As the Washington Capitals head to Sunrise for Game 5 against the Florida Panthers, head coach Peter Laviolette and the team are also monitoring the team’s AHL-affiliate Hershey Bears.
Hershey’s season came to an end on Monday after the team fell to the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins in Game 3 in the best-of-3 opening round of the Calder Cup Playoffs. With the season now over for the Bears, Washington has more flexibility for call-ups and “black aces” going forward.
“We’re gonna talk about all that today and have a plan,” head coach Peter Laviolette said on Tuesday with regard to call-ups.
While it’s still early in the Capitals’ postseason, injuries happen, as evident from Tom Wilson’s Game 1 injury. That’s where black aces, which are depth players who are recalled for a playoff run, come in.
Right now, Connor McMichael and Axel Jonsson-Fjallby are the two extra forwards currently on hand. Michal Kempny and Matt Irwin are serving as the extra blueliners. Hunter Shepard, meanwhile, is the third goalie behind Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek.
A few options include Aliaksei Protas and Brett Leason, two versatile forwards who can bring size and speed to the lineup. They’ve also played in plenty of NHL games this season. Joe Snively, who was in Hershey on a long-term conditioning loan, could also return to continue rehab up in D.C. In addition, veterans Mike Sgarbossa and Mike Vecchione could be go-to options as well. More potential names to watch: Beck Malenstyn and Garrett Pilon.
The Capitals will face Florida on Wednesday for Game 5 with the series knotted 2-2 before heading back to D.C. for Game 6 on Friday. Washington must win two of the next three games to advance to the second round.