The Caps’ second-to-last preseason game will feature just about everyone who’s auditioning for a job on the opening night roster.
So, yeah, it’s a big one for the guys who are still being evaluated.
Here’s how Coach Barry Trotz will have them lined up at PNC Arena in Raleigh when the Capitals take on the Hurricanes at 7:30 p.m.:
1. Burakovsky – Backstrom – Chiasson
2. Vrana – Eller – Wilson
3. Graovac – Beagle – Smith-Pelly
4. Walker – Stephenson – Connolly
1. Orlov – Niskanen
2. Ness – Chorney
3. Djoos – Bowey
Here’s what you should know about that lineup, plus some notes, quotes and observations from the morning skate:
- Up front, Vrana, Chiasson, Graovac, Walker, Smith-Pelly and Stephenson are competing for the three spots. Of those, Graovac, Walker, Smith-Pelly and Stephenson require waivers to be demoted to the AHL. Chiasson, meantime, is on a tryout agreement.
- Graovac scored the Caps’ lone goal Wednesday night against New Jersey but said he wants to be better on the penalty kill. The 6-5 forward was on the ice for two of the Devils’ three power play tallies. “I still have a lot to prove, I feel that way,” he said Friday morning. “The PK last game was a little bit of a downer, and I want to be reliable. It just takes a couple of adjustments and I’m a quick learner. That’ll be a big part of tonight.”
- On the backend, Ness, Djoos and Bowey are battling for two positions. Ness and Djoos require waivers; Bowey is the only right shot among them.
- Forwards Ovechkin, Oshie, Peluso, Kuznetsov and defensemen Orpik and Carlson are the only players not suiting up Friday. Among those, Peluso is the only player who is still in a competition.
- Coach Trotz wouldn’t say whether a decision had been made on Peluso’s status. Asked if he’d suit up Sunday in St. Louis, “I don’t know yet. We’re going game to game.” Peluso would need to pass through waivers in order to be sent to the Bears.
- Oshie, who left Wednesday’s game in the third period, practiced fully on Friday. He was not scheduled to be in the lineup vs. the Canes, anyway.
- Trotz said he’d like for the preseason finale against the Blues to be a dress rehearsal but, he added, “that depends on how today goes. I would like it to be. But if we’re not where we need to be then we’ll do what we need to do. We’re going to have to split some hairs.” He continued: “Yeah, it is very important for a number of players.”
- Complicating matters for the cap-strapped Caps is this: performance is just one part of determining who makes the team—at least to start. Waivers as well as cap considerations will also weigh heavily on the front office’s decisions.
- The Caps are 1-4 so far this preseason. They’ve scored seven goals, including just two 5-on-5 goals. “I’ve made no bones about it, we haven’t been our best yet,” Trotz said. “A lot of our top guys have not really got going yet. I trust that they will ramp it up here. Really, through the preseason we’ve got zero production from the top guys other than the power play, which is more about skill and execution than it is about working and creating and battling.”
- Wilson is returning from a two-game suspension for a late hit.
- Trotz said the next round of cuts will be made Sunday or Monday.
MORE CAPITALS: HERE'S HOW TO WATCH FRIDAY'S PRESEASON GAME WITH CAROLINA