The Caps (21-17-2, 44 points) are back at home to start a four game home stand after losing two games on the west coast, both by 5-2 scores, to the Sharks and Kings, as they host the Pittsburgh Penguins for a 7:30 faceoff. The Caps are still without Nicklas Backstrom (head injury, missed both west coast games) and Mike Green (played for 7:11 in the first west coast game then re-injured his groin).
Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter said there are no timetables for Backstrom or Green to return.
“We’re being cautious with him still and he’s not feeling 100 percent,” Hunter said on Backstrom’s injury. “So we [are] just being careful.”
“It’s one of those things where it won’t be long-term,” Hunter said on Green’s injury. “But it just takes time to build it [strength in groin] up more.”
Yesterday the Caps recalled defenseman Tomas Kundratek from AHL Hershey. If he plays tonight it will be his NHL debut. Kundratek, in 21 games in the AHL for Hershey this season, has six goals, two assists and is a +2. Kundratek was traded to Washington from the New York Rangers for Francois Bouchard on Nov. 8, 2011. Kundratek likely will be paired with Roman Hamrlik tonight.
To make room for Kundratek, the Caps have put Nicklas Backstrom on IR, but Backstrom can be recalled anytime.
Tomas Vokoun (16-10-0, 2.66 GAA, .912 Save pct.) is in goal tonight for the Caps. Jeff Schultz & John Erskine are the likely healthy scratches for the Caps.
The Caps forward lines this morning looked like: Ovechkin-Johansson-Semin, Knuble-Laich-Brouwer, Chimera-Halpern-Ward, Hendricks-Perreault-Beagle.
This isn’t the usual Caps/Penguins match-up though as the Penguins (21-16-4, 46 points) are without Sidney Crosby, Dustin Jeffery, Kris LeTang, Paul Martin and Jordan Staal. The Pens are 4-6-0 in their last ten and have lost five in a row as they have a a good amount of AHL players recalled. The Penguins come off a 5-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators last night in Pittsburgh.
Listen here to what Dale Hunter, Alex Ovechkin, Mike Knuble & Tomas Kundratek had to say following the morning skate today.
Dale Hunter Morning Skate Audio
Alex Ovechkin Morning Skate Audio
Mike Knuble Morning Skate Audio
Tomas Kundratek Morning Skate Audio