The Washington Capitals returned to work on Monday following an optional practice on Sunday and a full day off on Saturday. The team will depart for Pittsburgh this afternoon in advance of their tilt with the Penguins on Tuesday night.
T.J. Oshie was once again a non-participant in the team’s practice on Monday. He has been sidelined with an upper body injury and missed the last seven games. Lines from today’s practice:
Capitals lines at Monday practice:
*Protas, Leason rotating in 3rd/4th lines
*No Oshie (IR, upper body)
— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) January 31, 2022
Nick Jensen (upper body) practiced with the team again. His status for Tuesday’s game against the Penguins is unknown at this point.
The Capitals recalled defenseman Lucas Johansen from Hershey on Monday and assigned him the the team’s taxi squad. Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny entered COVID protocol on Friday and will likely miss the Capitals game against the Penguins on Tuesday night. Defenseman Nick Jensen has been out with an upper-body injury and missed the last four games.
Evgeny Kuznetsov was added to the Metropolitan Division All-Star roster to join Metropolitan Division captain Alex Ovechkin and represent the Washington Capitals at the 2022 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas. This will mark Kuznetsov’s second career All-Star Game after representing the Capitals in the 2016 All-Star Game in Nashville, where he scored a goal. The All-Stars will showcase their talents in the 2022 NHL All-Star Skills on Friday, Feb. 4 (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports) before facing off in the 2022 NHL All-Star Game on Saturday, Feb. 5 (3 p.m. ET, ABC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports).
This season, Kuznetsov leads the Capitals with 30 assists and is tied for second with 13 goals. Nine of Kuznetsov’s assists have come off game-winning goals, which leads the Capitals. He has recorded 15 points (5g, 10a) in his last 16 games.
Kuznetsov is averaging 21:25 of ice time this season, eclipsing his single-season career high set in 2017-18 by nearly three minutes (18:49). In addition, he is averaging a career-high 1:00 of penalty kill time per game, after averaging just four seconds of penalty kill time per game coming into this season. With Kuznetsov on the penalty kill, Washington has scored the same number of goals as they’ve allowed (5 goals for, 5 against). Kuznetsov is one of just two players with at least 40 penalty kill minutes that has an equal number of on-ice power play goals allowed versus shorthanded goals scored (Philadelphia’s Joel Farabee: 2 goals for, 2 against).
Czech It Out
Vitek Vanecek recorded his fourth career shutout against the Dallas Stars on Friday, stopping all 29 shots faced. Over his last six games, Vanecek has stopped 159 of 169 shots (.941 save percentage) and has recorded a 1.67 goals-against average, a stretch that includes two shutouts (also Jan. 15 against the New York Islanders).
In 23 games this season, Vanecek has a 1.76 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage at five-on-five. Among goaltenders with 60 or fewer games played since the start of the 2020-21 season, Vanecek’s 31 wins are tied for fourth in the NHL (Jack Campbell: 37; Frederik Andersen: 36; Cam Talbot: 36; Robin Lehner: 31).
Vanecek has a combined goals differential (xGA-GA) of +5.76 over the past 4 games. He’s given up a total of 6 goals in those 4 games and a combined sv% of .943%. He stopped 7 of 7 high-danger chances at 5v5 last night, improving his HDSV% (5v5) to .871 for the season, which is the third best in the league among goaltenders with 400 or minutes played.
Capitals Results, So Far
The Capitals have played 45 games of their 2021-22 schedule and have a record of 24-12-9. The following table summarizes their game results to date, and includes pre-game team winning percentages prior to each game.
Bummer about Oshie…I’m guessing it’s his shoulder? Maybe better to rest him up and have him healthy and ready for the big playoff positioning push?
Kuzy and some others should hit the 20+ goal benchmark for the season