Nov. 1 vs. Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Radio: Capitals Radio 24/7, FAN 106.7
Washington Capitals 5-3-2
Montreal Canadiens 6-3-2
The Caps finish off a four-game Canadian tour and start the November portion of their schedule on Thursday when they face the Canadiens in Montreal. Washington is 2-1-0 on the trip to date, earning wins in Vancouver and Calgary sandwiched around a loss in Edmonton a week ago.
Along with the ongoing absence of right wing Tom Wilson because of a 20-game league suspension, Washington has had a couple of injuries to deal with in the early going of the season. Defenseman Michal Kempny missed the first two games of the season with a concussion and center Travis Boyd has yet to play because of a lower body injury. Both of those ailments were sustained late in the preseason, but now the Caps are also dealing with an in-season injury for the first time.
Defenseman Brooks Orpik suffered a lower body injury in Saturday's 4-3 shootout win over the Flames in Calgary, and he will not make the trip to Montreal. The Caps have sent Boyd to AHL Hershey on an injury rehab basis, and they've recalled blueliner Aaron Ness from the Bears.
Video: Todd Reirden | October 31
"Brooks is day-to-day and will not be traveling with us," Caps coach Todd Reirden told reporters after the team's Wednesday practice at MedStar Capitals Iceplex. "Boyd is cleared [to play]. We think the best spot for him - because he hasn't played a game since training camp - is he is going to go to Hershey and play Friday night there. And then the plan is for him to play Friday-Saturday and then come back.
"I think that's the right thing to do for a player like that, and that really sets him up for success so that when he gets back here, he is here and he is in the lineup and he isn't ever going to leave the lineup. That's the plan and I think sometimes when you have a guy - regardless of experience or non-experience, whatever the factor is - the time without playing games is difficult to replicate in practice, and I think this is a perfect situation for him to go there and play well and then be back, he'll be back on Sunday."
Hershey has a busy weekend of three games in as many nights, beginning with a road game at Rochester on Friday and a home game against the same foe on Saturday at Giant Center. Boyd would play in those two games for the Bears, and if all goes well would return to Washington and would then be available for the team's Nov. 5 home game against Edmonton.
With Orpik sidelined on a day-to-day basis, Madison Bowey will remain in the lineup for the Caps. Bowey skated in Washington's most recent game on Saturday against the Flames in Calgary, the first action he saw since Oct. 4. Djoos sat out that contest, but Bowey and Djoos will comprise Washington's third blueline pairing at the outset of Thursday's game against the Canadiens.
Video: Braden Holtby | October 31
"They are a young pair," concedes Reirden, "but they both have spent a lot of time here and have played in important situations. Obviously Djoos last year played in a large majority of the playoff games after the first two games, and I thought he had a really strong playoff for us.
"This is the growth of them as young players, to see where they are at and to see how they do in these situations. That's how we'll start the game, and throughout the game they'll probably play with other players as well, just to give you guys a heads up on that. But those will be our three pairs to start the game."
Montreal has missed out on the playoffs for two straight seasons, the first time it has achieved that dubious status since a three-season drought at the turn of this century. The Habs are now a quarter century removed from the most recent of their 24 Stanley Cup championships, the longest championship drought in the franchise's proud history.
Video: Rinkside Update | Andre Burakovsky
With elite teams such as Tampa Bay, Toronto and Boston populating the Atlantic Division, most pundits predicted also-ran status for the Canadiens once again in 2018-19, but the Habs fooled some folks by getting off to a swift start. Fueled by a strong defense and the goaltending of a healthy Carey Price, the Canadiens won four of their first six games, and they've broken even (2-2-1) in the five games since. Montreal has permitted 2.64 goals per game thus far, the sixth best rate in the league.
After winning four of their first five home games on the season, the Habs fell to Dallas on Tuesday night, losing 4-1 in the opening game of a three-game homestand. After the Caps' Thursday night visit, Montreal will entertain Tampa Bay at Bell Centre on Saturday night.