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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.

 

MORE CAPITALS: HERE'S HOW TO WATCH FRIDAY'S PRESEASON GAME WITH CAROLINA

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NBC Sports to nationally broadcast 18 Capitals games in 2018-19 season

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NBC Sports

NBC Sports to nationally broadcast 18 Capitals games in 2018-19 season

All eyes will be on the Caps as they begin their quest to defend their Stanley Cup title. Literally.

NBC Sports released its national broadcast schedule for the NHL regular season on Monday and coverage will begin with the Capitals' home-opener on Oct. 3 against the Boston Bruins. The nation will be able to witness Washington raising its first Stanley Cup banner to the rafters on NBCSN.

NBC Sports will present a total of 109 games in 2018-19, the most since acquiring NHL rights before 2005-06 and the Caps will be featured prominently.

Washington will appear eight times on NBCSN's Wednesday Night Hockey, the most of any team in the NHL, and four times on NHL on NBC. NBCSN will also broadcast an additional six games.

All games will be streamed live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app to authenticated users via TV Everywhere.

Here is the Capitals schedule as released by NBC Sports:

Wed. Oct. 3: Boston at Washington, 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN
Wed. Oct. 10: Vegas at Washington, 8 p.m. on NBCSN
Wed. Oct. 17: N.Y. Rangers at Washington, 7 p.m. on NBCSN
Wed. Nov. 7: Pittsburgh at Washington, 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN
Tues. Dec. 11: Detroit at Washington, 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN*
Wed. Dec. 19: Pittsburgh at Washington, 8 p.m. on NBCSN
Fri. Dec. 21: Buffalo at Washington, 7 p.m. on NBCSN*
Tues. Jan. 8: Philadelphia at Washington, 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN*
Sun. Jan. 20: Washington at Chicago, 12:30 p.m. on NBC
Wed. Jan. 23: Washington at Toronto, 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN
Sun. Feb. 3: Boston at Washington, 12:30 p.m. on NBC
Sun. March 3: Washington at N.Y. Rangers, 12:30 p.m. on NBC
Wed. March 6: Washington at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN
Tues. March 12: Washington at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. on NBCSN*
Tues. March 19: Washington at New Jersey, 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN*
Wed. March 20: Tampa Bay at Washington, 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN
Sun. March 24: Philadelphia at Washington, 12:30 p.m. on NBC
Tues. March 26: Carolina at Washington, 7 p.m. on NBCSN*

* These games will be broadcast nationally, but will not be seen on NBCSN locally because they will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington

NBC Sports Washington remains the home of the Capitals for the 2018-19 season and will broadcast a majority of the team's games for the season including pre and postgame coverage. You can also expect extensive coverage on NBCSportsWashington.com throughout the season.

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Key Caps questions: Who will play on the team's third defensive pair?

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Key Caps questions: Who will play on the team's third defensive pair?

The dog days of summer are officially here, but it's never too hot to talk some hockey.

Capitals correspondent JJ Regan is here to help you through the offseason doldrums as he discusses key questions facing the Caps for the upcoming season as Washington prepares to defend its title for the first time in franchise history.

Today's question: What will be the team's primary third defensive pairing?

Barring any PTOs or breakout performances in training camp, we can reasonably assume Brooks Orpik, Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey are going to be the three players battling it out to be on the third pair.

General manager Brian MacLellan went through some salary cap gymnastics to get Orpik back for next season at a much smaller cap hit, Djoos played 22 playoff games in the Caps’ Stanley Cup run and Bowey was signed to a one-way, two-year contract for $1 million per year. Clearly, all three are expected to be on the Caps’ roster next season and play a role, but that role will be limited considering the top-four is pretty much set with Michal Kempny-John Carlson and Dmitry Orlov-Matt Niskanen.

Orpik will be 38 years old at the start of the season. His on and off-ice contributions are much greater than many were willing to acknowledge, but he was never a fast player and at his age, holding him to 60 games or fewer will make him a more effective player.

Djoos and Bowey are 24 and 23 respectively and, while both are ready for bigger roles, both are far from finished products. While they may be part of the future of Washington’s blue line, putting in two young, second-year players as their own pair is a risk.

But even if head coach Todd Reirden is not ready to turn the reins over to his two young defensemen just yet, he still needs to get both players plenty of playing time.

This is why Orpik may get a lot more playing time than many people think. The best thing for both Djoos and Bowey is for them to play. If you have concerns about them playing together, however, and neither is ready to supplant anyone in the top four, then you are going to see them cycle in and out of the lineup fairly frequently to play alongside Orpik.

That’s not to say we will never see a Djoos-Bowey pairing this season. They will probably have their chances and the better they look, the longer that pair will last. If they were ready, it would be a safe assumption that they would get the bulk of games together with Orpik serving more of a reserve role.

But a Djoos-Bowey pairing would be too vulnerable to opposing offenses at least at the start of the season and so we should expect a lot of Orpik.

While Reirden will work his defensive magic to bring Djoos-Bowey along as quickly as possible, I would anticipate Orpik-Djoos will see a majority of games this season as the team’s third defensive pairing.

Other key Caps questions: