Aaron Volpatti and Tom Poti will be healthy scratches for the Washington Capitals on Thursday night against the Florida Panthers.
Volpatti is out because right wing Troy Brouwer is back from his one-game absence because of an illness and because coach Adam Oates said Wojtek Wolski had a strong performance Tuesday against the Boston Bruins.
Wolski will start on the fourth line with Mathieu Perreault and Joey Crabb. Oates wants to see more than just production from the 27-year-old.
“Everybody’s got a leash,” Oates said Wednesday. “Scoring is secondary to that. The scoring will come if you do that. The more we’re in their end, the more we’ll score. The more we whiff it in our own end, the more we’re in trouble.”
Volpatti played 3:43 Tuesday against the Bruins. He got put through an extended scratches skate workout with assistant coach Tim Hunter on Thursday morning.
Jeff Schultz will replace Poti on the Caps’ third defensive pair alongside Steve Oleksy. Oates said if one of the defenseman stands out, it will be easier for him to stick in the lineup.
Every Caps player except the injured Mike Green (groin) and Brooks Laich (groin) was on the ice for Thursday’s morning skate. That included defenseman Jack Hillen, who’s expected to miss another 2-4 weeks with an upper-body injury, and forward Marcus Johansson (concussion), who passed a neuropsychological test Tuesday to be cleared for contact.
Laich stepped on in sneakers after the rest of his teammates left. He was lofting pucks to Graham McPhee, son of Caps general manager George McPhee.
Braden Holtby makes his 11th straight start in net. He’ll be opposed by new Panthers starter Jacob Markstrom. Philipp Grubauer, recalled from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, is expected to serve as Holtby’s backup with Michal Neuvirth sick.
The lines and pairings are expected to be similar to Tuesday night’s overtime victory over the Boston Bruins, with Brouwer back:
Matt Hendricks - Mike Ribeiro - Alex Ovechkin
Eric Fehr - Nicklas Backstrom - Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera - Jay Beagle - Joel Ward
Wojtek Wolski - Mathieu Perreault - Joey Crabb
Karl Alzner - Tomas Kundratek
John Erskine - John Carlson
Jeff Schultz - Steve Oleksy