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:
Capitals lines at AM skate in AZ:
— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) April 22, 2022
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.
Karel Vejmelka will start in goal for the Coyotes against the Washington Capitals tonight at Gila River Arena.
Harri Säteri will face the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.
Center Jay Beagle (LBI) won’t play tonight. He is listed as day to day.
— Craig Morgan (@CraigSMorgan) April 22, 2022
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).
8️⃣ 1️⃣9️⃣ pic.twitter.com/zPx58JzcBF
— x – Washington Capitals (@Capitals) April 22, 2022
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.
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).