The Washington Capitals will look to even up the series against the New York Islanders this Tuesday, however they’ll have to do so without the services of centre Eric Fehr, who left game three after taking a solid hit from Islanders forward Kyle Okposo. Fehr did not return to the game and has been ruled out for at least the next two games, however head coach Barry Trotz has confirmed that the injury is not related to the shoulder, which forced Fehr to miss the final few games of the regular season.
Forwards Andre Burakovsky and Michael Latta appear to be the two top candidates to take Fehr’s spot in games four and five. Marcus Johansson is also battling through pain and a lower-body injury. While he was limited during practice,he is expected to play in game four.
A fixture on the Capitals third line, Fehr solidified the perfect combination of what a shut-down line should look like. Limiting the opposition’s chances while adding some secondary scoring, the 29-year-old nearly hit the 20-goal mark in the regular season. Playing on a line with Jason Chimera and Jay Beagle, the third line was excellent in game two and looked completely unglued once Fehr went down with his injury in game three. It is expected that Troy Brouwer will move up to the third line, while Burakovsky or Latta would join the fourth line.
In 53 games this season, Burakovsky has 22 points (9 goals, 13 assists). The 20-year old Austrian born player (who plays for Sweden internationally) has an excellent combination of speed and skill, but has yet to taste the postseason spotlight. Latta, 23, has 6 assists in 53 games with the Capitals this season, however his 6’0, 200 pound frame can be used on the fourth line to bang bodies around and keep the opposition honest. Trotz is expected to announce his decision tomorrow, following the Capitals morning skate. We will have to see if he decides to go with more skill or more grit in the line-up.
Should Johansson be unavailable to play in game four, expect Burakovsky to slip into the second line while Latta will take the fourth line duties.