1. Devante-Smith Playoffs
In the wake of the injury to T.J. Oshie (no supplemental discipline for Warren Foegele, by the way), the Caps have made a roster move...
NEWS | Capitals have recalled forward Devante Smith-Pelly from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL) and re-assigned goaltender Vitek Vanecek to Hershey#ALLCAPS #CapsCanes https://t.co/jv7AndIfIU— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) April 19, 2019
Well, two moves, actually, as the third goalie shuffle (my favorite 80s sports rap) continues. But that first move is more than just administrative work...
Reirden said Smith-Pelly will be in the lineup right away.— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) April 19, 2019
On paper, is that the best lineup decision, or are the Caps looking for some of them sweet, sweet intangibles? Maybe a bit of both. Here’s Todd Reirden:
“(The Hurricanes) are a high shot-volume team … so in D-zone coverage, he’s an excellent shot-blocker (and) pays the price that way. And when things get more difficult, he seems to relish in that and step up to the plate and obviously delivered some big goals for us (in ’18). Those are some things we’re looking for. We need his impact and we’re going to need four lines of impact and six defensemen to be able to come up with Game 5 here.”
In reality, they need more than that.
Anyone in particular, Todd?
#Caps HC Todd Reirden: On Evgeny Kuznetsov only playing 16 minutes in Game 4. "There's lots of things that go on, within your team."— Chris Russell (@Russellmania621) April 19, 2019
"I expect more from him in Game 5."
This has been an issue for most of the series. @1067theFan
We all do.
Reirden on adjustments: “I would expect to see some different things from us tomorrow.”— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) April 19, 2019
Just seeing this guy back in the lineup might be enough for some...
2. Jonas Up
After opening the series by forcing John Carlson to play on his off-side, it looks like Reirden has decided to make a little change on the blueline headed into Game 5:
Caps projected Game 5 lineup:— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) April 20, 2019
That’s rookie Jonas Siegenthaler slotting in on the left next to right-sided Carlson, pushing Nick Jensen down to the third pair with Brooks Orpik where he started his Caps’ tenure.
While Carlson and Siegenthaler haven’t spent a ton of time together this season - just over 12 minutes at even strength, way too small a sample to draw significant conclusions from - this seems like one of the better options available (although your guess is as good as ours as to why that second pair of 2-9 seems glued together).
Granted, nothing is carved in stone with this defense:
I don’t know how much Siegenthaler will actually play with Carlson during the game. Pairs will probably rotate a decent amount again.— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) April 20, 2019
Hagelin moves into top six with Oshie out.
But on the surface this is a positive sign. Anything that moves Carlson back to the right is good, and Siegenthaler has proven time and again, including in his playoff debut last game, that he’s able to handle whatever’s thrown at him. All in all, looks like a smart move by the coaching staff.
3. Past as Prologue
If you’re looking for some encouraging stats from the recent-to-less-recent past, there’s “the road team hasn’t led yet in this series,” that the Caps have won their last five Games 5 on home ice (Pittsburgh and Columbus last year, Pittsburgh and Toronto the year before and Pittsburgh in 2016), and that they’ve won five-straight series that were tied 2-2 (Tampa, Pittsburgh and Columbus last year, Toronto the year before and the Islanders in 2015).
In other words, been there, done that.
And here’s one more:
If it makes you feel any better, the Caps had a good record without Oshie this season pic.twitter.com/IgofYA7s9g— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) April 19, 2019
In reality, there’s only one thing that’s going to make Caps fans feel better today, and we should know in 12 hours or so whether or not it came through.