Consistent with his assertion after Thursday night’s loss against the Penguins, coach Barry Trotz maintained his stance that Braden Holtby would not play back-to-back games. On Sunday, he took that even a little further by scratching key Capitals players, including captain Alex Ovechkin, assistant captain Nicklas Backstrom, and defensemen John Carlson and Brooks Orpik. Also scratched was Jay Beagle who was injured during Saturday night’s game against the St. Louis Blues when he took a hard puck to the left ankle putting him out of the game in the first period. The rationale, Trotz said, “this is a typical game 82; everybody is just trying to get through”.
The healthy scratch announcements were a game time call and were most noticeable when these players did not participate in warm-ups with the Capitals. Trotz said that the starters would definitely be in game one of the playoffs. “Last night was a hard game. It was a big boys’ game and some guys got nicked up. You know we got in at 2:30 in the morning and that’s not a lot of healing time.” The Capitals first round playoff game is set for Thursday, 4/14, giving the veteran players plenty of time to heal and rest up before puck drop.
Sunday night, the Capitals, the first in the league to secure their playoff berth and later home ice advantage throughout the conference playoffs were simply going through the motions. Interestingly, all of tonight’s healthy scratches have missed multiple games this season due to injuries while Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov, Justin Williams, Jason Chimera, Karl Alzner Tom Wilson and Evgeny Kuznetsovn – who have now played in all 82 games, did not. “Somebody had to play tonight,” said defenseman Matt Niskanen.
The Capitals ran a rather unconventional starting line up comprised of Andre Burakovsky, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Justin Williams on the top line with Mike Webber and Dmitry Orlov leading off for the defense and Phillip Grubauer minding the net. Trotz reported that, “Philadelphia had a bunch of scouts here tonight but I don’t know if they got a lot out of watching us tonight”.
The Capitals fell to the Anaheim Ducks tonight in regulation play marking the long awaited post-season. Tonight’s win gave the Ducks their division championship over the LA Kings. The Capitals face the Flyers at Verizon Center in the first round of the playoffs on Thursday, 4/14, puck drop is at 7:00 pm.
By Stephanie Judge