Center Nicklas Backstrom (who missed the first 42 games of the season due to a hip injury that required surgery) and right-wing Tom Wilson (torn ACL) are making their season debuts for the Washington Capitals vs. the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday (5 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington in-market, ESPN+ out-of-market).
As a result there were plenty of line changes. That is something you would not expect for a team that has gone 15-4-3 (the second-best record in the NHL) since November 22.
Capitals in warmup:
Kuemper (vs. Merzlikins)
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) January 8, 2023
Backstrom stepped right onto the top-line while Evgeny Kuznetsov and Sonny Milano both moved down one line from Friday’s 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators. T.J. Oshie also dropped down one with Wilson returning. Marcus Johansson also got demoted.
Left-wing Anthony Mantha and right-wing Nicolas Aube-Kubel were scratched. Left-wing Joe Snively and center Aliaksei Protas were both assigned to the AHL’s Hershey Bears over the weekend to make room on the roster for Wilson and Backstrom.
Mantha has just six goals and 19 points in his last 35 games, though a goal and three points in his last four. Aube-Kubel had goals in back-to-back games before getting scratched.
By Harrison Brown