The Washington Capitals had the day off on Tuesday following their 4-3 overtime victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night. The team held a final practice Wednesday morning before they depart for Canada in advance of their tilt with the Senators in Ottawa on Thursday night. Here’s the latest news and notes from today:
Tom Wilson (ACL) shed his non-contact jersey and practiced in a regular jersey for today’s Capitals practice. Nick Backstrom (hip) also continues to practice in a regular jersey. Nic Dowd did not practice today. He has a non-COVID illness, but is expected to travel to Ottawa. The lines at Wednesday’s practice at MedStar Capitals Iceplex:
These are Capitals lines today.
These won’t be the lines tomorrow in Ottawa:
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) December 21, 2022
Darcy Kuemper (upper) said he’s ready to play and Laviolette said Capitals will probably split the upcoming two games vs. Ottawa and Winnipeg between the two goalies.
Alexander Alexeyev (upper body) also practiced in a regular jersey. Martin Fehervary (upper body) remained in a non-contact jersey. T.J. Oshie did not practice today. Oshie (upper body) will not play in Ottawa on Thursday or at home against Winnipeg on Friday, per Laviolette. The team will see how things are after the holiday break.
Tom Wilson (standing, back row) is wearing a ‘normal’ jersey for the first time at a team practice as he continues to progress from ACL injury pic.twitter.com/R5d0lfUcVG
— Ben Raby (@BenRaby31) December 21, 2022
Tom Wilson. Nicklas Backstrom. Beck Malenstyn and Martin Fehervary won’t go with Capitals to Ottawa and will skate back here.
Alexander Alexeyev (upper) will travel with the team to Ottawa and is expected to be activated from IR (he’ll likely be extra D in Ottawa)
The Capitals currently do not have a morning skate scheduled for tomorrow in Ottawa. Coach Laviolette is expected to meet with the media at 4:45PM ET.
THE ALABAMA HAMMER
Dowd has recorded 13 points (7g, 6a) in 33 games this season. Dowd, who set a career high in points (24) last season, is on pace to record a career-high 17 goals and 31 points this season. Dowd ranks first among Capitals forwards in shorthanded time on ice per game (2:12) and fourth on the team in hits (74).
In addition, Dowd’s 15 drawn penalties are tied for the most on the Capitals and are tied for the 12th most in the NHL. Dowd played in his 400th career game on Dec. 9 versus Seattle and ranks tied for eighth in games played (404) and 13th in points (115) among active forwards that were drafted in the seventh round of the NHL Draft. [More here.]
STAT OF THE DAY – DEFINING LINES
Today’s stat of the day presents the expected goals for percentages (xGF%) for each and every line combination that has been deployed in a game so far this season at even strength. The bottom portion of the graphic provides the total ice time that each combination has been deployed. [Click to enlarge].
To little surprise, the Ovechkin-Strome-Sheary line has been deployed the most so at even strength so far this season, and currently have an xGF% 54.1%. The Protas-Dowd-Hathaway line has been deployed the second-most with an xGF% of 57.9%.
A couple of lines that have seen decent minutes but haven’t really worked include the Ovechkin-Kuznetsov-Sheary line (48.6%) and the Protas-Eller-Mantha line (43.4%).
BONUS STAT – MINDING THE NETS
The following chart simply plots the save percentages and goals differentials for all NHL goaltenders with 500+ minutes of ice time. The heavier grey lines represent the league averages for both stars. [Click to enlarge].
Darcy Kuemper remains in the upper right quadrant, indicating he is above league averages in both categories. Backup Charlie Lindgren, who has been surging as of late, is just below both league averages, but very close to moving into upper right quadrant.
[The statistics used in this post are courtesy of Natural Stat Trick and the NoVa Caps Advanced Analytics Model (NCAAM). If you’d like to learn more about the statistical terms used in this post, please check out our NHL Analytics Glossary]
DOWN ON THE FARM
Ryan Chesley scored in Team USA’s first tune-up game on Monday night. They have another tuneup game tonight.
— Steven Ellis (@SEllisHockey) December 20, 2022
Haakon Hanelt is one of 26 roster finalists for Team Germany that have made the trip to Canada, however, that number will need to be reduced before the start of the tournament, so not concrete at this point.
Ivan Miroshnichenko played in his 5th KHL game today. He skated for 5:56 and recorded one shot.
By Jon Sorensen