Quick hits from today’s morning skate at Kettler as the Capitals (55-17-6, 116 points) look to prevent the New York Islanders (43-26-9, 95 points) from clinching a berth in the Stanley Cup playoffs tonight at Verizon Center (6:30 Pregame Live, CSN):
No Backstrom: Caps center Nicklas Backstrom (upper body injury) participated in the team’s optional skate on Tuesday but remained on the ice for extra skating and will not play tonight, according to coach Barry Trotz. Backstrom was injured in last Wednesday’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Flyers in Philadelphia.
Latta returns: Several Capitals said they expect a very physical game against the Islanders, who rank second in the NHL with 2,220 hits, behind only the Los Angeles Kings (2,413). With that in mind Trotz said Michael Latta will return to the lineup for the first time since Feb. 22, a span of 20 games. Latta is expected to replace Stan Galiev.
Holtby between the pipes: Braden Holtby can tie Martin Brodeur’s single-season wins record of 48 victories with a win tonight. His teammates said it’s one of the last goals they have for this regular season.“I hope it’s not too stressful for them,” Holtby joked.
Here are the Caps’ projected line combinations for tonight:
Alex Ovechkin – Marcus Johansson – T.J. Oshie
Andre Burakovsky – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Justin Williams
Jason Chimera – Jay Beagle – Tom Wilson
Daniel Winnik – Mike Richards – Michael Latta
Injured: Nicklas Backstrom
Extra: Stan Galiev
Karl Alzner – Matt Niskanen
Nate Schmidt – John Carlson
Brooks Orpik – Dmitry Orlov
Extras: Mike Weber, Taylor Chorney
Braden Holtby (starter) – Philipp Grubauer
MORE CAPITALS: Backstrom says he'll wait until he's '100 percent'