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:
Vrana – Backstrom – Oshie
Ovechkin – Kuznetsov – Smith-Pelly
Stephenson – Eller – Wilson
Walker – Beagle – Chiasson
Djoos – Carlson
Orpik – Bowey
Orlov – Chorney
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.
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