TORONTO—Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner is a game-time decision for Game 3 on Monday night, Coach Barry Trotz said.
Alzner did not join his teammates for the morning skate at Air Canada Centre. Instead, Nate Schmidt skated in his spot alongside John Carlson.
If Alzner is not able to suit up, it would seem likely that Schmidt and Carlson would play together in the game since it would allow Trotz to keep together the other two pairs.
It’s not clear what is ailing Alzner, who has not missed a game in seven seasons. All Trotz would say was that the team's training staff believed he could benefit from a “maintenance day” and thus was held out of the morning skate.
Trotz said a decision on Alzner's status will be made later in the day.
“He will be a game time decision for us,” Trotz said.
If Schmidt does draw into the lineup, Trotz said he has full confidence in him. Schmidt appeared in 60 games this season, including the final four contests.
Schmidt's last goal? Here in Toronto on April 4.
“Nate has played really well,” Trotz said. “He’s a really good player. We’re real fortunate to have a guy that’s played in our top-6 all year that got bumped down to seventh [by the acquisition of Kevin Shattenkirk]. So we’ve got a lot of confidence in Nate. The last couple of years he’s really developed.”
Trotz also noted that Schmidt could give the Caps’ team speed a boost against a young, quick Leafs’ group.
“He’s an exceptional skater; it’s real strength to his game,” Trotz said. “He’ll use his assets. And his biggest asset is he’s an exceptional skater.”
Schmidt said he’ll be ready if his number get called—even if the decision isn’t made until pregame warmups.
“You just got to be ready if it happens,” he said. “It’s just about preparing like a normal game. Make sure you’re napping and prepare the same way. If you play, you play. If you don’t, you get your workout in.”
Based on the skate, it does not appear that Trotz will make changes to his forward lines. On Sunday, he acknowledged that he was mulling tweaks. But based on line rushes, it looks like he’ll stick with the same combos he’s deployed since late December.