Finally, The Finale - The Caps and the Hurricanes hook up in the exhibition finale for both sides on Sunday afternoon in Raleigh. It's the second meeting between the two teams in the preseason; the Caps prevailed 3-2 in Washington on Sept. 21.
The two Metropolitan Division rivals will see one another again in less than a week. Carolina supplies the opposition for the Capitals' home opener next Saturday at Capital One Arena.
Missing Man - Caps center Lars Eller was originally slated to suit up for Sunday's game, but he is now going to be a late scratch instead. Because it's an afternoon game and the Caps didn't conduct a morning skate before their flight to Raleigh on Sunday morning, we don't have any firm word on the reason for Eller's absence, but should learn more after the game.
Shane Gersich, who was sent to Hershey on Saturday morning, gets a one-game reprieve. He was summoned to join the Caps on the trip and is expected to play on the fourth line against Carolina.
I'm Your Captain - Prior to the start of Sunday's game, the Hurricanes announced that center Jordan Staal will serve as the Carolina captain for the 2019-20 season. Ex-Cap Justin Williams was the Canes' captain last season, but Williams hasn't signed a contract for this season and is unsure of his playing future.
Defenseman Jaccob Slavin and forward Jordan Martinook were named as alternate captains for Carolina for the upcoming campaign.
In The Nets - Braden Holtby will start on Sunday for Washington, getting the crease for a second straight start. He is likely to go the distance, but it is not a certainty. Holtby got his first preseason start on Friday, stopping 21 of 25 shots he faced in a 4-3 loss to the Blues in St. Louis.
Playing every other day to conclude the preseason sets Holtby up to start the regular season on two days of rest, and he should be able to slide into an every other day routine for much of October, a rhythm that has proved to be beneficial to him over the course of his NHL career to date.
"I'm sure that come Carolina, we'll be close to the roster that we are going to sport for game one [of the regular season]," Holtby said on Friday. "Especially with new faces, to try and get used to each other before game one is a benefit, and to get in that rhythm for the real thing."
There will be some new faces on the Washington blueline this season, most notably Radko Gudas, but Martin Fehervary has put himself firmly in position to start the season in Washington as well with a strong training camp and preseason showing. A big part of the preseason is firming up communication between the blueliners and Holtby.
"It's bigger on the back end for communication purposes and stuff like that," says Holtby. "The young guys have been great. Obviously Marty is just coming over [from the Swedish League], but the other guys have played under the same kind of system and the language that we use, so that helps. And then Radko has been around the game a ton, and he is a very personable guy. So that's been an easy one to get on the same page with."
Like the Caps, the Canes still have three goaltenders on their roster at this late juncture of the preseason. We're expecting to see Petr Mrazek get the crease for Carolina on Sunday against the Caps. The Hurricanes are also carrying James Reimer and Anton Forsberg. Reimer is likely to nail down the second goalie slot on the Canes' roster while Forsberg mans the third spot on the organizational depth chart, meaning he is likely to see the lion's share of the netminding duties at AHL Charlotte.
All Lined Up - Because of the late scrtach of Eller, we aren't certain of how the Caps will lineup today. But here is a best guess at how we expect the Caps to look and the Canes' roster for Sunday's preseason finale from Raleigh:
28-Leipsic, 19-Backstrom, 43-Wilson
13-Vrana, 92-Kuznetsov, 77-Oshie
72-Boyd, 18-Stephenson, 14-Panik
63-Gersich, 23-Sgarbossa, 21-Hathaway