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Who's In and Who's Out? Barry Trotz resting a handful of top Capitals for season finale

Who's In and Who's Out? Barry Trotz resting a handful of top Capitals for season finale

With their playoff position set, the Caps have decided to rest several veterans against the Florida Panthers on Sunday night, Coach Barry Trotz revealed a couple of hours before the regular season finale.

Sitting out will be forwards Justin Williams, T.J. Oshie and Brett Connolly as well as defensemen Matt Niskanen and John Carlson. 

Each of them has missed at least one game this season for health reasons. Connolly missed Saturday's game in Boston with an illness, while Carlson has missed three games with a lower body injury.

The players who are sitting out aren’t injured, but Trotz hinted that they’ve got some bumps and bruises that could benefit from a game off. 

And with nothing to be gained against the Panthers, who have been eliminated, that made Sunday the perfect day to take a break.

“No one is totally okay at this time,” Trotz said.

“But if we have a choice to give them a little break, we chose to give them a break.”

Trotz also said that goalie Braden Holtby will start the game but will give way to backup Philipp Grubauer after two periods.

RELATED: UPDATED NHL PLAYOFF PICTURE

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Capitals could sit Lars Eller even if he is cleared in time for Game 1 against the Islanders

Capitals could sit Lars Eller even if he is cleared in time for Game 1 against the Islanders

The Capitals may be without forward Lars Eller in Wednesday's Game 1 against the New York Islanders even if he is cleared by the NHL in time to play. That was the thought of head coach Todd Reirden on Monday who expressed he would have to make a decision to avoid any possible injury that could keep him out longer.

Eller left the bubble in Toronto for the birth of his second child. He is now back in Toronto under quarantine in his room and cannot leave until he tests negative four times over a four-day period, per NHL protocols. It is unclear when Eller took his first test. If it was Monday, he will not be ready in time for Wednesday's game. If it was on Sunday, there's a chance he could be cleared to play by Wednesday.

"The NHL will be the ones that decide that, have the overall final call on it," Reirden said.

But even if Eller just manages to clear before the 3 p.m. game time on Wednesday, there's a chance he still may not play.

While under quarantine, Eller is not allowed to leave his hotel room at all.

"He’s not allowed to leave his hotel room, so he hasn’t been doing any exercise outside of his room and until we’re told differently that will be how it is," Reirden said.

That could be a problem.

RELATED: CARLSON MAKING STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

Eller first left the bubble on Aug. 5. By Wednesday, he will have gone a week without being on the ice or being able to exercise, beyond whatever he can do in his room. Typically in these situations, players get a practice in before getting back into the game lineup and Reirden made it clear on Monday that he may have to consider sitting Eller for Game 1 to prevent any sort of injury after missing a week.

“I think it’s something you have to consider is the player hasn’t been on the ice," Reirden said. "He obviously plays a huge role on our team and if you remember a few years ago the success and kind of the X factor that he was for our team when we won against Vegas. So I think it’s important that we handle this situation and make the proper the decision to give this player the best chance to be able to, if it’s not Game 1, then he’s ready to go for Game 2 and he’s as close to healthy in terms of conditioning-wise, he’s ready to go on the ice and be able to add the things he can add and do it safely so that we can have him for an extended time here in this playoffs because he is definitely a big factor in our team success.”

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If Eller is out, Travis Boyd will likely play in his place. Boyd centered the third line in Eller's absence in the last two round robin games.

Luckily, that is the only real question mark down the middle for Washington. Nicklas Backstrom, who missed a practice last week but played against the Boston Bruins on Sunday, said Monday that he had "no concerns" in terms of his status heading into the playoffs.

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New initiatives allow Capitals fans to stay connected to the team virtually

New initiatives allow Capitals fans to stay connected to the team virtually

Even though Caps fans cannot be in person to support their team on the road to the Stanley Cup this season, the Capitals organization and NHL found creative ways to keep the fan base involved in the team’s playoff run.

Through a number of virtual initiatives, Caps fans are now able to stay connected to their team and show their support from a distance while Washington competes at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. 

The team first encouraged fans to share personalized good luck messages and cheers for the players, which can be submitted at WashCaps.com/RallyCaps. A Capitals theme will be applied to the video, and fans will receive the video for personal use. They will also be featured on Caps’ social media channels.  

Next, it’s not Capitals hockey without Unleashing the Fury. Capitals fans can record themselves doing their best reenactment of the Unleash the Fury montage showed during games, and the videos will be used during playoff games and on social media. Videos can be submitted at WashingtonCaps.com/FanFury

The NHL also hopes to keep the tradition alive of fans showing their support with signs during warmups, so if Capitals fans make a handmade sign and tweet a photo with the hashtag #NHLWarmups with @Capitals tagged, the photo may be shown in the arena during warmups. 

In addition to these initiatives, there will also be a virtual gameday pregame show, behind the scenes footage and special digital content on the team’s social media channels, a virtual pep rally with radio play-by-play broadcaster John Walton, hockey ambassador Haley Skarupa and anthem singer Sgt. Major Bob McDonald, a Stanely Cup Playoff Bracket Challenge, special offers at the team stores at Capital One Arena and Medstar Capitals Iceplex, the chance for Club 365 members to submit photos of how they represent #ALLCAPS and matchup graphics and broadcast info featured on the video screens outside Capital One Arena.

The Capitals will begin their first-round playoff series with the New York Islanders on Wednesday at 3:00 p.m., so it’s time for fans to start showing their support virtually!

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