Dylan Strome Elevated To Top Line, Nicolas Aube-Kubel Returns, Darcy Kuemper Expected To Start: Notes From Saturday’s Morning Skate

The Washington Capitals returned to MedStar Capitals Iceplex for morning skate on Saturday following a day off for the team on Friday. They host the reigning champion Colorado Avalanche tonight at Capital One Arena.

Dylan Strome and Evgeny Kuznetsov flipped center positions and Nicolas Aube-Kubel returned to the third line for this morning’s rushes: The Capitals lines and pairs for Saturday’s morning skate:

Alex Ovechkin — Dylan Strome — Connor Sheary
Aliaksei Protas – Evgeny Kuznetsov  – Sonny Milano
Anthony Mantha – Lars Eller – Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Marcus Johansson — 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 and is expected to get the start tonight against his old team.

Extras: Alexander Alexeyev, Connor McMichael, Joe Snively, Dmitry Orlov
Injuries: Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson, T.J. Oshie, Carl Hagelin, Connor Brown, Beck Malenstyn.

Dmitry Orlov skated with the team, but was an extra and is not expected to return to the lineup tonight.

T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom skated in blue non-contact jerseys at AM skate. It was Backstrom’s first time practicing with the team.

“It was good,” said coach Peter Laviolette. “It’s part of the process. They do a lot of work behind closed doors, then they progress, and the next step is to jump on the ice with the rest of the guys. It’s very positive to see that. ”

The Team doesn’t anticipate him practicing tomorrow. Oshie is still out indefinitely. If all goes well today, he could continue to practice tomorrow.


The Capitals host the Colorado Avalanche tonight at Capital One Arena for the first of two meetings between the teams this season. The Capitals have won three straight and eight of their last 10 games overall against the Avalanche.

Washington swept the two-game regular-season set against Colorado in 2021-22, including a 3-2 victory in Denver on April 18. Action from Capital One Arena can be seen on NBC Sports Washington in-market or ESPN+ out-of-market starting at 7 PM ET.

Game preview here.


Today’s stat of the day presents the latest goals differential (xGA – GA) for each of the league’s number one starting netminders, courtesy of JFreshHockey.

Darcy Kuemper has the league’s 13th best goals differential, down slightly over the last two weeks, but still in the top half of the league.


Stanley Cup champion Brooks Orpik was spotted at David Gucciardi’s game last night. Gucciardi and Michigan State were in State College, PA last night to face the Penn State Nitney Lions.

The Capitals selected the Michigan State sophomore in the seventh round (213th overall) of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Gucciardi was in the middle of a team workout away from his phone when the selection was made and didn’t find out about the good news until an hour later.

“It was really cool,” Gucciardi told the Statesman. “It’s something I’ve been working for my whole life. To have that goal achieved means a lot to me, and I’m really grateful and just thinking about people that got me there like my parents, my brother, all my family really. They did so much, so it was really special for them too and an exciting moment for everyone.”


  • Goaltender Darcy Kuemper and forward Nicolas Aube-Kubel are expected to face their former team for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup with Colorado in June. They are expected to receive their rings tonight before the game.

By Jon Sorensen

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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28 Responses to Dylan Strome Elevated To Top Line, Nicolas Aube-Kubel Returns, Darcy Kuemper Expected To Start: Notes From Saturday’s Morning Skate

  1. Anonymous says:

    Good to see Batya!

  2. KimRB says:

    Peter Laviolette: “Let’s see, if I move Ovechkin to the 4th line, and Strome to 3rd, then put McMichael in as goalie, then Gretzky as top left defense, then Grandma Laviolette as 4th line enforcer…”

    Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic

    • Anonymous says:

      He still has one or two combinations he has yet to try.

    • hockeydruid says:

      As I have said before the HC moving people around all the time does nothing for the team but obviously makes him feel good. I am waiting for the day, and I hope it is soon, that I can watch a game and not see Lav on the bench but instead hear that he has been fired. Just as they practice almost every day for consistency so do the lines need to be the same for more than 1 game. Unless someone gets hurt or is suspended why not let this lineup stay for a bit and see how the players play.

      • Jon Sorensen says:

        I’m a “give it time to gel” type as well, Druid. Changing every game does nothing for building chemistry.

        • Anonymous says:

          To be fair that Strome line had some good chemistry earlier this season and they scored a goal last game. Kuzy and Protas have some history and I thought Sonny created some good chances with them last game as well. We really need some right handed shots back in the line up so NAK (who, hare-brained hit aside, played pretty well) slots back in on the third because both Dowd and Hatherway happen to be our only other right handed guys (except Ovi) and JoJo did well on the fourth last game too, I think he had the highest xgf of the team.

          I do agree that you need to give guys some more time to get going though. But I reckon those lines look as well balanced as you can hope for given our injury woes.

        • Anonymous says:

          Changing every game? Hasn’t it been more like changing every period or every shift recently? Or am I just venting frustration?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Jost is on wavers

  4. Jon Sorensen says:

  5. Jon Sorensen says:

  6. Jon Sorensen says:

  7. novafyre says:

    Interesting article from The Hockey Writers “Lightning Continue Late-Round Success at the NHL Draft” talking about how they develop late drafted prospects using high draft picks as trades. Talked about how they prefer college grads and how they develop them in Syracuse. But I also realized that Coop doesn’t just bring up a sub. He brings up a player for a specific position, a specific job. I think he and Syracuse must coordinate well so when a player is recalled, they agree that it is the right player for that job. I’m not getting that vibe from Lavi who seems to feel one size fits all.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Interesting. I always credited Stevie Y as being a mastermind at identifying talent, building Tampa (And now Detroit), but if things have continued after Yzerman’s departure, there may be something to what you are saying.

      • Novafyre says:

        I credit him with building it with hiring Cooper from Syracuse but I also credit his successor Brisebois and Cooper for continuing it. Coop is the longest tenured NHL coach right now.

        • Jon Sorensen says:

          Learn something new everyday. I saw what Stevie Y did in Tampa, and I’ve been very impressed at what he’s doing in Detroit right now, but it obviously wasn’t all him.

          • novafyre says:

            I’m not slinging any shade at Yzerman — he has more than earned his reputation but, as Wikipedia says “In 2010, BriseBois was hired by Yzerman to serve as ast GM whose duties included the managing of the Lightning’s AHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals.3 weeks later BriseBois hired Jon Cooper to be the Admirals head coach. BriseBois continued in his role as GM of the Bolt’s AHL team when they switched to the Syracuse Crunch. Under BriseBois’ guidance the team reached the Calder Cup finals two times. On September 11, 2018, BriseBois was named as GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Prior to his promotion BriseBois had assisted in all aspects of player personnel decisions, analytics, player development, contract preparation and negotiation, as well as salary arbitration for the Lightning and the Crunch. BriseBois also oversaw the interpretation of the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement and the salary cap for Tampa Bay. Additionally, a number of players developed into NHL regulars under his management of the Lightning’s AHL affiliates. Some of those players included J.T. Brown, Anthony Cirelli, Yanni Gourde, Radko Gudas, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Cedric Paquette, Andrej Sustr, and Andrei Vasilevskiy.”

  8. Jon Sorensen says:

    Stevenson will go tomorrow.

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