Familiar Lines Return: News From Thursday’s Capitals Practice

The Washington Capitals were back to work on Thursday morning at MedStar Capitals Iceplex. The team will be off on Friday and then hold one more practice on Saturday before heading to Pittsburgh for a two-game set with the Penguins beginning on Sunday. Puck drop is set for 3:00 p.m. Here’s the latest from MedStar Capitals Iceplex.


The story lines heading into Thursday’s practice included the status of Evgeny Kuznetsov, Ilya Samsonov, and Justin Schultz, and when they might be ready for games. All three players practiced again on Thursday. Their status for the Capitals next game on Sunday is officially “day to day”, but Laviolette indicated that if all goes well they could return on Sunday.


The Capitals practice lines returned to similar lines they had on January 19, before Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, Orlov and Samsonov entered COVID protocol.

Power Play Units

PP1: Carlson, Ovechkin, Backstrom, Vrana, Oshie.
PP2: Schultz, Orlov, Eller, Kuznetsov, Wilson.

It looks like Vitek Vanecek might get the start in goal for the first game against the Penguins on Sunday, although coach Laviolette has not confirmed who the starter will be.

Video: @g_alena13


Nicklas Backstrom

John Carlson

Tom Wilson

Peter Laviolette


  • Nicklas Backstrom leads the Capitals with 17 points (6g, 11a) in 12 games, tied for the fifth most points in the NHL. Backstrom is off to his fastest start to the season since the 2011-12 campaign when he recorded 18 points in the first 12 games. Backstrom currently sits one goal shy of 250th of his career to become the 39th active player to reach the mark.
  • Backstrom recorded three points (1g, 2a) on Feb. 7 against the Philadelphia Flyers, his 82nd career game with at least three points and his 156th multi-assist game. Since 2007-08, Backstrom’s first year in the NHL, he ranks second in multi-assist games (Sidney Crosby: 166) and fifth in three-point games.
  • In addition, Backstrom is five assists shy of 700 career assists, where he would become one of three active players to reach the 700 assist mark and the fifth Swedish-born player in NHL history, joining Nicklas Lidstrom (878), Henrik Sedin (830), Mats Sundin (785) and Daniel Alfredsson (713). Backstrom’s 0.72 assists per game are tied for the second-most among active NHL players with at least 500 assists (also tied for the 17th-highest rate in NHL history among players with 500 assists). Backstrom is the franchise’s all-time leader in assists.
  • Capitals forward Lars Eller is three points shy of his 300th career point (133g, 164a).
  • Eller set a career high with 39 points (16g, 23a) in the shortened 2019-20 season and led the Capitals with a career-high 55.8 shot attempt percentage, the third-highest percentage by a Capital since 2009-10.
  • Eller’s 297 points are the third-highest total of any Danish-born player in NHL history. Since joining the Capitals in the 2016-17 season, Eller’s 141 points (60g, 81a) are seventh on the team during that span.
  • In addition, Eller’s 54.6 face-off win percentage (72 wins, 60 losses) leads the Capitals among players with at least 20 face-offs taken this season. Eller has won 54.3 percent of his draws taken in the neutral zone (19 wins on 35 draws) and 57.4 percent in the defensive zone (35 wins on 61 draws).

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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