body) and Jeff Schultz (undisclosed) practiced. GM George McPhee told the Washington Post today he did not want them playing unless they were 100 percent. The Caps recalled defenseman Sami Lepisto just in case. "It's a day-to-day type thing, and I don't know if they'll be ready for Friday," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It's more aches and pains. If they are ready, they'll be playing. If they aren't, then we're very comfortable with Steve [Eminger], who has played very good. And Sami has played very good when he's come up."
- Tim Panaccio