Notes From Capitals Optional Morning Skate In Vancouver

The Washington Capitals held an optional gameday morning skate at 11:30AM PT at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Tuesday. They begin their annual slate of games in the northwest tonight when they face the Canucks. Puck drop is set for 10PM ET.


There were no line rushes this morning due to the optional skate. The forward lines and defensive pairs at yesterday’s practice look to be set for tonight against the Canucks.

Alex Ovechkin — Dylan Strome — Conor Sheary
Sonny Milano— Evgeny Kuznetsov — T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson — 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

Extras: Joe Snively, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Alex Alexeyev.

Injuries: Tom Wilson (ACL), Nicklas Backstrom (hip), Carl Hagelin (hip), Connor Brown, Beck Malenstyn (finger), and Dmitry Orlov (lower-body)

The Capitals visit the Vancouver Canucks tonight at Rogers Arena for the second and final meeting between the teams this season.


The Capitals defeated the Canucks 6-4 on Oct. 17 at Capital One Arena, overcoming a two-goal third-period deficit with four unanswered goals in the final frame. Alex Ovechkin recorded four points (2g, 2a) in the comeback win and Evgeny Kuznetsov registered three third-period assists, including his 500th career point. More here.

Over their past nine games (3-5-1), the Capitals have a +8 goal-differential in wins but a -17 goal-differential in losses.


Today’s stat of the day is courtesy of JFreshHockey. It lists the goals saved above expected (xGA – GA)  for all 32 teams.
The Capitals goaltending tandem remains in the top-10 at +6.9 goals saved above expected. Anything over 0 is good.


Alexander Suzdalev attempted The Michigan again this past weekend. I’ve had the pleasure of watching all but a couple of his games so far this season, and by my count, this was his 4th attempt. He came very close on this one, and for him, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.

Hunter Shepard has stopped 56 of 58 shots faced (.966%) in his last two starts and was named player of the game in both starts. He now leads the AHL in GAA (1.69) and is tied for first in sv% (.940%).

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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7 Responses to Notes From Capitals Optional Morning Skate In Vancouver

  1. Jonathan says:

    Wow. Hunter is a beast. His NCAA numbers were no fluke.

    • Jonathan says:

      Any idea why he’s so good? What is it that is exceptional. He wasn’t drafted…

      • Jonathan says:

        i noticed he’s 27. If he was 24…. His window isn’t that big. I hope he gets a shot with the Caps. It’s an asset to have an older goaltender who can step in in an emergency (which it may be if one of our ‘tenders goes down. The age would make him more level headed in that situation you would think.

        • GRin430 says:

          He’s just a late bloomer, with modest size for a goalie (6’0 or maybe 6’1 depending on which site you look at).

          Looked up his history. Early November 1995 birthdate, so he missed the draft cutoff and would have been older than most kids in that draft, not that it would have mattered since he didn’t have the pedigree at that time that would have gotten him drafted.

          First records are from the NAHL when he was already 18-19 years old — i.e., his initial draft year — so he likely went from MN high school to the NAHL then to Minnesota Duluth. His 1st year in the NAHL was not great — .878 save %. The next year it jumped to .926, which is probably how he got the offer from Duluth.

          By the time he got to college he was almost 21, which is over the draft age limit. Only 2 games that first year, then was the #1 his last 3 years there. Graduated in ’20, meaning he was 24 going on 25 at that point, but had established himself enough to get a pro contract.

          Bottom line: 27 is prime age for hockey player, including goalies. If he turns out to be an NHL #1 within the next couple of years he would still be good enough for long enough that he’ll have been worth whatever investment/risk the Caps have made in him.

      • Jon Sorensen says:

        More on Shepard

        We jinxed him though, has yielded two goals in first period so far. He really had no chance on both.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Whats SUz’s ceiling? Do most think he can make the jump?

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Just 18 but he is oozing raw talent, a very creative player on the ice. He was originally listed as a first-rounder by central scouting but fell in the weeks leading up to draft. Haven’t been able to ascertain why. He looks like he could be a good one.

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