Coach Adam Oates will continue tinkering and experimenting with the lineup over the Capitals’ final two preseason games this weekend, seeking additional looks at players in game situations before the team must trim the roster by 3 p.m. Monday.
Friday night against the Flyers at Verizon Center will once again feature a mishmash of experienced veterans and youngsters looking to impress organizational brass, and the same will be true Saturday for the preseason finale in Chicago.
“We’re really just trying to figure out what we’re going to do to start the year and how we’re going to get into our groove with the guys we have and the decisions we have to make,” Oates said after the morning skate Friday. “Trying to give [General Manager] George [McPhee] as many opportunities to look at guys in different situations and experiment a little bit and just try to figure out the puzzle.”
Keep in mind that Alex Ovechkin won’t play in the preseason finale because he’ll be en route to Olympia, Greece, for the lighting of the Olympic torch, and Nicklas Backstrom isn’t expected to face the Blackhawks Saturday either because his girlfriend is nearly due to give birth to the couple’s first child.
Here’s what the projected lineup vs. the Flyers, who are expected to use their full NHL lineup, except for Jakub Voracek (upper-body injury).
Marcus Johansson – Nicklas Backstrom – Alex Ovechkin
Jason Chimera – Mikhail Grabovski – Tom Wilson
Dane Byers – Mathieu Perreault – Eric Fehr
Aaron Volpatti – Michael Latta – Joel Rechlicz
Karl Alzner – Connor Carrick
Dmitry Orlov – Steve Oleksy
Michal Cajkovsky – Tyson Strachan
>> Brooks Laich, who has been bothered by a left hip flexor injury, skated and took part in a full practice for the first time since taking himself off the ice Tuesday. Laich will not face the Flyers and his status for Saturday in Chicago is uncertain.
“No decision [for Saturday],” Oates said. “One skate, I don’t know. I think Tuesday makes more sense but we’ll see.”
Oates said he isn’t concerned about Laich, who has appeared in only one preseason game, suiting up for the season opener even if he is unable to play in either game this weekend.
>> Joel Ward, who missed Thursday’s practice with a stomach illness, participated fully in practice on Friday.