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With Niskanen injured, Capitals recall one of their top prospects from Hershey

With Niskanen injured, Capitals recall one of their top prospects from Hershey

The Capitals will get a look at one of their most promising defensive prospects, but it comes at a high price. Defenseman Madison Bowey was recalled from the Hershey Bears on Saturday and Matt Niskanen was placed on LTIR, the team announced.

Bowey has an impressive preseason and looked as if he had clearly earned a spot on the team, but because of a tight salary cap situation and his waiver exempt status, Bowey started the season in the AHL. Now just five games into the season, the Caps are in need of his services.

Niskanen left Friday’s game against the New Jersey Devils in the second period after appearing to take a slash from forward Jimmy Hayes on the hand. The team has listed his status as week-to-week with an upper body injury

By placing him on LTIR, Niskanen must now miss a minimum of 10 games and 24 days of the NHL season.

The injury is significant for a team that was already thin on the blue line. Niskanen ranked fourth on the team in playing time per game with 21:09. The injury will put further strain on a defensive core that was already relying far too much on its top four. Despite having never played an NHL game, Bowey may be expected to step in and immediately take on a significant role.

Of the seven defensemen the Capitals had on the roster prior to Niskanen’s injury, only two of them, Niskanen and John Carlson, were right-handed shots. It would not be an ideal scenario for a team to play with five left-handed shots on the defense, meaning the team may need Bowey to step into the lineup as early as Saturday’sgame against the Philadelphia Flyers.\


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We have ourselves a goalie rotation in Washington


We have ourselves a goalie rotation in Washington

It’s happened. The Caps no longer seem to have a No. 1 goalie anymore, they have a No. 1 and 1a.

That’s right, we have a goalie rotation in Washington.

“There's no sense riding one,” Barry Trotz said after practice on Monday. “[Braden Holtby] is coming back and looking better every game and [Philipp Grubauer] played pretty well for a long stretch so why not have both of them going?”

Grubauer got the start Sunday in Philadelphia and Holtby is slated to get the start Tuesday against the Dallas Stars. After that we will have to wait and see.


Trotz has no layout for which goalie he wants to start and when in the remaining ten games. He is not thinking about each goalie splitting five games or which one he wants to use more.

Nope. Trotz has just one thing on his mind. It is all about who starts the next game, that’s it.

“I think you just go with a guy that's hot at the time and your team feels comfortable with and go from there,” Trotz said.

So where does this leave the goaltending situation when it comes to the playoffs? A goalie rotation is all well and good in the regular season, but he has to have one starter for the postseason, right?

Not necessarily.


When Trotz was asked if he philosophically believed in having one starter for the playoffs, Trotz initially said he would not answer, but then said, “Why don't you ask Mike Sullivan what he thinks.”

Sullivan, of course, is the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins who has led his team to a Stanley Cup in each of the past two seasons despite turning to both goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray in both seasons.

While Pittsburgh’s goalie rotation was largely based on injury, however, it still provides an example of how using both goalies can work in the playoffs and that seems to be the path the Caps are headed on at the moment.

Said Trotz, “You just have to go with your gut who you think is going to get the job done.”

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NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

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NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

We are down to the home stretch. Only 10 games remain in the Capitals' regular season. Those 10 games will ultimately decide if the Caps finish in first place in the Metropolitan Division and who they will play in the first round of the playoffs.

Washington currently sits in first place in the division, two points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins and four points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. Of those 10 remaining games, only three come against teams currently in playoff position. The most critical of these comes on April 1 when the Caps travel to Pittsburgh in a game that could ultimately decide the division.

The Caps still hold a narrow lead in the standings, but where do they stand in the rankings? See this week's updated NHL Power Rankings here.