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The Caps are rolling at home, the power play is surging and other morning skate notes as the Flames visit Monday

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The Caps are rolling at home, the power play is surging and other morning skate notes as the Flames visit Monday

The Caps will look to build on Saturday’s strong performance vs. Minnesota when Johnny Gaudreau and the Flames come calling Monday night at Capital One Arena.

Here’s how Washington is expected to line up:

Forwards
Stephenson – Backstrom – Oshie
Ovechkin – Kuznetsov – Smith-Pelly
Vrana – Eller – Wilson
Connolly – Beagle – Chiasson
Extra: Walker

Defense
Orpik – Carlson
Orlov – Niskanen
Chorney – Bowey
Extra: Ness

So, yeah, no changes up front or on the backend.

RELATED: FLAMES HEAD TO WASHINGTON IN STYLE

Now for some notes, quotes and observations from the morning skate:

  • Braden Holtby (11-4-0/2.56 gaa/.921 Sv%) is expected to start for the Caps. He’s won seven of his last nine starts and his 11 Ws are tied for third most in the NHL. The Flames are expected to start Mike Smith (10-6-0/2.70 gaa/.919 Sv%).
  • Including their win over Philipp Grubauer and Caps on Oct. 29, the Flames have won six of eight games to move into third place in the Pacific Division.
  • Leading the way for the Flames is Johnny Gaudreau, who has six goals and 10 assists during in the Flames’ last eight games. Gaudreau will likely match up against the Nicklas Backstrom line. Here’s what T.J. Oshie had to say about facing Gaudreau (it comes after he addresses the power play, which I’ll get to in a second.)
  • One thing that’s been pretty consistent for the Caps over the past couple of weeks has been the power play. After a bit of a dry spell, the unit has been (finally) getting some opportunities—and it’s been cashing in. Over the last five games, in fact, the power play has scored six times on 22 opportunities. Oshie has three of those goals, while Kuznetsov has chipped in with a pair.
  • The Flames, by the way, have the NHL’s worst penalty kill at 70.6-percent.
  • The Caps will be going for their sixth straight win at home against Calgary. In the previous five games on F Street, they’ve outscored their opponents by a combined 16-8.
  • Since Matt Niskanen returned to the lineup vs. the Predators, John Carlson’s ice time has come down to a more manageable figure. Carlson had been leading the league at 27:20 prior to No. 2’s return. Over the past three games, however, he’s skated 25:26, 24:53 and 24:55.
  • Game day skates typically begin around 10:15 when the Caps are at home. Sometimes scratches, the goalies and players toward the bottom of the lineup go out early to get a little extra work. On Monday, star center Evgeny Kuznetsov was on the ice at least 15 minutes early, working one-on-one with Trotz. Kuznetsov has five goals on the season but none at even strength in 11 games.  
  • Defenseman Christian Djoos hasn’t been on the ice since suffering an upper body injury in Nashville. Trotz did, however, say that the rookie is feeling better and starting to ramp up his level of activity. The coach also said he’s hopeful to see Djoos on the ice this week.


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When will T.J. Oshie return to the Caps' lineup?

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When will T.J. Oshie return to the Caps' lineup?

T.J. Oshie will miss a sixth straight game when Washington hosts Anaheim on Saturday night.

The Caps’ star winger, however, continues to make progress in his recovery from the upper body injury he suffered Dec. 4 against San Jose.

On Friday, he joined his teammates for the first half of practice while wearing a non-contact jersey. He left the ice, though, once the more vigorous work began.

RELATED: BRUINS COACH TAKES ISSUE WITH TOM WILSON COMING TO THE DEFENSE OF DMITRY ORLOV

Coach Barry Trotz said Oshie’s early departure was planned.

“He skated today [but] until he does a full practice he will not play,” Trotz said. “He’s going through the protocols and all that.”

The Caps are not scheduled to practice on Sunday so the next opportunity for Oshie to complete a full session will be on Monday morning prior to the team leaving for a three-game road trip that will make stops in Dallas, Arizona and Las Vegas.

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Assuming Oshie receives medical clearance in the coming days and there are no further injuries, Trotz will have a tough choice to make once No. 77 is ready. Someone has to come out. But who? Chandler Stephenson? Devante Smith-Pelly? Someone else?

“That’s what you want; you want internal competition,” Trotz said. “I don’t know who would come out yet when T.J. does come in. But they’ll let me know.”

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Bruins coach takes issue with Tom Wilson coming to the defense of Dmitry Orlov

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Bruins coach takes issue with Tom Wilson coming to the defense of Dmitry Orlov

Tom Wilson is one of those players people love to have on their team, but others hate to play against.

An incident in the second period of Washington's 5-3 win over the Boston Bruins on Thursday has once again drawn the ire of an opponent.

With the Bruins attacking, a deflection by Patrice Bergeron hit off the post and out of play. As the puck was going out, Brad Marchand gave a cross-check to the back of Dmitry Orlov.

Orlov took exception. So did Wilson.

You can see the replay here.

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With Orlov and Marchand engaged in a shoving match, Wilson comes in to defend his teammate. That did not sit well with Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy.

“Well, I voiced my opinion at the end of the period. I think it’s wrong and to me, to just put two guys into the box in that situation when a third guy comes in, there should have been an additional call,” Cassidy said after the game, per Bruins Daily.

“That’s the way I felt about it, they didn’t see it that way. Clearly, two guys, Orlov and Marchy [Marchand] were battling and for him [Wilson] to come in is unnecessary, to say the least in that situation. But their job is to police it on the ice, and in that particular instance, that’s the way the saw it and that’s the way it went.”

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Perhaps Cassidy was just fishing for an extra minor to Wilson, but it is probably no coincidence he said "a third guy comes in" when referencing the play.

There is a rule in the NHL against a "third man in" that states that a misconduct penalty will be assessed on "any player who is the first to intervene (third man in) in an altercation already in progress," but the term "altercation" falls under the terms of fighting in the rule book. Orlov and Marchand were assessed matching minors for cross-checking. The fact that the referees determined no fight was in progress means there was no "altercation" and the third man rule does not apply.

Marchand and Wilson were not done with each other and both players were assessed 10-minute misconducts late in the third period, but by then the game was already well in hand for Washington.