“I don’t really have a real good update,” Coach Barry Trotz said after Wednesday’s game. “Obviously, he took that hit. For precautionary reasons, we kept him out. … He took a big hit. He’s an important piece for us.”
With Niskanen out, expect the Capitals to recall a defenseman Thursday afternoon. According to CapFriendly.com, the Capitals have $821,587 in cap space, enough for them to recall any defenseman from their American Hockey League affiliate in Hershey. Defenseman Taylor Chorney is expected to play over any call-up, though, as he has played well in the four games he’s been in the lineup.
Niskanen, who has nine assists, is an all-situations defenseman who has averaged 22:39 playing a shutdown role at even strength with additional penalty-kill and power-play responsibilities. He was recently paired with Dmitry Orlov on defense, but once he was knocked out of the game, Orlov skated mostly with Brooks Orpik, a possible pairing for Friday night.
Here’s a guess at what the defensive pairs might be Friday night without Niskanen:
Karl Alzner-John Carlson
Brooks Orpik-Dmitry Orlov
Nate Schmidt-Taylor Chorney