With Lars Eller a late scratch for Thursday's game due to a family issue and no time or cap space to bring in an additional forward, the Capitals were forced to dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen against the Philadelphia Flyers. Jonas Siegenthaler was the seventh defenseman, getting his first game since Feb. 4 and played a grand total of 28 seconds.
That's not a typo.
Siegenthaler did not play until the final shift of the entire game, playing out the remaining 28 seconds.
Following the game, head coach Peter Laviolette stressed that the decision was not about Siegenthaler but was more about the strength of the current top six on the blue line.
“This is nothing on Siegie at all," Laviolette said. "We went in with a plan to play the 11 forwards and double shift people to try to keep the lines, I guess, as familiar as we have in the last couple games. So we decided just to double shift the three centermen and [T.J. Oshie] into the middle between [Conor Sheary] and Richard Panik and we were going to play six defensemen."
The Caps have played one other game this season with seven defensemen in a 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Feb. 4. That was something Laviolette really did not want to do again.
"So it becomes really difficult juggling seven defensemen," Laviolette said. "You do it because if you have an injury or if something pops up on the bench, you dressed the player and you dress to the maximum of 20. So this had nothing to do with Jonas at all and we were just playing the six defensemen that we’ve been going with. It’s difficult to roll seven. It takes people out of the loop and they lose rhythm with different partners.”
Siegenthaler played only 7:00 in the Feb. 4 game which was the lowest among all defensemen.
Clearly Laviolette sees something he likes in the team's top six on defense as currently constructed, so much so that he would rather go shorthanded than change the defensive pairs.