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Friday night's Capitals lineup and what it tells us

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Friday night's Capitals lineup and what it tells us

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.:

Forwards
1. Burakovsky – Backstrom – Chiasson
2. Vrana – Eller – Wilson
3. Graovac – Beagle – Smith-Pelly
4. Walker – Stephenson – Connolly

Defense
1. Orlov – Niskanen
2. Ness – Chorney
3. Djoos – Bowey

Goalies
1. Holtby
2. Grubauer

RELATED: OVECHKIN REFLECTS ON THE 2016-17 SEASON

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.

 

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After injury scare, Caps' Alex Ovechkin says he expects to be fine

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After injury scare, Caps' Alex Ovechkin says he expects to be fine

Alex Ovechkin said he doesn’t expect to miss any time, despite limping off the ice late in Monday’s practice.

Ovechkin, who was attending a photo shoot for the annual Caps Canine Calendar shortly after practice, said he “tweaked” something but that “it’s not a big deal.”

RELATED: Upper-body injury keeps Burakovsky out of practice

Ovechkin said he expects to be available to practice on Tuesday morning. 

The Caps' captain is tied with Auston Matthews for the league lead in goals (10). 

Speaking before the photoshoot, Coach Barry Trotz said he thought Ovechkin would be “okay” but did not elaborate.

Toward the end of Monday’s spirited practice, Ovechkin said he got tangled up with a teammate, lost an edge and went down hard. Although he limped to the locker room in the immediate aftermath, Ovechkin was not walking with any discernable difficulty at the photoshoot.

MORE CAPITALS: CAPS IN SEARCH OF A SPARK AS THEY HEAD OUT WEST

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Barry Trotz thinks Alex Ovechkin will be fine after injury scare at practice

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Barry Trotz thinks Alex Ovechkin will be fine after injury scare at practice

Alex Ovechkin limped to the locker room late in Monday’ practice and did not return, but Coach Barry Trotz said he thinks the Caps’ captain is going to be okay.

Ovechkin, who is tied for the league lead in goals with 10, was participating in a spirited 2-on-2 battle drill when he got “tangled up” with a teammate and went down.

“I think he’s going to be okay,” Trotz said. “I got to talk to the trainers here. He got tangled up there; it’s a contact sport.”

RELATED: UPPER-BODY INJURY KEEPS BURAKOVSKY OUT OF PRACTICE MONDAY

After slowly getting up to his skates, Ovechkin gingerly skated his way to the bench at Kettler Capitals Iceplex with the assistance of head athletic trainer Jason Serbus.

Serbus examined Ovechkin on the bench before No. 8 limped to the locker room.

Ovechkin did not return to ice and was not available to reporters immediately afterward.

“I think he’s going to be okay,” Trotz said. “I’ll have a better idea a little bit later today or tomorrow. He just got tangled up.”

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