The Philadelphia Flyers pay a preseason visit to Verizon Center on Friday night to close out the home portion of the 2013 exhibition slate for the Capitals. The Caps will finish off their eight-game slate of tune-up tilts on Saturday when they visit the Blackhawks in Chicago.
The Caps faced the Flyers in Philly on Sept. 16 in what was their second preseason game. Washington won that one 3-2 in a shootout, with Joel Rechlicz making the difference for the Caps in the shootout.
For what’s it worth (which admittedly, isn’t much) the Caps have earned a “point” in each of their half dozen preseason contests to date. Washington is 3-0-3 in the preseason, and it vanquished Nashville by a 4-1 count on Wednesday night in its most recent showing.
Eric Fehr scored two goals, Mikhail Grabovski had three assists in his first home game in a Caps’ sweater and Michal Neuvirth stopped 33 of the 34 shots he faced in Wednesday’s win over the Predators.
Grabovski has five assists in just two preseason games.
“He’s a good hockey player,” said Caps coach Adam Oates of Grabovski after Wednesday’s game. “He fits into our puzzle on the power play with the left shot, he skates very well; [he is a] very smart player. He’s a top six forward; he’s a good hockey player.”
At the conclusion of Thursday’s practice, the Capitals roster stood at 29 players: 17 forwards, 10 defensemen and two goaltenders. Barring a trade, it seems likely that three forwards and three defensemen will need to be pared from the roster to reach the NHL standard of 23 by the league-mandated deadline of Monday afternoon.
Players that need to be placed on waivers for reassignment would need to be waived before noon on Sunday in order to clear by the same hour on Monday for subsequent reassignment.
Forwards Brooks Laich (hip flexor) and Joel Ward (illness) have missed practice the last two days. With back-to-back games this weekend, with captain Alex Ovechkin missing the final preseason game on Saturday because of his attendance at the Olympic Torch-lighting ceremony in Greece and with center Nicklas Backstrom about to become a father for the first time, the Caps are likely to wait until after Saturday’s preseason finale to finalize their roster.
With back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday and the absences and potential absences noted, they’ll need to have some spare players on hand. Some of those spare players will have one or two more chances to impress the brass, either for purposes of making the club or for putting themselves in a strong position for a recall from the AHL at some point in 2013-14.
Sunday is slated to be an off day for the Capitals. They’ll practice on Monday morning at Kettler Capitals Iceplex before departing for Chicago that afternoon.
Goaltenders Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth can each be expected to start one of the Capitals’ two remaining preseason games, but there has been no firm word on which goalie would start which game, specifically.
Philadelphia visits New Jersey on Thursday night and the Flyers finish off their 2013 preseason schedule with Friday’s visit to the District. Philly carries a 1-3-1 preseason mark into Thursday’s game against the Devils.
Steve Mason is expected to start in goal for Philly in the Thursday contest at New Jersey, so it’s reasonable to expect that the Capitals will see Ray Emery in goal for the Flyers on Friday night.