The Washington Capitals are “dealing with a few things in the room” as head coach Peter Laviolette has said many times in the past. Multiple key pieces of the team’s roster have missed recent practices due to injury or illness.
Saturday morning’s skate before the team’s final preseason matchup against the Columbus Blue Jackets shed some light on those situations. TJ Oshie (upper-body) and Dmitry Orlov (lower-body) took the ice in non-contact jerseys. Lars Eller (illness) was a full participant in the optional skate.
Laviolette, per The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir, announced that even with their involvement in the skate all three would not play in the game against Columbus.
Oshie (upper body), Orlov (lower body) and Eller (illness) were on the ice this morning but will not play tonight vs. CBJ, per Laviolette. So…progress. Season opener is Wednesday vs. BOS. #Caps
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) October 8, 2022
The Capitals announced their roster for the game on Saturday morning and both Oshie and Orlov were absent. Fourteen forwards and seven defensemen made the list, including Eller, so the Capitals will not be short at any position.
Three of those forwards, namely Aliaksei Protas, Henrik Borgstrom, and Joe Snively could get the unexpected benefit of being able to make a last impression on the coaching staff due to Oshie and Eller’s absences. If the team carries eight defensemen at the start of the regular season, there will only be room for one extra forward on the 23-man roster.
“There are people that are trying to cement their place here,” Laviolette said earlier this week. “We’re still in an evaluation process – with everybody. The practices are important, the games are important. There’s evaluating going on.”
The Capitals open their regular season in just four days at home against the Boston Bruins. The bench boss was non-committal about the status of Oshie and Orlov when it comes to that home opener. Both players stuck around post-skate to get in extra work.
“Yeah, it’s still day-to-day but they’re out here,” Laviolette told El-Bashir. “We got a game and practice tomorrow and then one more practice before that so we’ll see where everything’s at, see how they’re feeling and then make decisions.”
The Caps will be up against a pretty much full-strength Columbus team in their final preseason test. Johnny Gaudreau, Patrik Laine, Zach Werenski, and Elvis Merzlikins among others are all expected to get a jersey.
Facing that Blue Jackets lineup in net for the Capitals will be Darcy Kuemper. The Washington Post’s Samantha Pell reports that Kuemper will play the full game as he did in the team’s last matchup against the Detroit Red Wings.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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