News and Notes from Thursday’s Capitals Practice: G’day Nate, Welcome Back

Photo: @Capitals

After a thrilling win over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night, the Capitals traveled to Arizona and had a day off before hitting the ice for practice Thursday afternoon at Gila River Arena. Joining the team was Nathan Walker, who was picked up on Wednesday after being placed on waivers by the Oilers. It was a homecoming of sorts for the Australian NHL star, as he returned to the very team that drafted him in 2014



Philipp Grubauer was in the starter’s net the whole practice. With the Capitals beginning a back-to-back desert set tomorrow, first with the Arizona Coyotes and then the brand new Vegas Golden Knights the next night, it’s likely Grubauer starts Friday while Braden Holtby gets the game on Saturday.

Freezing in the Desert
Walker’s pickup by the Capitals came at a critical time. Tuesday Dec. 19 at 11:59 p.m. eastern was the beginning of the NHL’s annual roster freeze. The roster freeze will end on Dec. 28 at 12:01 a.m. During this eight-day span, teams aren’t allowed to trade or move a player in an agreement that requires waivers. Simply put, it prevents any players on NHL active rosters or injured reserve from being traded, waived or loaned.

Walker, along with Devante Smith-Pelly, were the two extra forwards. Capitals head coach Barry Trotz stated after the practice session that Walker is with the Capitals through the roster freeze and then when that period ends a decision would have to be made. Whether it’s keeping him with the big club in DC or sending him down to Hershey when the roster freeze ends, Trotz said that Walker needs playing time.


  • Braden Holtby stopped 33 of the 36 shots he faced in the Capitals’ 4-3 overtime victory against the Dallas Stars on Dec. 19 to record his 20th win of the season. Through 27 games. Holtby is 20-7-0, making him one o just two goaltenders with 20 wins this season (Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy: 21).
  •  Holtby’s 20 wins in his first 27 games of the season is the second-fastest sprint to the 20-win mark in his career. During the 2015-16 season, the year he tied Martin Brodeur’s all-time single-season record of 48 wins, Holtby recorded his 20th win in his 25th game of the season.
  • The Capitals won their first meeting against the Coyotes 3-2 in overtime on Nov. 6.

Lars Eller joins John Walton for today’s rinkside update:


By Michael Marzzacco

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