Sept. 29 vs. Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Radio: Capitals Radio 24/7
Washington Capitals 1-4-0
Carolina Hurricanes 4-2-0
The Capitals finish off their 2017 preseason slate with a pair of weekend road games. First up is a Friday night visit to Raleigh, where they'll take on the Carolina Hurricanes. Washington concludes its exhibition season in St. Louis on Sunday afternoon.
Washington faced Metropolitan Division rival Carolina last Saturday at Capital One Arena, falling 4-1. Friday's rematch in Carolina is the preseason finale for the Hurricanes.
Three of the Caps' four preseason losses came by 4-1 final scores; the other was a 4-0 loss to St. Louis. The Caps' lone win was a 4-2 triumph over the Canadiens in Montreal on Wednesday of last week. Most recently, the Caps dropped a 4-1 decision to the Devils on Wednesday in D.C., falling down 4-0 before the game was 15 minutes old.
"I feel like we harp on starts a lot, and they mean a lot," says Caps defenseman John Carlson. "We can't put ourselves in that hole and be that sloppy and expect to do well in that game. It's all stuff we talk about all the time over the length of the season and what happens, but certainly you'd hope for a better start than we had tonight."
Winning isn't of paramount importance during the preseason, but the Caps have looked far short of crisp through most of their 15 preseason periods to date. Some of that is to be expected, given the variance in the lineup from night to night. But with the start of the regular season less than a week away, the Caps are still seeking to achieve consistency.
"The details in our game, a lot of passes are being missed," notes Caps coach Barry Trotz. "Some guys aren't sharp. We're putting a lot of pucks into space and off the glass, and we should be more of a tape-to-tape team. We're not there. Some of our decisions are weak, if you will. We've got to make stronger decisions, smarter decisions than we are, and if we do, we'll get some speed back into our game and get some more production."
Washington has been outscored by a combined total of 18-7 in its five exhibition games, and it has managed just two goals at even strength.
After Wednesday's loss to the Devils, the Capitals enjoyed a scheduled day off on Thursday. The team did announce a quartet of roster trims, sending goaltender Pheonix Copley, defensemen Tyler Lewington and Jonas Siegenthaler, and center Travis Boyd to AHL Hershey. Those parings leave Washington with 26 players in camp. All NHL teams must cut down to the 23-man roster limit ahead of Tuesday's 5 p.m. deadline to do so.
Washington is likely to cut three more forwards and one defenseman before Tuesday, but other combinations are also possible. For Friday's game against the Hurricanes, the Caps will dress four defensemen and six forwards who are still in competition for opening night.
Blueliners Madison Bowey, Taylor Chorney, Christian Djoos and Aaron Ness will suit up in Raleigh as will forwards Alex Chiasson, Tyler Graovac, Devante Smith-Pelly, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana and Nathan Walker. Washington winger Tom Wilson will also return to action after serving his NHL-mandated, two-game suspension for a hit on St. Louis center Robert Thomas last week.
Carolina concludes its own seven-game preseason slate with Friday's contest. The Hurricanes come into the game on the heels of a 4-0 home ice loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday. Two days earlier, the Hurricanes handed the Oilers a 6-1 setback up in Edmonton.
After shaving six players off its roster on Thursday, Carolina is down to 27 players (17 forwards, eight defensemen and two netminders) as it heads into Friday's game with the Capitals. The Hurricanes don't open their regular season schedule until a week from Saturday when they host Minnesota.