The Washington Capitals will face off against the Carolina Hurricanes Thursday. The first-round series marks the two teams’ first-ever matchup in the NHL postseason. The Capitals swept the 2018-19 regular season series against the Canes four games to none, but the games were closer than they appeared on the scoreboard.
Wednesday, during Capitals’ practice, Todd Reirden put out what would most likely be Washington’s lineup heading into Game One.
Ovechkin – Backstrom – Wilson
Hagelin – Kuznetsov – Oshie
Vrana – Eller – Connolly
Burakovsky – Dowd – Stephenson
Carlson – Jensen
Orlov – Niskanen
Orpik – Djoos
The lines and pairings remain mostly the same. Carl Hagelin will play on the second line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and TJ Oshie while Jakub Vrana will skate with Lars Eller and Brett Connolly on the third. Chandler Stephenson will get a jersey over rookie forward Travis Boyd.
Capitals defenseman Nick Jensen has drawn top defensive pair duties with John Carlson to start the series and will assume much of the workload Michal Kempny had before having his season ended with a torn left hamstring.
During his press conference on Monday, Caps general manager Brian MacLellan said the team would address the John Carlson pairing “situationally,” since they’ve tried Christian Djoos, Brooks Orpik, and Jensen on the pairing.
While Jensen may lack playoff experience, having never been part of the post-season during his tenure with the Red Wings, the rest of his team has amassed 1,282 games in the playoffs. The Carolina Hurricanes do not have that luxury.
Caps' projected Game 1 lineup has 1,282 games of playoff experience
Canes' projected Game 1 lineup has 342 games of playoff experience and Justin Williams makes up 140 of that.
— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) April 10, 2019
The Hurricanes lineup features former Capital Justin Williams on the top line, and Petr Mrazek has earned the starters net after sharing the crease with Curtis McElhinney all season. Courtesy of Canes Country:
Canes rookie Jake Bean skated alongside Dougie Hamilton during Wednesday’s morning skate because Jaccob Slavin was not on the ice for a personal day, but Slavin is projected to play Thursday night.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong
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