September 29 vs. Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena
Time: 1:30 p.m.
Radio: Capitals Radio 24/7
The Caps conclude their six-game preseason schedule on Sunday afternoon in Raleigh when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes. The two teams met on Sept. 21 in Washington for an exhibition match, with the Caps skating away with a 3-2 victory.
Typically, the last preseason game is a bit of a dress rehearsal for the regular season, as most of the roster spot battles have been settled. But this fall is different for the Caps. They had six preseason games rather than the usual seven. They will be missing center Evgeny Kuznetsov for the first three games of the season because of a league suspension. Defenseman Michal Kempny is still rehabbing from offseason surgery and is doubtful for the start of the regular season, and they're still carrying 28 players on their roster just two days ahead of the deadline for establishing opening day rosters.
When the Capitals returned from a two-game Midwest road trip in the wee hours of Saturday morning, they had 34 players, but they sent half a dozen prospects to AHL Hershey ahead of a Saturday afternoon practice session. When they take the ice on Sunday afternoon in Raleigh, they'll still have some unsettled lineup slots and roster spots.
"I think we've had a strong camp," says Caps coach Todd Reirden. "I really liked our game [Wednesday] in Chicago. [Friday in St. Louis] there were some positive things that happened as well. We'll continue to evaluate and figure out who is going to be on our opening night lineup. It's still a competition for some guys. I've liked our commitment in a number of different areas, whether that's blocking shots or guys tracking pucks from behind or standing up for one another, there has been a lot of really solid things."
With Kempny unlikely to play in the opener, the left side slot of Washington's top defensive pairing - alongside John Carlson - is open. Among the candidates to full that role for Wednesday night's season opener in St. Louis are Christian Djoos, Martin Fehervary and Jonas Siegenthaler.
"I've liked the looks of a couple of different things," says Reirden, "whether it's Fehervary, a guy who is young and up and coming, and a guy who is similar to Kempny in terms of how he plays. We've seen Christian Djoos with his ability to make plays from that side, and Siegenthaler for us is a guy with a big body that can skate well and can defend against top guys.
"So we've got a couple of really good options, and we'll take a look at some different combinations again [Sunday] and see how that goes."
Video: Todd Reirden | September 28
Siegenthaler gets the slot alongside Carlson on Sunday in Carolina, and Fehervary will skate the left side of a pairing with Radko Gudas. Djoos will have the day off after skating almost 18 minutes in Friday night's 4-3 loss to the Blues in St. Louis, Washington's lone setback in five exhibitions.
Braden Holtby will start in goal for Washington on Sunday, and is likely - but not certain - to go the distance.
Carolina is also playing the last of its six exhibition games on Sunday. The Canes are 2-2-1 to date in the preseason. The Canes made a big deal earlier in the week, sending longtime blueline stalwart Justin Faulk to the St. Louis Blues for defenseman Joel Edmundson and forward prospect Dominik Bokk.
Edmundson made his Canes debut on Friday against Nashville, skating on a pairing with Brett Pesce. That same night in St. Louis, Faulk made his debut in a Blues sweater against the Capitals.
Carolina still has a handful of cuts to make to its roster ahead of its Oct. 3 season opener against Montreal, and the Canes are also dealing with some injury issues. Forwards Ryan Dzingel and Martin Necas are ailing as are defensemen Jake Gardiner and Trevor van Riemsdyk, and none of those four players are expected to play on Sunday against the Capitals.