Nicklas Backstrom And Alex Ovechkin Reunited On Top Line, Nic Dowd Returns, Johan Larsson In, Connor McMichael The Extra: News From Capitals Sunday Morning Skate


The Washington Capitals held gameday morning skate at 10:30 this morning at MedStsr Capitals Iceplex. They return to action tonight when they host the Minnesota Wild at Capital One Arena. Puck drop is set for 7:00 PM.

Lines At Morning Skate

Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov flipped center positions, reuniting Backstrom with Alex Ovechkin on the top line. Nic Dowd returned, centering the fourth line. Trevor van Riemsdyk also returned.

Johan Larsson skated at left wing on the fourth line, in Carl Hagelin’s normal spot. Lars Eller returned to center the third line, making Connor McMichael and Michal Kempny the apparent extras for tonight.

Vitek Vanecek was the first goaltender off the ice, indicating he will likely get the start tonight against the Wild.

This lineup could very much resemble the Capitals lineup for game one of the playoffs.

From The Top

Head coach Peter Laviolette met with the media following the team’s morning skate. He spoke about the lineup changes and facing Kirill “The Thrill” Kaprizov.

Wild Thing

The Capitals host the Minnesota Wild tonight for the second and final meeting between the teams this season. This marks the first time the Wild have visited Capital One Arena since March 22, 2019, the longest span a visiting team has gone without playing at Capital One Arena (3 years, 11 days) since the COVID-19 suspended the 2019-20 season.

The Capitals have won nine of their last 11 games overall against the Wild (9-1-1). Alex Ovechkin has 17 goals in 18 career games against the Wild, the highest goals per game rate (0.94) he has against an opponent in his career. Ovechkin’s 17 goals against Minnesota are tied for seventh among active players, despite being tied for 185th in games played.

Evgeny Kuznetsov

Kuznetsov also met with the media following the team’s morning skate. He was asked several questions about facing Kirill Kaprizov.

Tom The Bomb

Tom Wilson enters tonight’s game on a five-game point streak (3g, 3a), after scoring his first 21 goal of the season on Monday versus Carolina. This marks the third time this season Wilson has recorded a five-game point streak (also Oct. 16-25, 2021: 7a; Nov. 21-30, 2021: 3g, 6a). Wilson is currently one goal shy of tying his career high for goals in a season (2018-19: 22g) after already setting a new career high for points in a season this year (47).

Wilson is averaging a career-best 0.73 points per game this season, a rate he has increased from the year prior in each of the last five seasons. On track for 56 points this season, Wilson can become the sixth forward from the 2012 NHL Draft class to reach the 50-point mark. Wilson is also on track to record the fewest penalty minutes in an 82-game season in his career (currently 85 PIMs). He is one of four players this season with at least 85 penalty minutes and 40 points (Winnipeg’s Pierre-Luc Dubois; Ottawa’s Brady Tkachuk; Nashville’s Tanner Jeannot).

Down On The Farm

Henrik Rybinski, signed by Capitals on March 1, is heating up with the Seattle Thunderbirds in the WHL. He recorded his 2nd goal in as many games last night. He has 2g, 3a in the five games played since returning from injury. (He missed most of March).

Rybinski also turned in an assist in last night’s game that somewhat resembled Evgeny Kuznetsov’s reverse direction pass.

For the season he has 20 g, 39a in 44 games (1.34 pts/gm). He’s shot the puck 137 times for a 14.6% shooting percentage.

Shots Fired

The Capitals differential between shots for and shots against average (sh/gm – sa/gm) for the season continues to level off at around +2. They are averaging 31.3 shots for per game and 29.3 shots against for the season. [Click to enlarge]

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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12 Responses to Nicklas Backstrom And Alex Ovechkin Reunited On Top Line, Nic Dowd Returns, Johan Larsson In, Connor McMichael The Extra: News From Capitals Sunday Morning Skate

  1. Anonymous says:

    Lineup makes me want to vomit. Mojo first line. McM sits. Good grief! Anyone in that organization have a clue?

    • Diane Doyle says:

      I wouldn’t necessarily vomit at this lineup. But agree McMichael shouldn’t sit at the present time.

      MoJo has been better in the past. But not ready to give up on him yet.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Flip Wilson and Mojo and then we’re cooking with gas.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The AARP lineup. Surprised #6 isn’t in for #42

  4. Anonymous says:

    Looks like a nice signing. Maybe in 15 years he will be old enough to get in the lineup.

  5. Anonymous says:

    So Ovy and Kuzy were working together, at least offensively, until 90 arrives (won’t say his name). So leave 90 there but break up the line? While Mantha and Backstrom seemed to be working. Messing with what was working to accommodate 90? Put Connor at C. Eller at Wing. 90 to bench.

  6. Franky619 says:

    Why hook Ovy to that sinking ship that is Backstrom? And with Mojo on top of that?? Wow, he’s not even playing in the nhl next year. Hopefully they lose in 4 come playoff time and Leonsis cleans the house this summer.

    • steven says:

      Guess Lav is assuring that the Caps finish 4 in the conference and get knocked out in the first round…..again!! MoJo belongs on either the 3rd or 4th line and the GM overpaid to get him as we have multiple players who can play on the 3rd and 4th lines and do better than MoJo. IMHO the trades this year were useless and lost the Caps valuable draft capital. Sad but Ted doesnt have the chutzpah to get rid of the GM and HC and both theirm staffs and get in younger people.

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