Vitek Vanecek Will Start Tonight, Lars Eller Is Out, Trevor van Riemsdyk Is In: News From Capitals Morning Skate In Buffalo

After a day-off on Sunday, the Capitals were back to work on Monday for morning skate at KeyBank Center in Buffalo. The Capitals face the Sabres tonight before returning home to host the New York Islanders Tuesday night at Capital One Arena. Puck drop for tonight is set for just after 7:00 PM. Here’s the latest news and notes form morning skate:

The Capitals face the Sabres tonight for the sixth time this season (4-0-1). The Capitals have earned points in four of their last five away games against the Sabres (3-1-1). The Sabres haven’t won in 10 games (0-8-2). Game Preview here.


Lars Eller (lower body) did not participate in Caps’ morning skate. Eller left in the first period of Saturday’s game against the Flyers with a right leg injury.

Eller’s status remains “day-to-day”. Daniel Carr, taxi squad, was on the ice for morning skate.

The Capitals will go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen again tonight. Trevor van Riemsdyk will be the 7th defenseman.

The Capitals roster is full at 23 players (counting Eller and Wilson) and they are tight against the salary cap. They have no one on their roster they can send down without clearing waivers first (other than Samsonov). So they’re going with 11-7.

Vitek Vanecek will get the start in goal tonight against the Sabres. This suggests that Ilya Samsonov will get the start against the first-place Islanders tomorrow night.


Nicklas Backstrom

Coach Laviolette 


The Sabres have fared fairly well against the Caps this season with regards to a few of the key advanced metrics. The have outperformed the Caps in CF% in all games, outperformed the Caps in SCF% in all five games and outperformed the Caps in xGF% in three of the five games.

The following graph plots the save percentage and goals against average for each of the East goaltenders with a minimum of 200 minutes of ice time.


  • Nicklas Backstrom (4g, 3a) leads the Capitals in goals and points against the Sabres, while T.J. Oshie (2g, 4a) has recorded six points.
  • Backstrom is expected to play in his 984th career game tonight against Buffalo, passing Calle Johansson (983 games) for the second-most games played in franchise history.
  • This season, Backstrom leads the Capitals with 30 points (10g, 20a), which ranks 12th in the NHL. Backstrom has 158 career multi-assist games, which is the second most in the NHL since he entered the League (Sidney Crosby: 168). Backstrom became the first player in franchise history to reach the 700-assist mark on March 5 against the Boston Bruins.
  • Excluding the Vegas Golden Knights, the Capitals will become one of three franchises to have each of their top-two leaders in games played on their active roster (Washington: Alex Ovechkin and Backstrom; Pittsburgh Penguins: Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin; Winnipeg Jets: Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler). Backstrom is the franchise’s all-time leader in assists (704a) and ranks second in points (957p).

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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4 Responses to Vitek Vanecek Will Start Tonight, Lars Eller Is Out, Trevor van Riemsdyk Is In: News From Capitals Morning Skate In Buffalo

  1. Jon Sorensen says:
  2. Anonymous says:

    Let TvR play tonight, Lavi. He needs to knock the rust off.

  3. Pingback: Tuesday Caps Clips: Buffalo Beatdown; Caps vs. Isles Game Day

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