Now that center Nicklas Backstrom has returned to the lineup after nearly five months of rehab from hip surgery, the Capitals find themselves with more healthy forwards than they need.
The team took the NHL maximum of 23 players with them on their three-game road trip, which begins tonight in Calgary against the Flames (8:30 p.m. pregame, CSN). With center Chandler Stephenson and defenseman Taylor Chorney coming off strong games over the weekend, forwards Stan Galiev and Michael Latta and defenseman Nate Schmidt are expected to be healthy scratches again tonight.
“I’m not a big proponent of 23, but three things come into play,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said when asked about taking a full roster to western Canada.
“Financially, where we are within the cap system. Two, if a player is not playing very long and he’s not developing, that’s not really what we want. And the third one is the waiver situation for guys that can get exposed. If we’re going to expose anybody we want to make sure we’re healthy.”
According to generalfanager.com, the Caps are roughly $436,000 under the salary cap, so there are no real issues there. Ideally, Trotz would like to carry 13 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies. With that in mind, Galiev is the most likely player the Caps would assign to Hershey, but he would need to clear waivers to get there.
Barring injuries, the Caps likely will wait until they return from Canada on Saturday to make any roster moves.
Chorlov: Trotz said he was pleased with the way his third defense pairing looked in Saturday night’s 4-1 win over Carolina, so look for Taylor Chorney, 28, and Dmitry Orlov, 24, to stay together tonight in Calgary, with Nate Schmidt remaining a healthy scratch.
Chorney and Orlov are left-handed shooters with experience of playing both sides. But after two games on the right side, the Caps moved Orlov to the left.
“I thought the left side was good for him,” Trotz said.
The Capitals like the calm, consistent play of Chorney, especially when matched with Orlov, whose unpredictability can be both entertaining and maddening.
“I think I’ve been playing so-so,” said Orlov, who has one assist and is a minus-1 while averaging 13:25 in ice time. “I made some turnovers. Maybe I just need to play simple. If I have a chance to make a play, make a good pass. If not, just chip it off the boards and get it out of our zone.”
Essentially, that’s what Chorney (plus-1, 14:06) has been doing in his two games since replacing Schmidt.
“He’s skating,” Trotz said. “Sometimes you have to skate pucks out of trouble and he did that (against Carolina).”
Chorney said one of the reasons he signed with the Capitals is because of their need for someone who could play either side of the ice.
“They’re going to need left-handed guys who play right,” he said. “I played the right side with Wilkes-Barre and with Pittsburgh last season. At this point I don’t care who I play with or what side. I just want to go out there and do my thing.”
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