On Monday, Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette spoke to the media following today’s practice. He provided updates on players and mentioned there is a different mentality coming out of the All-Star break with the push for the playoffs on the horizon.
Goaltender Vitek Vanecek (upper-body) did not practice today; however, he did work out off the ice. His status for Tuesday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Capital One Arena (7 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington) is noncommittal.
Ilya Samsonov also did not practice. Laviolette mentioned that the Capitals netminder situation is “up in the air” for tomorrow. “We’re going through things in here and from some of the guys that weren’t on the ice I have to go back and find out where everything sits now with these guys with more testing going on.”
On right-wing T.J. Oshie (upper-body), Laviolette said he is doing well and did some off-ice workouts today, but has not skated. Left-wing Anthony Mantha (shoulder) is hoping to resume skating as he is progressing lately, according to Laviolette. Defenseman Michal Kempny (COVID-19 protocol) is expected to return to the lineup.
“I think it depends on how he feels,” he said on captain Alex Ovechkin, who entered the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol on February 2. “Last time he was out for ten days and you weren’t going to keep him out of the lineup. I would imagine only being out of the lineup for six days he’ll want to jump back in.”
Following Tuesday’s against Columbus, the Capitals head up north to face the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Center on Thursday (7 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington). Ovechkin will be unable to play due to Canada’s COVID restrictions.
Laviolette said “one of the positives” about Ovechkin’s absence is that “he caught it through the All-Star break” versus a stretch of four or five games. “While it was disappointing for him—I know he really wanted to go and have some fun—you can look at the flip side of it and say, ‘Okay, he didn’t miss many of our games’…he did catch a break, he got some rest, and [got] a chance to reset a little bit.”
The Capitals head coach knows there is a different mentality after the All-Star break as teams make their push for a spot in the playoffs. He said, “Every team starts the season with the same objective. They have their eyes on one prize and by this time, some will be a reality and some won’t be a reality…now you start looking where you are, how you’re playing, your health, how many games are left in the season, and where you sit in the standings.”
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 7, 2022
By Della Young