Whitney, 25, was recalled from the team's American Hockey League affiliate, the Albany Devils, on Thursday. The team re-assigned forward Reid Boucher to Albany on Wednesday. In 39 games with Albany, Whitney has 16 goals, 36 points and plus-4 rating.
"It was tough sleeping last night," Whitney said. "I'm pretty anxious and ready to come to the rink and have a good game. It's a great opportunity for me to play on the top line with two very, very good and smart players, so I'm just going to try and play my game and play it smart and do all the right things out there."
Boucher had two goals, seven points and a plus-2 rating in 23 games with the Devils. Whitney becomes the fourth Devils player to make his NHL debut this season, joining Boucher, Jon Merrill and Mike Sislo.
"I think anytime you call someone up you're looking for some energy," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "With Joe, he's a similar player to Boucher. He's got some offense and has led [Albany] in scoring and hopefully it works. We're giving him an opportunity because he's earned it."
Devils center Adam Henrique, who sat out the third period of a 7-1 victory against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday after sustaining a thumb injury in the second period, skated a second straight day and is expected to play against the Capitals.
Cory Schneider is expected to make his first career start against the Capitals, marking his sixth start in the past eight games. He is 3-0-2 with one shutout, an 0.96 goals-against average and .966 save percentage in his past five starts. Schneider's 1.88 GAA overall is second in the NHL behind Josh Harding (1.65 GAA) of the Minnesota Wild.
Here is the Devils' expected lineup:
Injured: Peter Harrold (foot)