News and notes as the Capitals prepare for tonight’s 2015 preseason opener against the Carolina Hurricanes at Verizon Center (7 p.m. CSN):
Let the games begin: The Capitals are coming off just three days of on-ice practices and will play seven preseason games over the next 14 days, three of them at Verizon Center, where they were 4-0-0 in the preseason last year. Since 2011-12, the Caps are 9-1-2 at home in preseason games.
Oshie debut: T.J. Oshie will make his Capitals preseason debut tonight and is expected to play alongside former St. Louis Blues teammate Derek Roy, who is trying to make the Caps’ lineup on a professional tryout contract. The Capitals acquired Oshie from the Blues in exchange for right wing Troy Brouwer, goaltender Pheonix Copley and a third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft on July 2, 2015. Oshie registered 55 points (19 goals, 36 assists) and 51 penalty minutes in 72 games with St. Louis last season. He finished the season ranked tied for third among Blues skaters in assists, fourth in plus/minus (plus-17), tied for fourth in game-winning goals (4) and fifth in points and goals. Roy could center that line with Andre Burakovsky on the leftr, or Burakovsky could center the line with Roy on the left.
Ovi and Kuzy: Look for Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov to play together on a top line, perhaps with fellow Russian Stan Galiev. In scrimmages, Brooks Laich has been centering a third line with left wing Jason Chimera and right wing Tom Wilson and they could begin tonight’s game as a unit. Ovechkin scored 53 goals last season to capture his third consecutive and fifth career Rocket Richard Trophy. No other player has won the award more than twice. Ovechkin led the NHL in goals (53), power-play goals (25), game-winning goals (11) and shots (395) in 2014-15.
Starting in goal: Braden Holtby is tabbed as tonight’s starter between the pipes and is expected to play half the game, with Dan Ellis taking over midway through the second period. Holtby set career highs in wins (41), shutouts (9), games played (73), goals-against average (2.22) and save percentage (.923) last season. He also registered a franchise-record 1,887 saves and tied the franchise record in wins, shutouts and games played. He finished the 2014-15 season ranked first in the NHL in ice time (4,247), games played (73) and saves (1,887), tied for second in shutouts (9) and wins (41), fifth in goals-against average (2.22) and tied for seventh in save percentage (.923). Since the start of the 2012-13 season, Holtby ranks second in the NHL in shutouts (17), trailing Carey Price (18). Ellis signed with the Caps as a free agent and played in 19 games with the Hurricanes during the 2012-13 season, posting a 6-8-2 record with one shutout, a 3.13 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage.
3-on-3: Regardless of the game’s outcome after three regulation periods, the Caps and Canes will experiment with the NHL’s new 5-minute 3-on-3 format. Look for an all-Russian combination of Kuznetsov, Ovechkin and Dmitry Orlov. It will be interesting to see if the Caps allow Holtby to go back in for the 3-on-3 overtime period, which could be a risky decision if he’s sitting cold on the bench.
Here is the Capitals’ numerical roster for tonight:
8 OVECHKIN, Alex
10 ROY, Derek
13 VRANA, Jakub
21 LAICH, Brooks
24 BARBER, Riley
25 CHIMERA, Jason
43 WILSON, Tom
48 CAMPER, Carter
49 GALIEV, Stanislav
53 COLLINS, Sean
65 BURAKOVSKY, Andre
77 OSHIE, T.J.
92 KUZNETSOV, Evgeny
2 NISKANEN, Matt
9 ORLOV, Dmitry
20 STANTON, Ryan
27 ALZNER, Karl
29 DJOOS, Christian
55 NESS, Aaron
58 CARRICK, Connor
39 ELLIS, Dan
70 HOLTBY, Braden
Tonight: Carolina Hurricanes, Verizon Center 7 p.m. CSN, NHLN Caps Radio 24/7
Tuesday: at Boston Bruins, 7 p.m., Caps Radio 24/7
Thursday: at Montreal Canadiens, 7:30 p.m. Caps Radio 24/7
Sept. 28: at NY Islanders, 7 p.m., FM 106.7, Caps Radio 24/7
Sept. 30: at Carolina Hurricanes, 7 p.m., Caps Radio 24/7
Oct. 2: Boston Bruins, Verizon Center, 7 p.m., CSN, NHLN Caps Radio 24/7
Oct. 4: NY Islanders, Verizon Center, 5 p.m., CSN, NHLN Caps Radio 24/7
MORE CAPITALS: Capitals line combinations slowly taking shape