New Lines, Sonny Milano Elevated To Top Line, Anthony Mantha Continues To Practice As An Extra: Notes From Capitals’ Tuesday Practice

Most of the Washington Capitals had the day off on Monday following their 1-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday night. A few participated in the team’s optional skate while most sided with the extra day of rest. 

The team held a full practice on Tuesday morning at MedStar Capitals IcePlex before departing for Philadelphia in advance of their tilt with the Flyers on Wednesday. The two teams will return to the District for a rematch on Saturday. Here’s the latest from MedStar:


The forward Lines and defensive pairs at Tuesday’s full practice, courtesy of Tom Gulitti on

Alex Ovechkin — Evgeny Kuznetsov — Sonny Milano
Lars Eller — Nicklas Backstrom — T.J. Oshie
Conor Sheary — Dylan Strome — Tom Wilson
Marcus Johansson — Nic Dowd — Garnet Hathaway

Erik Gustafsson — Trevor Van Riemsdyk
Dmitry Orlov — Nick Jensen
Alex Alexeyev – Martin Fehervary

Darcy Kuemper
Charlie Lindgren

Extras: Anthony Mantha, Matt Irwin, Nicolas Aube-Kubel

In summary, Kuznetsov and Backstrom flip center positions on the top two lines. Sonny Milano is elevated from the third line to the top line. Tom Wilson and Conor Sheary  drop to the third line and Dylan Strome moves from left wing on the second line to center the third line. Additionally, Alex Alexeyev cycles in for Matt Irwin.

PP1: Gustafsson (point) Ovechkin (Ovechkin spot), Oshie (diamond), Backstrom (half wall), Kuznetsov (down low)
PP2: Orlov, TvR, Wilson, Johansson, Strome.

Injured: John Carlson (upper-body); Connor Brown (ACL); Carl Hagelin (hip)


Laviolette on Mantha: “He’s frustrated as he should be. He’ll get back in there; I thought he had a good practice today. These decisions are tough. Kubel didn’t do anything to come out, except score two goals in two games.”


Washington blueliners have combined for 96 points (25g, 71a) through 43 games this season, which is the fifth-highest total among all teams. Capitals defensemen have recorded a total of 55 points (18g, 37a) over the team’s last 21 games, compared to 42 points (7g, 35a) through the team’s first 22 games.

Erik Gustafsson leads Capitals defensemen with 25 points (7g, 18) and John Carlson continues to lead in goals with eight. Gustafsson has recorded 15 points (7g, 8a) in his last 11 games dating back to Dec. 17. Gustafsson’s 15 points during that span lead the Capitals and rank tied for seventh in the NHL. More here.


Today’s stat of the day simply plots the Capitals difference in expected goals for and expected goals against (xGF – xGA). [Click to enlarge].

The Capitals have done well to improve their positive differential since rising above the ‘zero line’ on December 7, although there has been a bit of a wobble in the last six or seven games. It’s something to keep an eye on.

[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]


There wasn’t much prospect action on Monday night so here is another look, from the seats, at Hendrix Lapierre’s ninth goal of the season on Saturday night.


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.
This entry was posted in News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to New Lines, Sonny Milano Elevated To Top Line, Anthony Mantha Continues To Practice As An Extra: Notes From Capitals’ Tuesday Practice

  1. Mark Eiben says:

    Wow! Milano 1st line ok. Eller 2nd line wing? I am very glad Strome is back at center where he has been excellent. Plus, maybe we should not be fooled by ‘lines’. I might think that 3rd line will play more than that 2nd line minutes wise.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Agree, I feel Strome needs to play center. And yes, you are right, TOI (and lines) could be vastly different as the game unfolds tomorrow night.

      • George Strait says:

        Why put Sonny with Ovie and Kuzy, when Conner had been playing well with them…this is Lavy still searching for the right combo with Nick and Tom and Oshie now all back

  2. Anonymous says:

    Good to see Strome back at center. Now the question surfaces regarding Eller, and if there are better alternatives at LW.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Lavi wants Milano on the top line (and for now, I agree). But he keeps moving away from it and then putting him right back at 1RW. Maybe he wanted to eye-ball Willy a 1RW for the last game, ok. But please give Sonny 5-10 games at the position before moving him again.

  4. dwgie26 says:

    There will be a lot of tinkering over the next couple of weeks. I like these lines as a next stop. And the second and third line are just that in name only. Third line with Sheary-Strome-Wilson will be fun to watch and I think will be our best line.

    On fourth line, I think our best options in order are: Sheary, Johansen, and Eller. I think it will be interesting to see if Eller embraces and excels on 4th line because that is the best assignment for him with this roster allowing Mojo and Sheary’s speed on more offensive lines. If Eller isn’t strong on 4th line, I can see him coming out of lineup for Mantha if we lose. I don’t know who else will see the scratch right now.

    But this i know… competition and fear of sitting is a good motivator and that will help drive the players to go hard. They all know what Lavi wants and expects.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Agree, Dwgie. We will see a bit more tinkering, as it should be. We are adding two forwards to the mix. I think the important part is to figure out what we have and don’t have by the end of January or so, so we can begin developing a strategy for the trade deadline. It could be “sit still” or it could mean a lot more.

      • dwgie26 says:

        yep… think that is about right on the timeline. Not just what we have but also how Wilson and Backstrom progress from major injuries as it takes a few games. The most interesting (and probably most important) development outside of those two is to see if Alexyev can grab the 3RD spot. Despite being a lefty he is very comfortable on right since he has played much of his career there. If he can successfully hold that down then we won’t be as desperate to go trade for a RD and it will set another prospect up for next season which is when we’ll get a bit younger. So I’m excited to see him keep getting games and I hope he is up for the task!

  5. horn73 says:

    This Lavi guy putting someone younger than Snively on the top line…this guy hates young players.

  6. hockeydruid says:

    The lines are great with the exception of the second line. Not sure Eller will be an asset on that line and dont think Mantha adds enough of the physical or scoring to warrant being there. That 3rd line is going to frustrate a lot of people especially if they score and probably draw a lot of penalties. Like that Gustafsson and Van Riemsdyk are the first pair and the young guys on the 3rd pair. All in all a very good and strong lineup just not sure about Eller. I think I would sit Eller and move MoJo to the 2nd line and let NAK fill the LW on the 4th line. I prefer Dowd on the $th line C spot as he is good at face-offs and is a great agitator and he scores more than Eller. From the Hockey School Tortorella a team must have scorers and agitators and then must ahve agitators who can score and scorers who can agitate; and this team has them all in Milano, Sherry, Dowd, Wilson and Hathaway.

  7. Jon Sorensen says:

  8. Anonymous says:

    Please for the love of God trade Kuzy and Eller. They both suck and have since our cup run. I don’t understand for the life of me why the Caps keep holding on to either of them

Leave a Reply