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As injuries mount, Caps forced to make another call-up


As injuries mount, Caps forced to make another call-up

With injuries mounting, the Capitals recalled Anthony Peluso from the minor league Hershey Bears on Friday afternoon.

Peluso, a tough, 6 foot 3, 225-pound right wing, will join the Caps ahead of their back-to-back games in Edmonton and Calgary on Saturday and Sunday.

The move was necessary because winger Brett Connolly figures to be sidelined this weekend after leaving Thursday’s 6-2 loss in Vancouver in the second period. Connolly absorbed a hard hit from Erik Gudbranson and was placed in the concussion protocol.

Why did Peluso get the call over some of the organization’s prospects? Edmonton has some rugged players up front, like Zack Kassian, Milan Lucic and Patrick Maroon, and Peluso’s presence will add some physicality while also taking some pressure off of Tom Wilson, who scrapped with Gudbranson.

Peluso, 28, appeared in 142 games for the Jets from 2012-13 to 2015-16, scoring four goals and amassing 209 penalty minutes. He signed with Washington this summer and was one of the last players cut in training camp.

To make room for Peluso on the 23-man roster, forward Tyler Graovac (upper body, week-to-week) was placed on injured reserve.

After enjoying a couple of mostly healthy seasons, the Caps now find themselves dealing with some significant injuries.

No. 1 defenseman Matt Niskanen is on long term injured reserve with an upper body injury and winger Andre Burakovsky is out until mid-December because of a broken thumb that required surgery. Add to that Graovac and Connolly, and that’s four players who were in the opening night lineup who won't be available as the Caps attempt to snap a two-game slide against Connor McDavid and Co.

On top of the injuries, Nicklas Backstrom is still a bit of a question mark after missing the Vancouver game with an illness. He’s listed as day-to-day.

If Backstrom is able to suit up, however, the Caps will have 13 healthy forwards, meaning someone will sit.

The Caps did not practice on Friday upon arrivinng in Edmonton.

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Burakovsky may be healthy, but he is still adjusting to the speed of the game


Burakovsky may be healthy, but he is still adjusting to the speed of the game

Andre Burakovsky was considered a key piece of the Capitals offense this year, but a thumb injury in late October forced him out of the lineup until Dec. 8.

But just because he is healthy does not mean he is back to game speed yet and that is evident in his stats. In four games since he has returned, Burakovsky has only one point to show for it, an assist against the Colorado Avalanche.


“Stops and starting and turning feels, I think when I'm skating, I feel like it's a little bit odd,” Burakovsky said after practice on Friday. “But I think stickhandling and passing and shooting is coming back. I had a couple good looks [Thursday against the Boston Bruins], it's just some bad luck. Just sometimes when I skate I can feel like it's still a little bit different.”

When a player misses six weeks like Burakovsky did, he has two hurdles to clear before he is truly “100-percent.” First, he must get healthy. Second, and one aspect that many forget is the process of getting back into game speed.

Burakovsky has done the first part, but he is still working on the second.

“Just like any player coming back, they're not going to be 100-percent all the time in the whole thought process, the whole game process,” Barry Trotz said. “He's missed six weeks. He's in great shape, he's worked hard, he's done all that but it's just getting the timing. You've been skating and working with guys and haven't had six weeks of people tracking you down, leaning on you, putting pressure on your stick and the puck and all that. Those plays are a little harder to make because you haven't had that for six weeks.”


For a player like Burakovsky who wants to produce points, that process can get frustrating. He’s back in the lineup and getting minutes, but not points as he continues to get back up to speed.

“Obviously, I'm trying not to get frustrated, but I'm just a player that's really hard on myself,” he said. “When things aren't going 100-percent the right way, I'm getting hard on myself. I'm trying not to think too much about it, just trying to do all the right things.”

It’s all just part of the process for a player who needs to realize that being healthy doesn’t necessarily mean you’re 100-percent.

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Game 34: Capitals vs. Ducks Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread


Game 34: Capitals vs. Ducks Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Anaheim Ducks

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 8:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Ducks will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Ducks game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

You can also stream the game online with no cable TV subscription on fuboTV (try for free!).


The Capitals (20-12-1) take on the Ducks (14-11-7) Saturday, December 16 at 7:00 p.m. ET at Capital One Arena.


The Capitals-Ducks game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 7:00 p.m. followed by Capitals GameTime at 7:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington following the game for Caps Extra, Caps Overtime at 11:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 12 a.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

7:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
8:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Ducks
10:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
11:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
12:00 a.m. — Caps in 30


The Capitals-Ducks game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

The game is also available to stream, along with all the pregame and postgame shows, on fuboTV (try for free).


Here are the Caps' projected lines:

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Alex Chiasson
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - John Carlson
Christian Djoos - Madison Bowey

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Scratches: T.J. Oshie (upper-body injury), Taylor Chorney


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.