If Taylor Chorney’s flu symptoms keep him out of Thursday night’s game against the New York Islanders the Capitals will be forced to make an emergency recall for a defenseman. That means Aaron Ness should keep his cell phone charged.
Chorney, who has been a rock (5 assists, plus-12) for the Caps during the 34-game absence of defenseman Brooks Orpik, pulled himself out of Tuesday night’s 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers and called in sick for Wednesday’s practice, leaving the Caps with just five healthy defensemen.
“We’ll see where he is (Thursday),” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “I’ll talk to Smitty (athletic trainer Greg Smith) and (Hershey Bears coach) Troy Mann and we’ll probably bring someone in on emergency recall.”
Ness, 25, played eight games for the Caps during his most recent callup, recording two assists and a plus-4 rating. He was sent back to Hershey and replaced by Ryan Stanton for one game because he was nearing the 10-game, 30-day threshold for being waiver eligible, which would allow another NHL team to claim him.
That waiver clock would not continue ticking if Ness is recalled on an emergency basis, which would be the case on Thursday because the Caps are down to just six defensemen on their roster. (They were carrying seven blue liners when Ness was on the roster last month).
Wakeup call: Although the Caps looked rusty in their first game back from the NHL All-Star break, Trotz said he was not letting his teammates off the hook.
“It’s starts with all of us,” Trotz said of his coaching staff. “I’ve got to hold them accountable more so now than ever. There are some areas we need to clean up.”
RELATED: Will well-rested Ovechkin cure Caps' power play?
The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?
Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.
That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).
Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.
SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE
Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:
In contention for: Norris
Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.
In contention for: Hart
Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.
Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!
Vincent Trocheck scored on the power play with 18.7 seconds remaining and the Panthers escaped with a 3-2 victory on an emotional night in Sunrise, Fla.
Trocheck’s goal was Florida’s second in the final four minutes…and the Caps were left to lament yet another incomplete performance. Washington has now lost three of its last four games and fell to 4-5-2 in February.
Tarik’s three stars of the game:
1-Vincent Trocheck, Panthers
Trocheck did what Trocheck does in the third period: The Florida forward scored a clutch goal in the final seconds, redirecting a Jonathan Huberdeau shot through Brooks Orpik’s legs and past Braden Holtby.
Eller was in the penalty box when Trocheck scored his 13th third period goal of the season.
2-Andre Burakovsky, Capitals
After losing a goal to Eller in the first period, Burakovsky made sure he didn’t go home empty-handed. No. 65 scored on the power play in the second period to put the Caps ahead 2-1.
It was Burakovsky’s third goal in six games. He also earned a secondary assist on Eller’s redirection score.
3-Braden Holtby, Capitals
Following a handful of un-Holtby-like performances lately, Holtbeast roared Thursday night at BB&T Center. He made at least one game-saving stop in each period: an arm save on Trocheck in the first period; a pad stop on Denis Malgin in the second and another extended pad stop on Evgenii Dadonov in the third. Holtby finished with 30 stops.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.