Beck Malenstyn In, Joe Snively Out, Changes To Top-6 Forwards And Defensive Pairs: Notes From Capitals Morning Skate In New Jersey

The Capitals made their way to New Jersey Sunday afternoon following an optional skate at MedStar Capitals Iceplex Sunday morning. They next face the Devils tonight at Prudential Center. Puck drop is set for 7PM.


Capitals bench boss Peter Laviolette juggled the forward lines and defensive pairings late in the team’s last outing against the Kings, including flipping Dmitry Orlov and Martin Fehervary, and those changes carried through to this morning’s skate. (Via Samantha Pell/Washington Post)

Alex Ovechkin — Dylan Strome — Conor Sheary
Marcus Johansson — Evgeny Kuznetsov — T.J. Oshie
Aliaksei Protas — Lars Eller — Anthony Mantha
Beck Malenstyn — Nic Dowd — Garnet Hathaway

Dmitry Orlov — John Carlson
Martin Fehervary — Nick Jensen
Erik Gustafsson — Trevor van Riemsdyk

Darcy Kuemper
Charlie Lindgren

Extras: Joe Snively, Connor McMichael and Matt Irwin

Laviolette also returned Dylan Strome to center the top line, moving Evgeny Kuznetsov back to centering the second line.

Beck Malenstyn enters the lineup at left wing on the fourth line. He could also provide much needed help to the Capitals struggling penalty kill.

The Capitals visit the New Jersey Devils tonight at Prudential Center for the first of four meetings between the teams this season. Washington is 123-77-13-16 all-time vs. New Jersey and 25-3-3 in their last 31 games against the Devils dating back to the 2015-16 season.

In addition, the Capitals have won five-straight games at New Jersey and have a record of 12-2-1 in their last 15 games at Prudential Center. In 2021-22, Washington won the season series with New Jersey 2-0-1. Game notes here. Supplemental stats here.


Thursday night’s tilt against the Senators in Ottawa saw all Capitals skaters with an xGF% below 50%. I couldn’t recall the last time that happened. Saturday’s game against the Kings showed marked improvement for almost all of the Capitals skaters.

The fourth line is still performing below last season’s numbers, but Saturday was a vast improvement.


We’ve discussed expected goals differential quite a bit in recent weeks, but if you need a definition check our our NHL Analytics Glossary. Here are the values for each of the Capitals skaters after the first 5 games. [Click to enlarge]

If you’ve followed our post game analysis you already know that Aliaksei Protas has been performing very well in his first five games. Unfortunately he is just one of four skaters currently in the positive for the Capitals.

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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15 Responses to Beck Malenstyn In, Joe Snively Out, Changes To Top-6 Forwards And Defensive Pairs: Notes From Capitals Morning Skate In New Jersey

  1. Anonymous says:

    I like the d-pair changes. Worth taking an extended look.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Malenstyn is a PK specialist, will eat a ton of pucks. Hopefully he can help the struggling PK unit.

  3. DWGie26 says:

    You know I love seeing Beck in the lineup. To me he is a legit NHLer above AJF and maybe Leason. Different role than Snively. Really hope he comes focused and proves he should stay in the lineup. We need to find consistency on that 4th line.

    Also worth noting that they changed the centers late in Saturday’s game with the hope of getting OV going. It was actually the second line that got going more. So glad they are sticking with that combo for a full game (or at least to start).

  4. steven says:

    With so many new players on the team it takes time to get chemistry going. I dont think you can do that in 2 pre season games. Even if the guys that you bring in are vets they still need time to adjust to playing with others that they are not familiar with. Sometimes if feels that the HC makes changes for the sake of making changes. The same applies to CMM is he a center or a wing, is he on the 2nd or 3rd line. The young man is learning but cant learn if he is constantly moved around and up and down the lineup. Yes something has to be done about the leaky D and tonight you will see what was one of the solutions starting on D for NJ. Like seeing Beck on the 4th line a lot better than Snively and think this will be a good start fir him and a pleasant surprise on the PK. I always thought Orlov should be on the #1 pair on D and maybe move Carlson to the 2nd pair. Will be interesting to see how well the play together.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Certainly valid points, chemistry is difficult to establish if things are constantly changing. I think Lavi’s philosophy is try all ideas at the beginning of the season (first month), see what works, what doesn’t, and then proceed. But to your point, I’m not sure he’s getting the best take by rotating so quickly.

    • DWGie26 says:

      People bark about this both ways. Some get pissed that Lavi gets hardheaded and doesn’t change things. Then people bark about he changes things around two much. It is a delicate balance to be sure, but generally speaking:

      * When you are young in a PROFESSIONAL league (or otherwise) the new/young players have to earn their way. This is pro sports so you can’t coddle them. They have to create their own way and have to understand they may be moved all over the place. Part of being an upstart player.
      * When you are established you will generally need to stay in same spot unless you are trying to create a spark or find chemistry.

      I think we need to spark two things. Better sustained 5 on 5 play (chemistry) and better team dee. Hopefully we’ll find combos that work. Very encouraged with third line right now and it stays together.

      McMichael really should go to Hershey. We need him to develop and grow. Not sure why he is not progressing, but he is not. I don’t put that on Lavi. I put on player. But we need to do something different (hershey) and that i do put on Lavi/GMBM.

      • steven says:

        Agree totally that CMM should go to Hershey rather than sit in the skybox and not learn much. You can only learn so much by watching however you learn a lot more by consistent play with the same linemates and from playing the same position.

    • Anonymous says:

      Idk if you can use the whole Mcmichael is learning but can’t learn if he is constantly moved around take. Look at protas for example he has played up and down the line up in these first 6 games and has been noticed every single game. I think Mcmichael needs to play in Hershey. He is still young and hopefully he can develop and be an everyday NHL player but as of right now he is just not there.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I like the defensive pair changes. But if Orlov’s numbers start to drastically dip, we may need to re-asses.

    • steven says:

      Would like to see Orlov on 1st d and Carlson on 2nd D if Orlovs numbers slip.

      • DWGie26 says:

        This is already happening. On Saturday night, Fever-Jensen started the second and third period as first pairing. I’d like to see that continue. JC74 will still get his minutes as he plays almost all of the PP time.

  6. Brian Bernstein says:

    Wondering why HCPL slots Sheary on the top line over Martha. IMO, putting Martha on the 3rd line w/ Eller will likely mean fewer minutes and fewer chances (although I do like him playing on the same line as Protas).

    At some point this season, I suspect HCPL will have to bite the bullet and drop Carlson to the second rotation. Maybe in the second half when AA is ready to play.

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