Less than 96 hours before Tuesday’s 5:00 p.m. roster deadline, players hoping to make the team on Opening Night took to the ice in Raleigh for the Capitals’ sixth preseason game of the year. While there were some noteworthy performances, another slow start and another slow finish doomed the Capitals, who fell 3-1 to Carolina.
Race for the Final Roster Spots
Jakub Vrana’s speed makes him almost certain to make the roster, and Madison Bowey’s poise makes him a strong contender to secure one of the defensive openings. Nathan Walker continued to be aggressive at both ends of the ice and showed strong two-way play.
Scoring: Defenseman Justin Faulk put the Hurricanes on the board midway through the first period with a shot through a screen set by Hurricanes’ forward Brock McGinn, who was locked in a scrum with Caps defenseman Taylor Chorney. The goal horn sounded before goalie Philipp Grubauer realized the puck was in the back of the net.
The Good: Center Tyler Graovac continues to make a case that he deserves an Opening Night lineup spot, playing well on the penalty kill and pushing the play in the offensive zone. Walker also continued to play tenaciously. Bowey showed a lot of poise in the defensive zone and led the team with 7:39 in ice time. As a team, the Caps did well in the faceoff dot, winning 8 of 11 draws at even strength and 9 of 14 overall.
The Bad: Coach Barry Trotz is still trying out a number of prospects to fill out the defensive corps, but with the exception of Bowey, the young players are still struggling to get the puck out of their own zone. The Caps also took two penalties in the first frame.
The Ugly: The Capitals got off to another sluggish start, finishing the period with just four shots on net. The Caps will have to pick up the pace from the puck drop when the regular season starts on Thursday in Ottawa.
Scoring: The Caps wasted no time shaking off their sluggish start, with Matt Niskanen putting a shot from the left dot past Carolina goalie Scott Darling just a half minute into the period after receiving a nice pass by Devante Smith-Pelly. Unfortunately, the tie didn’t last long, as the Canes’ Noah Hanifin struck on the power play 2:36 into the period.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) September 30, 2017
John Walton’s call of the goal:
The Good: Jakub Vrana continued to show the skills that give him the potential to make a difference; his speed gave him two solid scoring chances. It’s hard to see him returning to Hershey this year. Bowey continued to play well, showing good positioning and patience on defense.
The Bad: While the Caps picked up the pace with 10 shots on goal, they continued to trail Carolina 21-14 on shots after the second period.
The Ugly: The Caps had two more penalties in the second, allowing Carolina to capitalize on the man advantage to regain the lead.
Scoring: The Hurricanes struck 5:11 in on a weird angle. Trevor Van Riemsdyk, who was acquired in a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights after being selected as their pick from the Chicago Blackhawks, scored from below the circle. The goal deflected off of Capitals’ defenseman Christian Djoos‘ stick and behind Grubauer for a 3-1 Hurricanes lead. The goal was the third scored by a defenseman for Carolina.
The Good: Not much.
The Bad: Still no offense.
The Ugly: The Capitals continued to struggle to put shots on net.
Power Play: Hurricanes – 1/5 Capitals – 0/1
Shots: Hurricanes – 33 Capitals – 19
Faceoffs: Hurricanes – 44% Capitals – 56%
Hits: Hurricanes – 18 Capitals – 31
The Capitals fall to 1-5 in the preseason.
Up Next: The Capitals will conclude their exhibition season with a date at Scottrade Arena against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. ET. Trotz said this morning that he hopes to have a full dress rehearsal for Thursday’s season opener in Ottawa against the Blues. The game will not be televised, but you can listen to it on WFED and Caps Radio 24/7. The Caps will open the regular season against the Senators on Thursday at 7:00 p.m ET on CSN (which will by then be NBC Sports Washington) and will have their home opener a week from Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens.
By Harrison Brown