The Washington Capitals returned to work Tuesday morning for their second of three practices at MedStar Capitals Iceplex this week. The team will practice again on Wednesday before departing for New York City in advance of their tilt with the Rangers on Thursday night.
Nicklas Backstrom did not participate in the team’s practice. The team said it was due to “personal reasons”.
Nicklas Backstrom will not be at Capitals practice today, per team. Personal reasons.
— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) February 22, 2022
T.J. Oshie took line rushes on the third line with Lars Eller and Connor McMichael. Daniel Sprong took Backstrom’s place. Anthony Mantha (light-blue non-contact jersey) and Brett Leason skated as the extras.
Capitals at practice today:
*Backstom not practicing for personal reasons.
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) February 22, 2022
Capitals Coach Peter Laviolette said he expects Nicklas Backstrom (personal) to go on the team’s road trip to New York and Philadelphia this week. He was still unclear if Oshie, Vanecek, Schultz (all upper-body injuries) will travel, but there is a possibility.
Capitals rookie defenseman Martin Fehervary has recorded nine points (3g, 6a) in 49 games and is on track to play in 79 games this season, which would be the most by a rookie defenseman since John Carlson’s 82-game mark during the 2010-11 season. Fehervary would also join Gord Lane (80 games in 1976-77) and Kevin Hatcher (79 games in 1985-86) as the only defensemen in franchise history to reach that mark as a rookie. This season, Fehervary ranks first among rookie defensemen with 139 hits and is on pace to finish the season with 224 hits, which would rank fourth most among rookie defensemen since 2005-06.
In addition, Fehervary ranks third among rookie defensemen this season with 76 blocked shots and currently ranks fifth on the team in average ice time (19:30). At five-on-five, Fehervary’s 57.35 on-ice goals for percentage (39 goals for, 29 against) ranks second among rookie defensemen with at least 30 games played, only behind Nashville’s Alexandre Carrier (32 for, 19 against, 62.75%).
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 22, 2022
With a little more than 63% of the regular season now in the books, and the Capitals enjoying a week-off for the remainder of the previously scheduled Olympic break, it’s a good time to take our fourth in-depth look at the Capitals’ goaltenders and their performance through the first 52 games. [Click to enlarge]
You can read our complete comprehensive evaluation after 52 games here.
Fourth Line Fury
Since the start of February and in the span of seven games, the line of Garnet Hathaway, Nic Dowd and Carl Hagelin has played together for 73:39 of five-on-five, outscoring opponents 7-2. Hagelin is tied for the team lead with seven points (1g, 6a) in February, while Hathaway and Dowd are each tied for third (Hathaway: 3g, 2a; Dowd: 2g, 3a).
The trio has been on the ice for each of the last three game-winning goals for the Capitals, with Hathaway and Hagelin each recording a deciding goal (Hathaway: Feb. 17; Hagelin: Feb. 10 at Montreal). Despite the line starting 68.3% of their face-offs starts outside of the offensive zone in February, they have outshot opponents 39-35 and have produced 33 scoring chances while allowing 23.
New York Rangers
The Capitals return to action on Thursday when they visit the Rangers in New York. The Rangers are currently four points ahead of the Capitals in third place in the Metropolitan Division.
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) February 20, 2022
Happy 25th birthday to Ilya Samsonov.