The Washington Capitals made their way to Columbus, Ohio following their optional skate at MedStar Capitals Iceplex on Wednesday afternoon. The team held a morning skate at 11:30 this morning at Nationwide Arena in Columbus in advance of their tilt with the Blue Jackets tonight. Here’s the latest:
LINES AT MORNING SKATE
Anthony Mantha was moved down to the fourth line and Aliaksei Protas moved over to center. Alexander Alexeyev replaces Matt Irwin on the third pairing. T.J. Oshie was elevated to the second line.
The Capitals forward lines and defensive pairs at Thursday’s morning skate courtesy of Samantha Pell/Washington Post:
Alex Ovechkin — Evgeny Kuznetsov — Conor Sheary
Sonny Milano — Dylan Strome — T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson — Lars Eller — Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Anthony Mantha — Aliaksei Protas — Garnet Hathaway
Erik Gustafsson — Trevor van Riemsdyk
Dmitry Orlov — Nick Jensen
Martin Fehervary — Alex Alexeyev
Extras: Joe Snively
Darcy Kuemper was the first goalie off the ice at morning skate. He is the expected to get the start tonight in Columbus.
Nic Dowd did not make the trip to Columbus and will not play tonight vs Blue Jackets. Dowd’s wife, Paige, gave birth yesterday to Ruby, the couple’s second child.
As reported yesterday, Tom Wilson and Nicklas Backstrom, who are close to returning, did not make the brief, one-game road trip to Ohio.
The Capitals have won six-straight road games, which is tied for the longest road winning streak in franchise history (Feb. 26 – April 1, 1984: 6-0-0; Feb. 20 – March 16, 2011: 6-0-0). The Capitals will have an opportunity to establish a new franchise record tonight in Columbus.
During the streak, which began on Dec. 5 at Edmonton, the Capitals have outscored opponents 26-10 (4.33 GF/GP, 1.67 GA/GP). In addition, Washington has converted on six of 16 power play opportunities (37.5%) and have killed off 18 of 21 opposing power play opportunities (85.7%). Washington has allowed 2.85 goals against per game on the road this season, the eighth-lowest rate in the NHL. More here.
STAT OF THE DAY – HIGH DANGER
The “high-danger” area is an important statistical designation in hockey. It simply represents the area immediately in front of the goal, as defined in the following graphic. [It should be noted that the delineation of the zone varies slightly between teams and analysts and others in the hockey stats world.]
There are a wide range of stats that are linked to the high-danger area, including, but not limited to high-danger shots and high-danger goals. One important stat is high-danger goals for percentage, which is the ratio of goals for and goals against scored from the high-danger area. Anything above 50% indicates a player or team is scoring more high-danger goals than the opposition.
The following graph represents the Capitals high-danger goals for percentage over the course of the 40 games played so far. [Click to enlarge].
The Capitals poor start and turnaround to the 2022-23 season is well documented at this point. The story is no different for the team’s HDGF%. They finally moved above the 50% mark during the third week of December, and continue to climb well above the line.
[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 and Team USA fell to team Canada 6-2 on Wednesday night, ending their 2023 World Junior Championship run. Chesley was the 7th defenseman, again last night, and this time saw no shifts/time on ice in the game. [Box Score].
By Jon Sorensen