RALEIGH, N.C.—The Caps won’t have defenseman Matt Niskanen on Tuesday night against the Hurricanes, and there’s a chance they’ll be without center Nicklas Backstrom, too.
Niskanen did not travel to North Carolina with the team as he nurses an upper body ailment. He did not practice on Sunday or Monday and is listed as day-to-day.
Backstrom, meanwhile, is on the trip but did not come to the rink for the morning skate. Coach Barry Trotz said Backstrom is ill and will be a game-time decision.
RELATED: HOW TO WATCH CAPS-CANES
So, with Niskanen and Backstrom absent at PNC Arena, here’s how Trotz had them lined up:
Ovechkin – Stephenson – Smith-Pelly
Vrana – Kuznetsov – Oshie
Connolly – Eller – Wilson
Burakovsky – Beagle – Chiasson
Djoos – Carlson
Orlov – Chorney
Orpik – Bowey
MORE CAPITALS: CHECK OUT THE LATEST NHL POWER RANKINGS HERE
Some additional notes, quotes and observations:
- If Backstrom can’t go, Chandler Stephenson will replace him on the top line. It would also mean that Andre Burakovsky would draw back into the lineup after sitting out Saturday as a healthy scratch. If Backstrom does play, though, it would appear that Burakovsky will remain the odd forward out.
- Niskanen did not skate in Arlington on Tuesday morning, either. He did, however, receive treatment for his injury, according to a spokesman.
- With Niskanen out, rookie Madison Bowey will return to the lineup after sitting out Saturday as a healthy scratch.
- Christian Djoos took Niskanen’s spot on the second power play unit.
- Braden Holtby is expected to face Cam Ward tonight as the Canes go for their seventh win in a row at home. Overall, Carolina has won four of its last five games and seven of nine.
- Ward, meantime, has won his past six starts, posting a 1.80 goals against average and a .934 save percentage during that span.
- Former Capital and current Cane Justin Williams, as he often did in D.C., dropped a gem of a quote after the Canes' skate:
Canes' Justin Williams played for Caps past two years. On facing Caps tonight: "I alway attribute it to the metaphor that you're seeing your ex-girlfriend. You want to show 'em you still have it. I'm still doing well and you want to prove them wrong and you want to beat them."— Chip Alexander (@ice_chip) January 2, 2018
Williams has seven goals and 17 assists in 38 games.