No Line Changes, Vitek Vanecek Gets The Start Tonight Against Coyotes: New From Capitals Morning Skate In Arizona


The Washington Capitals returned to work Friday morning for their typical gameday morning skate at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. The Capitals conclude their five-game road trip tonight against the Coyotes with puck drop set for 10:30 PM ET.

There were no line changes from the Capitals last game against the Vegas Knights, as Laviolette seems to be zeroing in on his postseason lineup:

Vitek Vanecek will make his first start since Montreal on April 16th. He is 19-11-0-5 with a 2.67 goals against average and a .909 save percentage on the season.

It appears Connor McMichael, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, Matt Irwin and Michal Kempny will once again be the healthy scratches.

From The Other Side

Former Capital Jay Beagle will not play tonight. Karel Vejmelka will start in goal for the Coyotes. He is 12-31-0-3 with a 3.67 goals against average and a .899 save percentage on the season.

The Capitals conclude their season-long five-game road trip (2-1-1) tonight against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena. The Capitals are 8-1-2 in their last 11 road games and have a 24-8-6 road record this season. Washington leads the NHL in road points (54) and road points percentage (.711).

Getting Healthy And The Results

We can trace a contributor to the Capitals’ recent surge in performance based on not just adjustments, higher levels of effort, or pure luck, but also the lineup returning to relative health. March 3rd was the first time all season when all six top-six forwards (Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson, Anthony Mantha, Nicklas Backstrom, and TJ Oshie) were in the lineup together.

Prior to March 3, the Capitals had wildly varying outputs without any semblance of lineup stability throughout the season, and the results were meager at best. Here’s the rolling five-game average of expected goals differential over the course of the season: [Click to enlarge].
More on the Capitals recent surge in performance can be read here.

Kuznetsov

Evgeny Kuznetsov recorded two points (1g, 1a) against the Vegas Golden Knights Wednesday, extending his point streak to three games (1g, 4a). Kuznetsov has recorded a point in 22 of his last 25 games (9g, 20a) and ranks second on the Capitals with 77 points (24g, 53a) in 74 games this season. He’s now seven points shy of passing his single-season career high of 83 points (27g, 56a) set in 2017-18.

Kuznetsov’s 53 assists this season are tied with John Carlson for the most on the Capitals, while his 33 primary assists lead the team. Washington is 29-8-2 when Kuznetsov records an assist this season and 36-12-5 when he records a point.

With 495 career points (153g, 342a) in 594 games played, Kuznetsov can become the sixth player in franchise history and one of 27 active players to reach the 500-point mark before playing their 600th career game. Kuznetsov, the 26th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, ranks tied for fourth among his draft class in points per game (Mark Stone: 0.88; Vladimir Tarasenko: 0.87; Taylor Hall: 0.86; Kuznetsov: 0.83; Tyler Seguin: 0.83).

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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4 Responses to No Line Changes, Vitek Vanecek Gets The Start Tonight Against Coyotes: New From Capitals Morning Skate In Arizona

  1. Marky says:

    I could be wrong but in seeing some of the ice time the last couple of games, it seems (I think because of 19’s hip troubles) that Lavi has built the forward lines to be essentially a 1st line (Ovi, Kuzy, Willy) and three 3rd lines almost. I know sometimes it’s not that way but one things for sure, coach is counting on Eller more and going forward I think.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This might be your game one postseason lineup right here. Just a few games to get them in sync.

  3. novafyre says:

    Mixed feelings about Beags. Would love to see him play but since he is sooooo good at faceoffs, we’re probably better off with him out.

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