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Caps make call up, minor lineup changes ahead of Thursday's game vs. Islanders

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USA TODAY Sports

Caps make call up, minor lineup changes ahead of Thursday's game vs. Islanders

The Caps made a roster move Thursday morning, promoting Liam O’Brien to the NHL roster while sending Anthony Peluso back to the Hershey Bears.

Here’s how Coach Barry Trotz had his players lined up at KCI:

Forwards

Vrana – Backstrom – Oshie

Ovechkin – Kuznetsov – Smith-Pelly

Stephenson – Eller – Wilson

Walker – Beagle – Chiasson

Defense

Djoos – Carlson

Orpik – Bowey

Orlov – Chorney

Goalies

Holtby

Grubauer

RELATED: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR CAPS vs. ISLES

No major changes, but there are a few things worth pointing out. Among them:

  • Braden Holtby returns to the nets after sitting out in Calgary. He’s 12-3-3 all-time vs. the Islanders with a .925 save percentage and a 2.28 goals against average. He’ll oppose Jaroslav Halak.
  • Defenseman Taylor Chorney returns to the lineup, as well. Aaron Ness, meanwhile, will be a scratch.
  • Nathan Walker also gets back into the lineup, so O’Brien will sit. Walker has played in just two of the previous nine games. “For anybody that gets into the lineup you try to maintain that spot,” Trotz said. “I look at our lines, we’re set on our top two lines—for today, anyways. But we’re going to need some production from our bottom of our lineup.”
  • Although O’Brien won’t face the Islanders, Trotz said he earned the call-up and he’s eager to see what he can do. “I thought he had a really good start to training camp and then he got hurt,” Trotz said. “In some ways he got shortchanged a little bit. He went down to Hershey and played well. He’s playing on both special teams, he’s playing that physical aspect of the game and he’s having some production.”
  • Two trends the Caps want to put an end to vs. the Isles: They’ve allowed the first goal in seven straight games and they’re just 1-3-0 on F Street. “To me, this is sort of a big game,” Trotz said. “We’ve got to start getting some traction at home here.”
  • The Islanders have won 5 of their last 6 games, with John Tavares leading the way. The Isles’ captain has nine goals in the last five contests, including a pair of hat tricks. New York’s power play has been hot, too, converting seven of its last 30 opportunities over the past six games.  “John Tavares has elevated his game,” Trotz said. “They’re playing well. They’ve got a deep team. They’ve got a good balance of speed and skill. They’ve got a little bit of bite to their game. They’re a good hockey team.”
  • Although Matt Niskanen and Tyler Graovac—both out with upper body injuries—have been skating on their own, it doesn’t sound like either is close to returning to the lineup. “They’re progressing day-to-day,” Trotz said. “When I know, you’ll know.” Meanwhile, Brett Connolly (upper body) is feeling better but it remains unclear when he’ll return to the ice.


MORE CAPS: BABY BACKSTROM ON ICE IS CUTENESS OVERLOAD

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: The Caps add two defensemen, problem solved?

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: The Caps add two defensemen, problem solved?

The Capitals got their trade deadline started early by trading for defensemen Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek. Washington has been struggling of late, but do their new acquisitions address the team's weaknesses?

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir evaluate the two trades and talk about where they could fit into the lineup.

You can listen to the latest episode here on the Capitals Faceoff page or with the player below.

Want even more great Capitals coverage? Follow @TarikNBCS and @JJReganNBCS on Twitter!

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Caps make second blue line addition, acquire Jakub Jerabek from Montreal

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USA TODAY Sports

Caps make second blue line addition, acquire Jakub Jerabek from Montreal

The Capitals continued to retool their scuffling blue line on Wednesday, acquiring 26-year-old defenseman Jakub Jerabek from Montreal in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2019.

The move comes a couple of days after GM Brian MacLellan dealt a conditional third-round selection to Chicago for swift skating Michal Kempny.

Both Jerabek and Kempny are left shot, puck-moving defensemen who move well and make crisp outlet passes. Both also hail from the Czech Republic.

RELATED: BRADEN HOLTBY BLAMES HIMSELF FOR TAMPA LOSS

The team sees Jerabek as a No. 5 or 6, I’m told.

On Wednesday, the Caps also officially said goodbye to Taylor Chorney, who was claimed off waivers by Columbus. Chorney will report to the Blue Jackets.

The Caps were off on Wednesday as they made their way Florida for Thursday night’s meeting with the Panthers, so it’s unclear how Coach Barry Trotz intends to deploy his new defensemen.

But it’s probably safe to assume that Kempny will move into a spot within the top four with John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen.

MORE CAPITALS: GET TO KNOW MICHAL KEMPNY

That figures to leave Brooks Orpik and Jerabek on the third pair, while rookies Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey jockey for position as the next man up.

Kempny is expected to make his Caps’ debut on Thursday night.

Is the Caps’ D corps better? Well, that remains to be seen. But it had become clear to MacLellan and Co. in recent weeks that the status quo was not going to cut it. This month, in fact, the team has allowed 39 goals in 10 games. Only the Rangers (40) have allowed more in the same span.

With the trade deadline looming next Monday, the Caps now have roughly $617,000 in cap space, according to www.capfriendly.com, and are at the roster maximum of 23 players. So they would need to make a move in order to add another body.