The Capitals have recalled defenseman Cameron Schilling from AHL Hershey and he will play against the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at Verizon Center. The injuries on the blueline have begun to mount. Defenseman John Erskine was placed on injured reserve Tuesday morning with an upper-body injury. That move is retroactive to Sunday when he sat out the game against the New York Rangers and the team is hopeful he can play next Sunday against the Buffalo Sabres at home.
Meanwhile, defenseman Tom Poti is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. That’s two left-handed shooting defenseman, making the Schilling recall necessary. Washington coach Adam Oates likes to employ players on their proper side and Schilling is also a lefty shooter. He will pair with fellow Hershey recall Steve Oleksy and make his NHL debut. Oleksy himself has played all of four NHL games after being recalled March 4.
Add in continued injuries to Mike Green (groin) and Jack Hillen (shoulder) and the loss on waivers of veteran Roman Hamrlik last week and you have an organization dipping deep into its depth pool. Green participated in the morning skate on Tuesday, but is still “a ways away” from playing, but was happy to be back on the ice.
Braden Holtby will start in goal for Washington in what amounts to a must-win pair of games against the first-place Hurricanes, who lead the Southeast Division. It is his 13th start in the last 14 games – though he was pulled during the second period a 4-1 loss to the Rangers on Sunday. The Caps (10-13-1, 21 points) play Carolina (14-9-1, 29 points) twice this week with the rematch Thursday in Raleigh. The healthy scratches for Tuesday’s game are forward Aaron Volpatti and Joey Crabb.
Oates moved versatile forward Matt Hendricks to center against the Hurricanes. He had been filling in as the top-line left wing. But Marcus Johansson played well enough on Sunday in his return to earn another shot in that spot with Alex Ovechkin and Mike Ribeiro. That’s where Johansson began the year, but ineffective play, possibly due to a training-camp concussion, eventually led to a stint on injured reserve.
“I saw what I saw on the tape, watching the playoffs last year,” Oates said of Johansson. “I really saw some energy and skating and being a bit of a hound on the puck and making good decisions. You know, maybe that hit in training camp did hurt him where he was trying to fight through it and didn’t have the pace I saw the other night.”
Here is the expected lineup against Carolina with six defensemen who all have seen time with Hershey – three of them this season.
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