Holtby and Backstrom have high hopes this season
Brooks Laich left Tuesday’s practice a few minutes early with “tightness” in his lower body, according to a team spokesman.
Laich missed all but nine games last season with groin problems, and he strained his left hip flexor on the first day of training camp.
He played 20 minutes in the Caps’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Bruins on Monday night and appeared fine through the first 40 minutes of practice, where he skated on a line with Mikhail Grabovski and Eric Fehr.
With three preseason games left on their exhibition schedule and six days remaining before they must submit their 23-man roster to the NHL, the Capitals trimmed their training camp roster again on Tuesday morning.
Defensemen Patrick Wey and Nate Schmidt joined forward Garrett Mitchell on a trip back to Hershey, where they’ll join the Bears for their training camp.
That left the Caps with 31 players at practice on Monday at Kettler, where Martin Erat spent some time centering a third line with left wing Jason Chimera and right wing Troy Brouwer.
One of the reasons for the jumbled lines was the fact Joel Ward sat out practice with a “maintenance” day.
Ward participated in a full practice on Monday and did not play in Boston.
Among the extra forwards, look for Dane Byers, Michael Latta and Joel Rechlicz to be sent to Hershey later today or early tomorrow. That would leave the Caps with 14 forwards to enter the season.
On the blue line, Michal Cajkovsky and Tyson Strachan are expected to be sent to Hershey, which would reduce that group to nine.
The Caps will likely carry 14 forwards and seven defensemen to start the season, which means two other defenseman would need to go. The Caps are set with their top five defensemen – Mike Green [righty], Karl Alzner [lefty], John Carlson [righty], John Erskine [lefty] and Jack Hillen [lefty].
That leaves four others battling for the sixth and seventh spots – Steve Oleksy [righty], Dmitry Orlov [lefty], Tomas Kundratek [righty] and Connor Carrick [righty].
At least one of those right-hand shots will be the sixth defenseman and Oleksy has done nothing to prove he does not belong.
It Oleksy is the Caps’ sixth defensemen, the battle for the seventh spot comes down to Orlov, 22, Kundratek, 23, and Carrick, 19. While Oates said it’s likely Carrick begins the season in Hershey, he did not rule out carrying him as an extra defenseman.