Already without top-pair defensemen John Carlson and Brooks Orpik, the Capitals learned Wednesday night they will be without third-line center Jay Beagle for “an extended period of time” with an upper body injury that will require surgery, according to head coach Barry Trotz.
The Capitals also lost top-line center Nicklas Backstrom to an undisclosed injury in their 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres, but Trotz said Backstrom will travel with the team to Raleigh and is hoping to have him in the lineup Thursday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Trotz said Michael Latta, who sat out Wednesday night’s game with an arm injury, will be back in the lineup and the team will bring center Zach Sill to Raleigh as well.
Trotz said he might also move Marcus Johansson, Andre Burakovsky or Brooks Laich to the center positron while Beagle is sidelined.
“It’s huge,” Trotz said when asked about having forwards who have played center in their careers. “Our system demands that different people play low sometimes. It all pays off. Having guys that have played that position, it’s very helpful, there’s no question.”
Trotz said Carlson, who missed his second straight game with a lower body injury, will miss “a few games” with his injury and that the club will recall a defenseman from Hershey to bring with them to Raleigh.
The losses of Orpik, Carlson and now Beagle will test the Capitals’ organizational depth, which has proven to be strong during a nine-game win streak.
“We had a couple games we probably could have probably mailed in and we didn’t, we came up with victories,” Trotz said. “And tonight you saw some backbone when it was needed. There wasn’t any excuses. Let’s just find a way to win.
“I don’t doubt their resolve. They sort of blow things off and say, ‘Next man up.’”
With Beagle sidelined for a lengthy period, it will be interesting to see if the Capitals go outside the organization to fill his spot at third-line center.
Mike Richards, a free agent currently working out with his former junior team in Kitchener, Ont., reportedly has drawn some interest from the San Jose Sharks. Richards won two Stanley Cups with Justin Williams in Los Angeles.
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