Tomas Vokoun, Alex Ovechkin, Marcus Johansson, Roman Hamrlik

After two-game losing streak, Washington makes moves

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While back-to-back losses in Edmonton and Vancouver aren’t cause for full-scale panic, the Washington Capitals made some rather small-yet-curious moves prior to tonight’s game against Anaheim:

John Erskine will draw in and make his season debut after undergoing shoulder surgery. The rugged defenseman will be a welcome addition to a team that allowed a season-high seven goals to the Canucks on Saturday.

“We’ve been waiting awhile to get him back,” Caps head coach Bruce Boudreau told the Washington Post. “Hopefully there’s not too much rust on him; I’m sure there’s gonna be some but hopefully it’s not too much.”

— To make room for Erskine, Sean Collins was returned to Hershey of the AHL. Collins pretty much sealed his fate against Vancouver by going minus-2 in just over nine minutes of ice time.

Rookie F Cody Eakin was called up from Hershey and should make his NHL debut against the Ducks after Jeff Halpern skated with the healthy scratches this morning. Halpern only played 11:59 against Vancouver and was bad in the faceoff circle (1-for-5, 16.7 percent), though Boudreau was quick to explain this isn’t him sending a message.

“I don’t like using the word ‘messages’. It’s just we’ve got 13 forwards right now and wanted to take a look at Cody and it’s the way it worked out,” Boudreau told the Washington Examiner. “Every report we’ve gotten is that [Eakin] has played really, really well down in Hershey. He’s a guy that we really wanted to take a look at. So we thought Hershey only had one game this week and this was a good opportunity for us to take a look at him.”

— Sounds like Mike Knuble’s demotion to the fourth line will extend to tonight’s affair. Knuble has made it clear he’s not happy with the move, probably because his production has been pretty solid thus far. The 39-year-old winger has 2G-4A-6PTS in nine games and is a plus-2, but will be playing alongside a couple of greenhorns in Eakin, 20, and Mathieu Perreault, 24.

These are all small moves, sure, but their timing is the thing. Washington lost two straight after winning seven to start the year and you get the feeling that pissed a few people off. The Caps (Boudreau especially) appear to be all business this year, something Knuble explained to Chuck Gormley of CSN Washington:

“We knew coming in it would be a more competitive season. Maybe seasons before you could rest on your laurels, but that’s not good enough. That’s the way this coach works.”

Dropping like flies: Johnson, Killorn hurt in Bolts’ exhibition

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One
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You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.

We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.

“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.

These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.

Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.

It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.

Raffi Torres gets match penalty for being Raffi Torres

Raffi Torres

With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.

It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:

It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).

As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.

Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:

This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.

Update: Bullet dodged?