The flu bug is making its rounds in the Washington Capitals locker room. Earlier this month, Taylor Chorney fell ill, and this week, Marcus Johansson missed a game because of flu-like symptoms. Now, Michael Latta missed a morning skate on Friday because he’s got the flu.
Coach Barry Trotz said Latta will “probably not” play against the Minnesota Wild on Friday night.
“He will be evaluated this afternoon,” Trotz said.
Stanislav Galiev will get a third straight game in the lineup, significant for a player who’s only played in 17 games this season. He said Wednesday was his best performance of the season, as he got 11 minutes 24 seconds of ice time as a fourth-liner and had an assist to be a plus-one for the game.
“It helps when you get a little bit of confidence,” Galiev said. “It’s much easier when you play back to back games.”
Trotz and General Manager Brian MacLellan have been complimentary of Galiev recently, both bullish on his future in the organization. MacLellan said he’s been on the roster all season because he’d require waivers to be sent down to the American Hockey League, and the Capitals aren’t “comfortable with cutting the cord with him yet.” That was nice for Galiev to hear.
“If they keep me here and they don’t put me on waivers, then I mean something to this organization,” Galiev said. “It actually helps clear your mind a little bit. You don’t have to be worried, like if they like me or not. You just focus on your games. When I’m on the ice, you just try to play and don’t think about it.”
Trotz restored his old top-six forward lines, reuniting Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, which moved Andre Burakovsky back onto the second line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Justin Williams.
There could also be a change in the defense, as Chorney didn’t stay late on the ice, as a scratched player typically would. Trotz said he would “possibly” play against the Wild, but he wasn’t clear on who he’d be in the lineup for. As Dmitry Orlov is the team’s sixth defenseman, it’s likely that if Chorney played, Orlov would be the scratch.
Orlov had a bad turnover in the defensive zone that led to Montreal’s first goal on Wednesday night, but then he later scored his sixth goal of the season.
“You don’t want to take the creativity out of Orly,” Trotz said. “I just said, ‘Make real good hockey decisions.’ He’s best when he makes good hockey decisions coming out of our zone, and I give all the players lots of freedom to do what they do offensively. That’s the only thing, just make good plays and good instinctive, solid plays coming out of our zone, so that we don’t have any turnovers that can end up in the back of our net.”
Here’s what the lineup is expected to look like against Minnesota:
Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie
Andre Burakovsky-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Justin Williams
Jason Chimera-Marcus Johansson-Tom Wilson
Brooks Laich-Mike Richards-Stanislav Galiev
Nate Schmidt-John Carlson
Karl Alzner-Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik-Dmitry Orlov OR Taylor Chorney
Braden Holtby (starter)
Michael Latta (illness)
Dmitry Orlov OR Taylor Chorney
Jay Beagle (hand)