The Capitals activated defenseman Tomas Kundratek from injured reserve Saturday afternoon, but he wasn’t on the ice for warmups here at First Niagara Center and won’t play against Buffalo. Kundratek will miss an eighth straight game since suffering a sprained right MCL at Carolina on March 14.
To make room for Kundratek on the active roster the Capitals placed Eric Fehr, who is out with an upper-body injury and is not on the trip, on injured reserve. The active roster has a maximum of 23 players until the trade deadline.
It’s uncertain who will be out against the Sabres if Kundratek does play, but given Coach Adam Oates’s preference for playing a left- and right-handed defensemen on each pairing right-handed Steve Oleksy could be the odd man out.
The Capitals have nine defensemen on the trip – Tom Poti (back) stayed back in Washington – which makes for a crowded blue line. Both Oates and General Manager George McPhee like having extra defensemen around in case injuries pop up as they so often have this year, but it’s worth wondering if Capitals might use that depth to their advantage with the trade deadline approaching.
McPhee said Friday he didn’t feel pressure to reduce the number of defensemen.
“We’ve needed 11 defensemen this year and you always seem to need more D than what you have,” McPhee said. “So I’m comfortable with what we have. And we’ll see what develops. But I like having lots of defensemen around.”
Saturday afternoon the Sabres, who sit with the same number of points (31) as the Capitals heading into tonight’s game, also made a move with one of their defensemen.
Buffalo traded top-four defenseman Jordan Leopold to the St. Louis Blues for a second round pick and a conditional fifth rounder in the 2013 draft. With the trade rookie Mark Pysyk, who made his NHL debut against the Capitals on March 17, will face Washington tonight.
Faceoff: 7 p.m. First Niagara Center | TV: CSN | Radio: 106.7
Discuss the game in the comment section below and based on warmups here’s what the lineup should look like:
Goal: Holtby, Neuvirth.
Scratches: Aaron Volpatti, Tomas Kundratek and Dmitry Orlov.
IR: Eric Fehr (upper body), John Erskine (left hand/wrist) and Tom Poti (back).