Lines Combinations Remain The Same, No Tom Wilson: Notes From Capitals’ Saturday Practice At MedStar Capitals Iceplex

The Washington Capitals held one final practice on Saturday before departing for Toronto in advance of their tilt with the Maple Leafs on Sunday. (A reminder that puck drop on Sunday is set for 5PM ET). Here’s the latest from the Capitals’ universe on Saturday:


Tom Wilson (lower body) did not participate in Saturday’s practice. He was injured Tuesday in Colorado (More here). Wilson was Spotted watching a bit of practice from behind the bench. Stood there for a few minutes, walked away with a bit of a hitch in his step.

The forward lines and defensive pairs at Saturday’s practice remained the same, although technically the second and third lines flipped places from the Capitals last game against Pittsburgh:

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

Erik Gustafsson – Trevor van Riemsdyk
Dmitry Orlov – Nick Jensen
Matt Irwin – Martin Fehervary

Extras: Alexander Alexeyev, Aliaksei Protas

Head coach Peter Laviolette announced after the Washington Capitals’ practice on Saturday morning that right-wing Tom Wilson, who left the second period of the team’s 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, and center Nic Dowd, who left Washington’s 4-3 overtime win over the New York Islanders on January 16 with a lower-body injury, will both be unavailable for the final two games before the NHL All-Star Break and the team’s bye week. [MORE HERE]


The Capitals meet up with the Toronto Maple Leafs for second time north of the border and final game between the two teams this season on Sunday. Washington snapped Toronto’s four-game winning streak head-to-head (Washington: 0-3-1, which included a 3-2 loss in Ontario’s capital on October 13) with a 5-2 win at Capital One Arena on December 17.

The Capitals will not hold a gameday morning skate on Sunday due to the early start time of the game. Head coach Peter Laviolette will meet with the media at 2:45.

Action from Scotiabank Arena can be seen on NBC Sports Washington locally or NHL Network nationally starting at 5 PM ET.


Nicklas Backstrom’s assist on Thursday marked his 751st career assist, moving him past Larry Robinson (750) for the 45th-most assists in NHL history. Next ahead of Backstrom on the NHL’s all-time assist list is Doug Weight (755).

Among active players, Backstrom ranks third in assists (Sidney Crosby: 927; Patrick Kane: 773). With Backstrom in the lineup, the Capitals have a record of 628-322-116 (.644 point percentage). [MORE HERE]


With 17 points (3g, 14a) in 35 games this season, Orlov is currently averaging 0.49 points per game, which marks the highest point per game rate of his career. Orlov ranks third among Capitals’ blueliners in assists and fourth in points and is tied for second on the team in plus/minus (+9).

Washington’s 111 combined points (27g, 84a) by defensemen is tied for the seventh-highest total in the NHL. In addition, the Capitals have a record of 10-2-0 when Orlov records a point. Orlov is two assists shy of passing Sylvain Cote (195) for the eighth-most assists by a defenseman in franchise history and eight games shy of passing Kevin Hatcher (685) for the fourth-most games played by a defenseman in franchise history. [MORE HERE]


Today’s ‘stat o’ the day” looks at the Capitals high-danger goals for percentage (HDGF%) at 5-on-5. Justin touched on the Capitals play in the high-danger areas earlier this week (here), and I thought it would be good to take a focused look at the stat on it’s own. [Click to enlarge].

As we’ve noted with many of the Capitals key metrics so far this season, the high-danger goals for stat started off at the bottom of the barrel, but has rebounded nicely over the last three months of the season and are now 13th in the league.

Play in the high-danger areas (on both ends of the ice) is obviously a good indicator at how well teams are pushing forwards the goal (and defending against the same). The steady improvement by the Capitals, even after the injury to John Carlson (50.00% at the time), is very encouraging.

[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]


Ludwig Persson scored his fourth goal of the season for BIK Karlskoga on Friday.

The Capitals announced today that goaltender Clay Stevenson has been re-assigned from the Bears to the South Carolina Stingrays (ECHL). Stevenson was recalled to Hershey  earlier this week when Hunter Shepard became ill.

Benton Maass scored his third goal of the season for ECHL South Carolina on Friday night. The defenseman has 3g, 2a and is a +11 in 31 games played so far this season.

A reminder that the Hershey Bears annual Teddy Bear Toss game is tomorrow at 3PM. We will have full live coverage of the plush event, so stay tuned.

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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10 Responses to Lines Combinations Remain The Same, No Tom Wilson: Notes From Capitals’ Saturday Practice At MedStar Capitals Iceplex

  1. Anonymous says:

    Same lines? Two games in n a row? Is Lavi ok?

  2. dwgie26 says:

    Yeah, I was hoping Protas might get a game, but looks like he’ll roll with this group for next two games.

    On Snarls… Can’t let this guy walk. He is core to the team. Our best defenseman and not easily replaced. Aside from that, he is part of the team culture, Russian, tight with OV so I would suspect he also wants to be here and not move to another team while OV chases the record.

    Gus will be the interesting one. He has been incredible for us this year. Does he stay and force LuJo and Alexyev out of the top six or do we move on to bring up youth? I think we have to wait and see how the season (including playoffs) shake out before that decision is made.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Agree on Snarls. He’s arguably our best defenseman. The question is, what’s a serviceable new contract for both sides?

      • DWGie26 says:

        Lots of people disagree with me. I think he’ll do a shorter contract. 4 years. Guessing 6 to 6.4 x 4.

        • Jon Sorensen says:

          I would love to see 3 year term max, but you’re right, Orlov probably has the negotiating edge.

          • hockeydruid says:

            With Orlov being 31 he is probably looking for his last contract and a BIG pay day as he is just as valuable as Carlson. Im thinking he is looking for a 5-7 year deal at about $8- $8.5 mil a year. I also think that will be out of the Caps range unless they can unload Mantha and Oshie.

        • horn73 says:

          I think only way money will be that low perr season for Orlov is that the team would have to go 6 years…if not more. Same thing that happened with Oshi.

  3. James says:

    Mantha needs to prove his worth in this game. No kidding.

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