Line Changes Continue: Notes From Capitals Friday Practice

The Washington Capitals had the day off on Thursday following their 5-3 defeat to the Flyers Wednesday night in Philadelphia. The two teams will do it again on Saturday at Capital One Arena, with puck drop set for 7PM. Here’s the latest news and notes for Friday:


Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette continued to tinker with the lines on Friday. The forward lines and defensive pairs at Friday’s practice, courtesy of Matt Weyrich/NBC Sports Washington.

Alex Ovechkin — Evgeny Kuznetsov — Connor Sheary/Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Sonny Milano — Nicklas Backstrom — Tom Wilson
T.J. Oshie — Nic Dowd — Anthony Mantha
Marcus Johansson/Dylan Strome — Lars Eller — Garnet Hathaway

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

Darcy Kuemper
Charlie Lindgren

Nicolas Aube-Kubel shared the right wing on the top line with Connor Sheary and Marcus Johansson and Dylan Strome shared the left wing on the fourth line. The practice lines also seem to indicate that Anthony Mantha could return to the lineup on Saturday against the Flyers.

Peter Laviolette on the lines today: “It’s just practice right now so, again, we’re just looking at different things and slotting guys in.”

It will be very interesting to see who Laviolette sits on Saturday should Mantha return. Lars Eller would seem like an obvious choice, not forcing Strome to a fourth-line winger position, at least for one game, although today’s practice lines seem to indicate that Eller will find a spot at center on the fourth line.


MedStar was packed on Friday as 800 kids from Arlington County Public Schools were in attendance as part of the celebration of Alex Ovechkin reaching 800 goals.

Ovechkin took a photo with each class and they all received free T-shirts. Not a bad school day if your are a kid.


Marcus Johansson scored his 11th goal of the season on Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers. Johansson, who scored nine total goals in 69 games with the Seattle Kraken and Capitals last season, currently ranks tied for second on the team in goals (Alex Ovechkin: 29; Conor Sheary: 11).

In addition, Johansson leads the Capitals in game-winning goals (5) and ranks tied for the fifth-most game-winning goals in the NHL. Johansson scored four game-winners in a nine-game span from Dec. 9 to Dec. 27, including two on the power play, one on a shorthanded penalty shot attempt and one in overtime. [More here]


Today’s stat is courtesy of JFresh Hockey which lists the team goals saved above expected for all situations. It is simply the expected goals against minus the actual goals against for each tandem of netminders in the league.

As Justin mentioned in his mid-season assessment of the Capitals goaltenders on Thursday (here), both of the Capitals netminders have done well in their respective roles, with Darcy Kuemper ranked eighth in the league in most of the key statistical categories.


Vinny Iorio scored his second career AHL goal on Wednesday night against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The goal helped the Bears mount a late third period comeback and ultimately send the game to overtime.

Jake Karabela also found the back of the net on Wednesday. He now has 11 goals and 10 assists in 39 games played so far this season.

The Hershey Bears host their first of two weekend games against the Springfield Thunderbirds. Tonight’s contest marks the official midpoint of the Bears’ 72-game regular season schedule.

By Jon Sorensen

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.
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28 Responses to Line Changes Continue: Notes From Capitals Friday Practice

  1. Anonymous says:

    They are working really hard to find a spot for Eller. Pushing Strome to the wing is ridiculous

  2. Jon Sorensen says:

  3. novafyre says:

    Stingrays tonight play a 40 minute game (Savannah) as they finish the game suspended when their Zamboni broke. Score is 0-0, Rays lead in sog 13-8.

    Remember tomorrow AHLtv is free so if you want to watch the prospects on ice, Bears play at 7pm.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Thanks for reminder, Fyre. I keep forgetting to mention AHL free previews. Check it out! They have an app for the big screen which is highly recommended.

      • novafyre says:

        Strange game. None of the goalies on the teams today were with the teams when the first period was played. In fact, a lot of roster changes on both teams. Rays owned the second with Bear scoring one of their 3 goals then GP owned the third scoring their 3. Bear could only ring the post in OT but another scored for the Rays win.

  4. lfgaming999 says:


    Not hard at all

  5. Anonymous says:

    Coach has lost his way and his mind.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Ovi-strome-sheary line has been one of the most effective lines in hockey why split them. I agree to bring mantha back in and maybe scratch eller for a game or 2 cause he has not been effective at all of late

  7. Anonymous says:


    Mantha bye bye for Boeser who slides into Mojos spot and Mojo slides to the 4th line in for NAK as your extra

    Lars is out, sad to see him go but its a #’s game and you trade him away.

    • hockeydruid says:

      Totally agree and what we see in the line changes comes from a HC who has nothing to do but “Tinker with the lines”. Putting Strom onthe 4th line is an insult. Time for the lame-duck HC to go and go fast before he finds some lines that he likes but cant play together and then the season is lost. He is getting paid nicely to not do much so why do the “Tinker” thing other than because he can. Sit Lars and Mantha and be done with it unless someone gets hurt and you need them or the GM should have at least 2 brain cells and trade one or both for whatever he can get probably mid-round draft picks. If needed there are players in Hershey who can be called up if needed. Let the lineup above carry this team the rest of the season!!

  8. Mark Eiben says:

    What the?…

  9. Diane Doyle says:

    In what world should Strome be a 4th line center? I thought he was more effective than Eller these days. Not only that, but guys sent to a way lower line than expected and alternating someone could presage a healthy scratch. And why is Johansson in the mix for a healthy scratch as he’s done well, as of late?

  10. Anonymous says:

    There’s nothing wrong with trying Strome at wing. The Caps arguably have three top 6 centers, plus Eller and Dowd, who is a good third line center forced to play down because of the Caps’ depth. Kuzy is such a good skater that faceoffs aside, he’s a better fit in the middle. Backstrom is recovering, but is still an excellent two-way center. Dowd is the only right handed center, and is excellent at the dot. And for all of our complaints about Eller, he is having a solid season in the middle. I’d rather see Strome on the wing playing 18 minutes than him at center in a defensive role, down in the lineup.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree, now is the time to try things. But haven’t they already tried Strome on the wing to underwhelming results?

      • Anonymous says:

        Considering that the team has now played two games with it’s expected top 12 forwards, I’d say no, they haven’t.

        If Steven Stamkos can move to wing I don’t see why Strome can’t.

        • hockeydruid says:

          Sad to say but not all players can play multiple positions! Stamkos can but could you see Ovie trying to play center? Some players are just better at the position that they have played for years; look at CMM much better as a C then a wing where he looked lost and could not handle the defensive assignments well. Cant force something and Strom is definitely much better as a C than on the wing, same with Eller as he is just not strong enough on the defensive side to handle the wings . Time for the lame-duck HC to either step aside and stop his “Tinkering” or for what a good GM would do fire him and replace him with someone who will be here next year. Guess that this is just another example of the owner not allowing something because he is penny wise but pound foolish, ie Trotz!

          • Anonymous says:

            The Caps have had tons of guys play multiple positions. Oshie was drafted as a center out of college and still takes lots of draws. MoJo has played most of his career as a center. Jay Beagle entered the league as a RW before moving to C. Ben Clymer went from D to W. Tomas Fleischmann, Boyd Gordon, oh and Mr. Alex Ovechkin himself have all played more than one forward position.

            Besides, it’s much easier to move from C to wing than the inverse.

            But you somehow have advance knowledge that Strome would definitely be shit on the wing. Odd.

  11. Anonymous says:

    That’s it! They are definitely serving cocktails at MedStar.

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