Most of the Washington Capitals who left town for All-Star Break and Bye-week vacations last week began trickling back into town earlier this week and on Wednesday. The Capitals will re-ignite the engines for the remainder of the 2022-23 season beginning on Saturday in Boston.
The team held their first practice since the break on Thursday afternoon at MedStar Capitals Iceplex. They will practice again Friday morning at 11AM before departing for Boston Friday afternoon in advance of their tilt with the Bruins on Saturday afternoon.
Tom Wilson, who left the second period of the team’s 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on January 24, skated before the team’s practice, but left the ice with a noticeable limp and did not participate in practice.
Does not appear that Wilson will be joining practice today. Walked with a noticeable limp as he headed to the room. #Caps https://t.co/FiNoK5OmBN
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) February 9, 2023
Wilson is still “day to day” per Peter Laviolette. He called his pre-practice skate a “first step” towards returning.
Nic Dowd also missed practice on Thursday. Dowd left Washington’s 4-3 overtime win over the New York Islanders on January 16 with a lower-body injury.
The Capitals forward lines and defensive pairs at Capitals practice on Thursday, courtesy of Ben Raby/Capitals radio:
Alex Ovechkin — Dylan Strome — Aube-Kubel
Conor Sheary — Evgeny Kuznetsov — T.J. Oshie
Sonny Milano — Nicklas Backstrom — Marcus Johansson
Anthony Mantha — Lars Eller — Garnet Hathaway
Erik Gustafsson — Trevor Van Riemsdyk
Dmitry Orlov — Nick Jensen
Matt Irwin — Martin Fehervary
Extras: Alexander Alexeyev
ON NEW DEALS
Dylan Strome on his $25M extension: “I’m thankful a team saw something in me and believes, like myself, that I’m only going to get better over the next 5 years. They put faith in me, and I’m going to continue to grow and become a better player,” said Strome. “Over the course of my career, I’ve bounced around a little…when someone offers you that, that’s obviously something great to hear. So when (the #Caps) reached out, I was very excited. I’m just thankful a team believed in me.”
Sonny Milano on his 3-year, $5.7M extension: “I think I fit pretty well here. They gave me a chance when a lot of other teams didn’t so (I am) definitely grateful for that and I just think it’s clicking.”
The Capitals face the NHL-leading Boston Bruins on Saturday at TD Garden at 3:30 p.m. on ABC before returning to Capital One Arena to host the San Jose Sharks on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.
Spring Break over. Back to class for @ovi8 and @backstrom19 pic.twitter.com/17V2hmcaCI
— Al Koken (@RealSmokinAl) February 9, 2023
With 29 regular-season games remaining, the Capitals have a record of 27-20-6 (60 points, .566 points percentage) and sit in the Eastern Conference’s first Wild Card spot, despite compiling the second-most man games lost to injury (309) in the NHL. [MORE HERE]
STAT OF THE DAY – SHOTS PER GAME
Today’s stat of the day summarizes the Capitals average shot differential (Shots For/Game-avg. – Shots Against/Game-avg) over the course of the first 53 games this season. [Click to enlarge].
The Capitals reached a season high on January 26, but dipped in the last two games before the All-Star Break. It will be interesting to check back on this stat after the busy/important week they have ahead.
Today’s bonus stat of the day looks at the Capitals expected goals differential over the course of 53 games played so far this season.
The team also reached a season-best on January 19, despite being without John Carlson since December 23.
[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
Most of the Capitals prospects have been on break over the past few days, so there is little in the way of game reports to convey. As a result, we take a look back at Ethen Frank’s blistering skate from the AHL All-Star Classic skills competition.
Rookie Ethen Frank leads the Bears in goals (21) and is second in points (37)… AND HE CAN FLY! #HBH #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/ctdeTcynvF
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) February 5, 2023
David Gucciardi had a huge goal over the weekend. It gave Michigan State a 3-2 lead against Norte Dame. The Spartans would go on to win the game.
Gucciardi’s one-timer gives MSU back the lead. Absolute laser. pic.twitter.com/DLeDGCiUQx
— Michigan State Hockey (@MSU_Hockey) February 4, 2023
Several of the Capitals prospects, including Alex Alexeyev, Shane Gersich, Joe Snively, Beck Malenstyn and Garrett Pilon, made their way to Miami for the AHL All-Star break, where they hooked up with former Capitals prospect Axel Jonsson-Fjallby.
Good to see Axel Jonsson-Fjallby hanging with his old crew (Shane Gersich, Joe Snively, Beck Malenstyn) during All-Star break. #ALLCAPS #HBH pic.twitter.com/G75Ym5btR0
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) February 7, 2023
The Hershey Bears have wrapped-up their All-Star break and will return to action Friday night against the Comets in Utica, New York.
- The St. Louis Blues traded Vladimir Tarasenko and Niko Mikkola to the New York Rangers for 2023 1st Rd Pick*, Sammy Blais, Hunter Skinner, 2024 4th Rd Pick, and will retain 50% on Tarasenko. [NoVa Caps]
Former Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau will rejoin NHL Network as a studio analyst appearing across its programming. He makes his debut on the network tonight.
- NHL All-Star Game ratings bounced back from last year’s lull, while the previous night’s Skills Competition saw a year-over-year dip. [Sports Media Watch]
- Devils Jack Hughes is week to week with an upper body injury. Devils coach Lindy Ruff said he thinks it’ll be on the shorter end of things but he’s going to miss time, starting tonight against the Kraken.
- Former Cap Andre Burakovsky has been placed on injured reserve for the Seattle Kraken while Former Cap Justin Schultz has be activated from injured reserve.
By Jon Sorensen
Not good. Thought for sure 12 days off would see Wilson and Dowd back.
Understand that but actually better for the Caps in draft position if they dont make it back as that way they might get a higher pick; which they need!
Are you encouraging a “tank”? Not a crazy idea.
Lets say this….making a trade does nothing to imporove this teams chance at winning the Cup as at present they have not been a Cup team for the past 4 year and probably not the next 4 or 5. Also better to let players get 100% before bringing them back and let the young guys (HAHA) play. As for tanking, na, but there is no need to do something silly just to make the playoffs, get a worse draft pick and go out, embarrassingly, in the first round like they have done the past 4 years. This team is NOT today nor will they be a legitimate Cup team for at least 4-5 years so maybe the GM and owner should start thinking that they are a Cup team and act like they are not and do things to get them in that position, like trade older overpriced players for either picks or younger players.
Pretty sure he’s tried this exact line combination before. So….why?
I think that the only player who has not changed lines or positions this year is Ovie!
They haven’t tried you or I, Druid. 😁
LMAO…..No they haven’t tried me but then again I think I’m to young to play for Lav!!
I don’t like NAK on the first line. As much as Mantha frustrates me I would like to see him on that line to see if it gets him going. We need to find out if he is going to be worth a roster spot.
I get what you’re saying, and personally agree with you. However, the “fancy stats” say the line has worked reallly well in the past, although it hasn’t been deployed that much. Maybe Lavi is getting a second look? 🤷♂️
“Fancy Stats” are just that…..Fancy. Just because something works once or twice does not mean it should be changed to an every day occurrence. I can understand the frustration of the HC at the non-production of some lines; however does he stop to think that maybe the lack of production is caused by the other teams D and goalie not his players?
Total TOI of 29.2 for that line combination with an xGF% of 62.9% is very good, but I agree the TOI is relatively low.
Was hoping that Gabby would be a regular on NBCSW Caps games.
Mantha on the “shutdown” 4th line is a joke. He’s terrible fighting puck battles and backchecking. NAK is a better choice with Eller and Hathaway.
Totally agree but if you want to trade him you have to play him somewhere. And remember these may not even be the lines come Saturday game time. I like NAK on the 4th line and either Sheary or Milano (think we can give him the nickname Cookie) on the 1st line.
Second on this! Protas has done really well with 4th line. And Mantha isn’t a 4th liner. And at that price?!?
If they expect to get anything for him in trade he has to play somewhere. maybe management realizes that to get rid of him will cost a young player and a pick that they cannot afford to lose and are just trying to get something for their money before letting him walk after next season. I also like Protas on the 4th line and maybe now is the time to start to work in some of the younger players and at their natural positions; not at what they can play.