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Capitals react to Penguins sticking with Murray in goal

Capitals react to Penguins sticking with Murray in goal

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said rookie netminder Matt Murray, and not veteran Marc-Andre Fleury, will start Game 6 for the Penguins Tuesday night at Consol Energy Center. Fleury, who won a Stanley Cup for the Pens in 2009, has not played since March 31. 

“For us I don’t think it changes much,” Capitals defenseman Taylor Chorney said. “Obviously, they are different goalies and it would be a little bit of a different look if they went with Fleury. But for us to score goals we’ve got to get pucks to the net and get traffic to the net. That’s the only way to score this time of year. It doesn’t change with who’s in net.”

Murray, 21, has been a revelation in the post-season with a 6-2 record, 1.96 GAA, and .937 save percentage. On Saturday night at Verizon Center Murray surrendered three goals on 19 shots in the Caps’ 3-1 win.

That was not enough for Sullivan to change his opinion of Murray. But if the Capitals can get to Murray in Game 6, the pressure to play Fleury in Game 7 will be increased significantly by the fans in Pittsburgh.

Caps backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer was thrown into Game 2 of the Capitals’ first-round series against the Islanders last spring, but noted that he had played several games for the Hershey Bears before making that start.

Fleury has not played a game in 40 days. He sat out the final five games of the regular season and the Penguins’ first seven playoff games after suffering a second concussion on march 31. Fleury, 31, has dressed as Murray’s backup in Games 3, 4 and 5.

Fleury has a career playoff record of 53-44 with a 2.65 GAA and .906 save percentage

“I think it would be hard for sure,” Grubauer said. “It’s one thing practicing; it’s another thing getting into game shape and getting game ready. I don’t know what they’re doing. It’s their decision. I can say it’s tough. He had a really good stretch before he got injured and then he gets hurt. It’s not the same when you practice and get put in a game, but he’s been in the league long enough. It’s not his first time getting injured so he has some experience with that I’m sure.”

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Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

When the Capitals acquired defenseman Michal Kempny on Monday, that put the team at the maximum of 23 players on the roster including eight defenseman.

Another move seemed likely and the Caps made it on Tuesday by placing veteran blueliner Taylor Chorney on waivers.

Teams now will have 24 hours to potentially claim Chorney. Should he clear at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, it is expected that he will be sent to the Hershey Bears of the AHL. Whether he is claimed or sent to Hershey, his entire $800,000 cap hit will no longer count against the Capitals' salary.

One important thing to note, however, is that placing Chorney on waivers was not required in order for Washington to remain under the salary cap.

Having eight defensemen would mean scratching two every game — assuming the team does not dress seven and after that failed experiment in last year's playoffs, why would they — which means it would be a struggle to make sure everyone gets consistent playing time in the final weeks of the season.

Perhaps placing Chorney on waivers is the team trying to get him more playing time to keep him sharp in case the team suffers injuries on the blue line and he is called upon in the playoffs.

Or perhaps it could mean something else.

RELATED: RANKING THE CAPITALS' TOP PROSPECTS

Chorney played on Feb. 15, but that was during the mentor's trip. Barry Trotz's policy for those trips is to get everyone in at least one of those two games. Before that, Chorney had not played since Jan. 2. It certainly seems like the team was comfortable with him being the designated No. 7 and was not all that concerned about getting him regular playing time before now.

When asked if the Kempny trade would mean any roster moves, Trotz said Monday that he was not sure and hinted that perhaps more moves could be coming from general manager Brian MacLellan. Moving Chorney's salary off the books does not clear much cap room, but it does clear some.

Perhaps MacLellan has another move up his sleeve before Monday's trade deadline.

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Michal Kempny excited to move from last place Chicago to first place Caps

Michal Kempny excited to move from last place Chicago to first place Caps

On Sunday, Michal Kempny was a defenseman struggling for a spot in the lineup for a team poised to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008. On Monday, he became potentially an important piece on the roster of the first place Capitals.

The last few days have been quite the whirlwind for Kempny who tallied an assist for Chicago on Saturday in a 7-1 blowout against what is now his current team. While the Blackhawks may have gotten the better of Washington that night, Kempny is excited about the postseason opportunity that now lies in front of him.

"Nobody knows what's happening in Chicago, but I'm really happy and I'm really glad that I can be here," Kempny told reporters on Tuesday after his first skate with the team. "There is option of play a playoff and I'm very happy for it."

RELATED: WHERE MICHAL KEMKPNY FITS IN THE CAPS' LINEUP

The 27-year-old Czech defenseman played only 31 games for the Blackhawks this season, but considering Washington's need to shore up its defense before the trade deadline and the team's willingness to give up a third-round pick to acquire him, it is likely he will have a much more significant role with the Caps.

"I thought that I [was] going to get more space on the ice and more ice time, but I didn't play more than half games," Kempny said of his decision to originally sign with Chicago. "But now I'm here and I'm really glad that I'm here. Washington is amazing city and great organization and I hope I will get a chance to access myself on the ice more than in Chicago."

Kempny will not play in Tuesday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but did say he expects to play Thursday when the team visits the Florida Panthers.

When he does get into the lineup, it is unclear just how big a role he will play initially or how the team foresees utilizing him going forward. He is a left-shot defenseman and did tell reporters he prefers to play on that side. It seems unlikely the team would acquire him just to put him on his offside.

As of now, however, everything regarding his role in Washington is up in the air.

"I need everything settle down a little bit," he said. "New teammates, new people around here."

MORE CAPITALS: MEET MICHAL KEMPNY