Connor McMichael Returns To Lineup: Notes From Capitals Morning Skate In Tampa

The Washington Capitals winged their way to the Sunshine State on Saturday afternoon following an optional skate at MedStar Capitals Iceplex. They begin a three-game road trip tonight against the Lightning in Tampa before moving to the east coast to face the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. They will wrap-up the three-game excursion on Thursday against the Blues in St. Louis. Puck drop tonight is set for 7PM on ESPN.


Connor McMichael returns to the lineup in place of the suspended Nicolas Aube-Kubel. Dmitry Orlov skated this morning, but does not appear to be making his return to the lineup tonight. The lines and pairs at morning skate courtesy of Samantha Pell of the Washington Post.

Alex Ovechkin — Evgeny Kuznetsov — Conor Sheary
Sonny Milano — Dylan Strome — Marcus Johansson
Connor McMichael – Lars Eller – Anthony Mantha
Aliaksei Protas — Nic Dowd — Garnet Hathaway

Erik Gustafsson — John Carlson
Martin Fehervary — Nick Jensen
Matt Irwin — Trevor Van Riemsdyk

Darcy Kuemper
Charlie Lindgren

Darcy Kuemper was the first goaltender off the ice, indicating he will likely get the start tonight against the a Lightning.

PP1: Ovechkin, Carlson, Kuznetsov, Johansson, Strome
PP2: TvR, Gustafsson, Mantha, Sheary, Milano

Extras: Alexander Alexeyev, Joe Snively
Suspended: Nicolas Aube-Kubel (3 games)
Injuries: Dmitry Orlov, Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson, T.J. Oshie, Connor Brown, Beck Malenstyn

Peter Laviolette, who entered the league’s Covid-protocol on Friday, will miss a second-consecutive game tonight.


The Capitals complete a home-and-home set with Tampa Bay tonight when they visit the Lightning at Amalie Arena. The Capitals defeated the Lightning 5-1 at Capital One Arena on Friday. Washington is 5-3-2 in their last 10 games at Amalie Arena.

Andrei Vasilevskiy was the first goalie off the ice for the Lightning at their morning skate this morning, so expect him to get the start tonight. Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said Erik Cernak or Cal Foote will not play tonight. Cernak and Foote are considered day-to-day.

Fight Night, Part 2?

Friday night’s game between the Capitals and Lightning was a wild and wooly affair that featured a five-minute major match penalty, multiple fights, a line brawl, and multiple misconduct penalties.

79 penalty minutes in all were doled out. This included minutes for a fight between Capitals forward Garnet Hathaway and Pat Maroon, which earned them both a fighting major penalty and an additional misconduct penalty. As a result, the DoPS has fined them both for their altercation.


With his 600th career point, Carlson passed Michal Pivonka (599) for the fifth-most points in franchise history. Carlson is the Capitals’ franchise leader in assists (466) and points (600) among defensemen and ranks second in games played (897) and third in goals (134) all-time among Washington blueliners.

Carlson became the sixth active defensemen to reach the 600-point mark, joining Brent Burns (230g-557a-787p), Erik Karlsson (163g-518a-681p), Kris Letang (144g-514a-658p), Ryan Suter (100g-542a-642p) and Victor Hedman (135g-477a-612p). Among the six defensemen, Carlson’s 897 games needed to reach the milestone are the fourth fewest (Karlsson: 730 GP; Letang: 887 GP; Hedman: 896 GP).


Today’s stat revisits expected goals for and against goals against for each of the Capitals skaters at 5-on-5. The following graph is the differential (xGF – xGA) for each skater. [Click to enlarge].


As we’ve discussed before, goaltending can also be evaluated utilizing the expected goals metric.

The Capitals goaltenders currently have the third greatest positive differential, meaning they are stopping a lot more goals than expected.


Hendrix Lapierre scored his second career AHL goal in Saturday night in the Bears 2-1 win over the Bridgeport Islanders. [More here.]


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 Connor McMichael Returns To Lineup: Notes From Capitals Morning Skate In Tampa

  1. dwgie26 says:

    I’m happy to see McMichael in! Hope he breaks loose today.

    Also seems smart to give Orlov another game off. That group of dee played well on Friday so run it back.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      I wish there was a way to get Protas off the 4th line, but like you said, if it’s not broke…

      • novafyre says:

        I still have a better understanding of what Coop expects out of each line than I do Lavi. Perhaps it’s because Coop talks about it more, is asked about it more, or maybe it’s just me. But for whatever reason, I just don’t have that picture in my mind when it comes to the Caps.

      • dwgie26 says:

        That was the genesis of my comment of playing McMichael on 4th line to (a) give him a consistent position he can play for a bit, and (b) to put Protas on a line that has performed well with Eller and Mantha.

      • hockeydruid says:

        I agree. I think I would switch CMM and Protas, putting Protas on the 3rd line and then sad to say this but put Snively on the 4th line and sit CMM. For me getting CMM minutes is essential however it needs to be at the C spot not on the wing. Therefore send him to Hershey until he is needed at the C.

    • novafyre says:

      From Tampa Bay Times today: “Newly acquired forward Rudolfs Balcers won’t play in today’s home game against the Capitals, but the Lightning hope he will push the bottom six forwards for ice time. He’s been brought in to compete, and maybe remind some of the other forwards that their place in the lineup will have to be earned.”

      This speaks directly to discussions we have had about the Caps prospects. The main difference to me is that I see much more potential in the Caps prospects than I do those of the Bolts. We may talk about Caps trading draft picks and prospects, but the Bolts have really raided the larder. Their AHL affiliate Crunch are at the bottom of the North and perhaps bottom of the league.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Will this be a continuation of Friday night? I think it will be. Let’s get it on!! 👊👊👊

    • novafyre says:

      Because of injuries and huge rebuke of Lightning on their turnovers, penalties, and lack of marking by local press, I don’t think it’s going to be a repeat of Friday Night Fights. If the Bolts get way behind, the frustration might set in but I think it will start more disciplined.

    • dwgie26 says:

      The league is a pretty good at suppressing revenge behavior in follow-up games. Plus as Fyre said, both of these teams are looking for points. I expect fast and physical but not another 80 PIM night. If 3 goal spread or more, then maybe, but even then i doubt it. League is watching.

  3. novafyre says:

    From Raw Charge: Mikhail Sergachev had to leave Friday’s game after blocking an Ovechkin shot, but he was at morning skate today and will play tonight on the second pair. However, Cal Foote and Erik Cernak were not present and won’t play tonight. On the bright side, both are considered day-to-day.

    Brandon Hagel – Brayden Point – Nikita Kucherov
    Alex Killorn – Nick Paul – Steven Stamkos
    Ross Colton – Vladislav Namestnikov – Cole Koepke
    Pat Maroon – Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Corey Perry

    Victor Hedman – Ian Cole
    Mikhail Sergachev – Nick Perbix
    Haydn Fleury – Philippe Myers

    Andrei Vasilevskiy – confirmed starter
    Brian Elliott

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      At least they didn’t make any recall of thugs from the AHL, like the Pens used to do. Do you think things calm down tonight, or it’s part 2 of Friday night?

      • Novafyre says:

        I think it will be calmer. At least at the start. Frustrations could rise if the bolts don’t play better. But the press has been on them for lack of defense, penalties, basically undisciplined play. There’s going to be pressure on them to produce goals, not hits or fights.

  4. Jonathan says:

    Another opportunity for McM. He just needs to focus on the basics, and generate chances where and when he can. Jesus has already been taken.

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