The Washington Capitals returned to work for practice Friday afternoon following their 4-3 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night. The Capitals next host the Montreal Canadiens Saturday afternoon at Capital One Arena. Puck drop is set for 4PM ET.
Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dylan Strome flipped lines in this afternoon’s practice. The forward lines and defensive pairs at Friday’s practice, courtesy of Tom Gulitti, NHL.com’s regional reporter:
Alex Ovechkin — Evgeny Kuznetsov — Conor Sheary
Sonny Milano — Dylan Strome — Anthony Mantha
Marcus Johansson — Lars Eller — Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Aliaksei Protas — Nic Dowd — Garnet Hathaway
Erik Gustafsson — Trevor van Riemsdyk
Dmitry Orlov — Nick Jensen
Martin Fehervary — Matt Irwin
Extras: Tom Wilson, T.J. Oshie, Joe Snively, Lucas Johansen, Alex Alexeyev
There was an “extras line” of Joe Snively, T.J. Oshie and Tom Wilson, so it doesn’t appear those guys will be playing tomorrow (never know for sure). Martin Fehervary (upper body) looks in line to return, though.
PP1: Gustafsson, Ovechkin, Strome, Kuznetsov, Johansson
PP2: Orlov, TvR, Sheary, Mantha, Milano.
Carl Hagelin (hip/eye) skated in a non-contact jersey before the Capitals’ practice again today.
Hi Hags! @CarlHagelin
— Charlie McManus (@CharlieMcManus9) December 30, 2022
Nicklas Backstrom (Covid protocol) did not participate in today’s practice. Assistant coach Scott Allen (Covid protocol) also did not participate in today’s practice.
THE GUS BUS
Erik Gustafsson recorded an assist on Thursday against the Ottawa Senators, extending his point streak to six games (5g, 5a). Gustafsson’s current point streak is the second-longest of his career and is two games shy of his career long eight-game point streak, accomplished with the Chicago Blackhawks from Dec. 27, 2018 to Jan. 12, 2019 (0g, 11a). Gustafsson’s streak began on Dec. 17 versus Toronto when he recorded his first career hat trick in the Capitals’ 5-2 win. Only San Jose’s Erik Karlsson (1g-11a–12p) has more points among NHL defensemen since Dec. 17.
HOLY FRIDAY PRACTICE! 😱😱
— Capitals Stores (@ShopMedStarCaps) December 30, 2022
Gustafsson has recorded 20 points (5g, 15a) in 37 games this season, which ranks tied for sixth on Washington and second among Capitals blueliners (John Carlson: 8g-13a–21p in 30 GP). Gustafsson recorded his third multi-point performance in five games on Tuesday against the New York Rangers, giving him 19 points on the season and surpassing his point total from 2021-22 (3g-15a–18p in 59 GP) in 23 fewer games.
This season, Gustafsson has recorded a 54.0 shot attempt percentage at five-on-five (662 shot attempts for, 563 shot attempts against), which is the second-highest rate on the team (min. 15 GP). In addition, Gustafsson’s +13 plus/minus rating in December leads the NHL. [More from Caps Today]
STAT OF THE DAY – GREATER EXPECTATIONS?
Today’s stat of the day plots the Capitals expected goals for percentages for each game so far this season, and group’s the stat by each team they’ve faced. [Click to enlarge].
The plot gives a better feel for how the Capitals are doing against the different caliber teams. It’s interesting that the Ottawa game stats (three games) are lopsided for both teams in each game, with the Senators dominating two of the three games.
[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]
Bonus Stat Of a the Day – It’s always interesting to take a look at the basic time on ice stats for a game like last night and see how Capitals bench boss Peter Laviolette managed the game. It’s interesting he felt the need for more Alex Ovechkin time and less Sonny Milano time was needed in a fast-paced game like last night.
Additionally, Lars Eller had the second-most hits last night, which is somewhat of a surprise.
DOWN ON THE FARM
Ryan Chesley and Team USA turned in their best performance so far in he World Juniors tournament on Thursday, beating Switzerland, 5-1. Chesley had a rough start to the tournament but turned in his best game yesterday.
Best game of the first 3 so far for Ryan Chesley. He was dropped to 7D and removed from thePK, but recorded 8:18 of TOI, most minutes for him so far in tournament, as his increased by period. Hopefully earning his way back to 2nd pair. He also recorded his first point. #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/zp2i3WEpV8
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) December 29, 2022
Chesley also recorded his first point of the tournament with a primary assist by bouncing a pass off of Switzerland’s goaltender’s pads.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) December 29, 2022
Team USA will wrap-up the preliminary round against Finland on Saturday. Puck drop is set for 4PM ET.
Props to the young man who returned Alexeyev Alexeyev’s glove during the game last night. Apparently Alex really needed it. 😁
Thanks for doing that I really needed that glove 😅 https://t.co/YxJiRbxkZO
— Alex_Alexeyev (@Alexeyev04) December 30, 2022
Sergei Ovechkin, better known as “Ovi Jr.”, also got in a little work on Friday, working on his rushes against Aliaksei Protas. He would receive a huge ovation from the MedStar crowd.
— BarryWhite Hanson (@BarryWhiteHansn) December 30, 2022
And finally, nice to see the Wilson family in D.C. for the holiday’s.