Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette told the media that he will wait to see how forward Tom Wilson, who missed Sunday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday with a lower-body injury, feels on Tuesday prior to the team’s game against the New York Islanders (7 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington locally, NBCSN nationally) before deciding whether or not to put him in the lineup. He added that “it’s always positive” when an injured player skates but wants to wait and see what his options are for Tuesday’s game as it is early in the season.
On goaltender Vitek Vanecek, who has assumed the Capitals’ No. 1 goalie job with Ilya Samsonov out with COVID-19, Laviolette thinks that “so far, he’s been really good. … He’s been really good in the games” and has given the team a chance to win. “[He] seems a little more confident,” he added. Laviolette also said that Vanecek will feel more comfortable the more he plays.
When asked about the Capitals’ defense, which has averaged 3.17 goals-against per game (12th-most in the NHL) so far this season, Laviolette replied “defensively, we’ve been ok. … There have been strides on the defensive game.” He feels like the team is still trying to establish an identity and find their stride. He noted that Samsonov, captain Alex Ovechkin, center Evgeny Kuznetsov, and defenseman Dmitry Orlov, who are all on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list, will have to catch-up when they return. “We’re still ways to go from feeling very comfortable with it.”
“I think there have been some things we’ve been inconsistent with,” Laviolette said on his assessment of the Capitals through six games. However, he has seen some good stuff that he could pull out and said that it is “a little more challenging” as a first-year head coach.
After defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler skated with the scratches on Monday, Laviolette told the media that “It was hard for him to sit out. … I thought he was strong in his first game and played another strong game yesterday.”
By Harrison Brown