T.J. Oshie Skates With Extras, Nic Dowd Takes Line Rushes With Starters, Matt Irwin In For Michal Kempny: News From Capitals Morning Skate In Buffalo

The Washington Capitals held their gameday morning skate Friday morning at KeyBank Arena in Buffalo. They face the Sabres tonight with puck drop set for 7:00 PM.
T.J. Oshie made the trip to Buffalo with the team, but skated with the extras Friday morning. Nic Dowd took regular line rushes and looks to return tonight against the Sabres. Matt Irwin skated with the regulars and appears to be replacing Michal Kempny tonight.

Lines and pairs at morning skate:

Ilya Samsonov will get the start in goal tonight. The Capitals have back-to-back games tonight and tomorrow against the Devils at home. It’s like Vitek Vanecek gets the start tomorrow night.

Peter Laviolette post skate media session:

Washington has won five straight away games against Buffalo, the longest road win streak against the Sabres in franchise history. The Capitals are 18-4-2 in their last 24 games against Buffalo, dating back to Dec. 28, 2015, and have earned points in 11 of their last 12 games (9-1-2).

Vitek Vanecek is 7-1-1 against Buffalo in his career with one shutout, a 2.28 goals against average and a .925 save percentage.

Rebounds In Czech

Vitek Vanecek gave up a number of juicy rebounds against the Blues on Tuesday night, which is very uncharacteristic for him. He currently has the 13th lowest average rebound shot attempts against (1.121) in the NHL. The following graph ranks all NHL netminders in rebound shot attempts per game. [Click to enlarge].

What happens on the rebound attempts? Vitek has a better than average high-danger shot attempts against save percentage for the season (.855% at even strength), although Tuesday night he was just 4 for 8 (.500%), well below his season average. Just an off night.

Ilya Samsonov (1.382) is also better than the league average of 1.417 rebound shots against at even strength.

Tom The Bomb

With a goal and an assist against the St. Louis Blues, Tom Wilson recorded his 44th point of the season (19g, 25a), tying his career high set in the 2019-20 season. Wilson is averaging a career best 0.72 points per game this season, a rate he has increased from the year prior in each of the last five seasons.

On track for 55 points this season – where he would additionally set a career high in goals after already establishing a new career high in assists this season – Wilson can become the sixth forward from the 2012 NHL Draft class to reach the 50 point mark.

Wilson is additionally on track to record the least amount of penalty minutes in an 82-game season (78 PIMs). He is one of just four players this season with at least 70 penalty minutes and 40 points (Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog; Winnipeg’s Pierre-Luc Dubois; Ottawa’s Brady Tkachuk).

Power Play Resurgence 

The Capitals power play continues to surge. The following tracks the Capitals league ranking since the beginning of November. It includes return dates for Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie. [ Click to enlarge].

Tony Scoresalot

Since returning from injury on March 3 against the Carolina Hurricanes, Anthony Mantha has recorded six points (4g, 2a) in 10 games and has led the Caps to a 7-2-1 record, tied for the most points (15) in the NHL. With 12 points (6g, 6a) in 20 games this season, Mantha is averaging 0.60 points per game, tied for the third-highest rate in a season in his career.

Mantha is also averaging 16:27 of ice time per game since returning in March after averaging 13:52 in his first 10 games of the season prior to injury. Mantha has been on the ice for seven goals at five-on-five in March – one shy of the team lead among forwards on the team – and ranks third on the team in individual scoring chances created (21), only behind Alex Ovechkin (29) and Connor McMichael (22).

Evgeny Kuznetsov

With a goal against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday, Evgeny Kuznetsov extended his point streak to 10 games (7g, 6a), already the longest point streak by a Capital this season (previously Alex Ovechkin: eight games from Oct. 13-29, 9g, 6a). Kuznetsov’s 10 game point streak is a new personal career high (eight games accomplished twice previously: Jan. 25 to Feb. 13, 2018, 2g, 9a; Nov. 30 to Dec. 15, 2018, 10a). He is one of 17 forwards this season with a point streak of at least 10 games and his is the only one still active. Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi has the longest active point streak with 12 games (4g, 22a).

Kuznetsov ranks second on the team in goals (22), assists (41) and points (63). His 1.02 points per game rate this season (63 points in 62 games) is the second highest of his career, only behind his 1.05 rate during the 2017-18 season, when he set career highs in goals (27) and points (83).

Matt Irwin

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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6 Responses to T.J. Oshie Skates With Extras, Nic Dowd Takes Line Rushes With Starters, Matt Irwin In For Michal Kempny: News From Capitals Morning Skate In Buffalo

  1. Anonymous says:

    I would have gone with Vanecek tonight and Samsonov tomorrow against Devils.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Their logic, as least as I perceive it, is the Devils pose a greater offensive threat, although Buffalo has been surging in recent games, and could be the more dangerous of the two teams.

  2. Marky says:

    What I’m seeing is it might not matter the order here. Both teams they are playing are not that good, though younger and faster…I also expect Mojo to drop when Oshie gets back (maybe even as soon as tomorrow?). Also, please, no more Kempny this year.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      MoJo will drop as soon as he gets acclimated, and Lavi gets familiar with him. I wouldn’t be shocked if Irwin is in for an extended period of time. He has good numbers, but just a small sample size, Lavi needs to trust him for a few games.

  3. Anonymous says:

    It’s a bit misleading to say that Mantha averaged 13:52 prior to the injury, since that counts the game during which he was hurt. He averaged 15 minutes a night prior to being hurt. So his ice time is up a bit, but it’s not like he was playing 3rd line minutes before.

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