Nic Dowd Set To Return, Changes To Forward Lines And Defensive Pairs: Notes From Capitals Monday Practice

The Washington Capitals returned to MedStar Capitals Iceplex Monday morning for practice following a day off for the team on Sunday. The Capitals begin a three-game home stand Tuesday night when they host the Detroit Red Wings at Capital One Arena. Puck drop is set for 7PM.

Nic Dowd (lower body injury) returned to centering the 4th line. Lars Eller moved to left wing on the third line with Sonny Milano. Aliaksei Protas and Nicolas Aube-Kubel shared the left wing on the fourth line.

Dmitry Orlov moved up to the top pairing with Trevor van Riemsdyk. Martin Fehervary moved up to the second pairing with Nick Jensen. Erik Gustafsson moved down from the top pair to the third pair with Dylan McIlrath. The forward lines and defensive pairs at Monday’s practice, courtesy of Tom Gulitti/

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

Dmitry Orlov — Trevor Van Riemsdyk
Martin Fehervary — Nick Jensen
Erik Gustafsson – Dylan McIlrath

Darcy Kuemper
Charlie Lindgren

Extras: Alexander Alexeyev, Matt Irwin

Dowd called this his first full practice in six weeks and said he didn’t know if he’d play tomorrow yet. Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette said Dowd is “definitely getting closer” and they plan to discuss this afternoon whether he’ll be able to play tomorrow.


Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette was asked after practice when Alex Ovechkin might return from Russia.


Liam Reigel, 12, is at Capitals practice with Make A Wish and gets the team celebration treatment after scoring on Darcy Kuemper.

Liam, from Eldersburg, Md., has a brain tumor and wanted to meet Lars Eller, who is his favorite player.


John Carlson was on the ice before Capitals practice on Monday morning, working out with Capitals skating coach, Wendy Marco. Carlson has been out since he was hit in the head by a shot on December 23.

The Capitals have said Carlson will be reevaluated at end of the month to determine the next steps for him, but he’s still a ways away from returning.


Today’s stat of the day revisits the Capitals team shooting percentage at five-on-five over the course of the season (58 games). [Click to enlarge].

The Capitals have dropped to an even 8.00% after 58 games. The steady decline since mid-January has the Capitals now well below the league average of 8.41%. They are now 20th in the league.

Bonus Stat – why the return of Nic Dowd is so important can be easily defined in the following metrics table.

[The statistics used in this post are courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, MoneyPuck 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]


Ethen Frank scored the first goal of the game in both of the Bears games against the Checkers this weekend in Charlotte. Sunday’s goal came less than two minutes into the contest.

Ryan Hofer scored his 34th goal of the season on Sunday. He also recoded an assist, his 19th in 49 games played so far this season.

Connor McMichael was the only Bear to convert in the shootout against the Checkers on Sunday.

Hendrix Lapierre was a healthy scratch for a second consecutive game on Sunday. Bears bench boss Todd Nelson spoke about the scratching of Lapierre during his regular appearance on the Bears pregame show on Saturday.

“Lappy’s sitting out, just because, right now he is frustrated. We kinda wanna use this as a reset button for him. He’s a great kid, he’s a student of the game. We just want him to watch the game from up top. Watch the intensity of the players, playing. We just feel that his intensity has to rise up. That’s very common with a young player like him. He’ll get back in the lineup very soon.” [MORE HERE]


  • The Islanders announced Monday morning that Mathew Barzal will be out indefinitely with a lower body injury. Lane Lambert wouldn’t engage on questions as to whether Mat Barzal is out for the season or if he’s at risk for missing the start of training camp. Just repeats he’s out indefinitely and he’ll leave it at that.

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 Nic Dowd Set To Return, Changes To Forward Lines And Defensive Pairs: Notes From Capitals Monday Practice

  1. Diane Doyle says:

    What has been their shooting percentage for 2023, besides bad?

  2. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if these are sensible changes, or shuffling the deck chairs?

  3. hockeydruid says:

    This is going to be a good test for this team as Detroit has 60 points and are 7-3 in their last 10. Over the next 4 games they play Detroit, Anaheim, the Rangers and then away at Buffalo. Even IF they are 2-2 in these 4 games they need to be sellers and get rid of as many UFA and RFA as possible and also high salaries and then hopefully pick up a few younger players, mostly all minor leaguers and picks!! Maybe after this 4 game stretch the GM will see the wisdom of firing the HC, starting a fire sale and starting a rebuild.

    • GRin430 says:

      UFAs can/should go, RFAs definitely should not. The 2 Caps RFAs are Fehervary and Alexeyev. They are young D the Caps need to hold onto.

      • Jon Sorensen says:

        Good test indeed. I’d say it’s even a “must win”, as well as Anaheim in next game.

        • hockeydruid says:

          Jon, I think that 3 of the next 4 are must wins if they want to bein the playoffs. If they lose then then its like in the movie Trading Places where Randolph Mortimer says to his brother “Sell, Sell, Sell!”

      • hockeydruid says:

        Agree that both Fehervary and Alexeyev need to be resigned. However will they sign for moe than 1 year if Lav is retained as head coach? I have grave doubts that one UFA that the Caps could retain will stay here, Orlov as I think at his age he is looking for 1 last contract and BIG money. Better to let him go and not have big money invested in another over 30 player.

  4. Missy says:

    It only took 1,5 months and 4 looses in row to make some reasonable changes in D-zone ? Can not believe my eyes …..

    Jensen -Fehervary was something we should have been playing for weeks now and Gustavson should have been in 3-rd for few weeks as well

  5. Anonymous says:

    Eller getting squeezed out. The Protas-Dowd-Hathaway line has been one of the best in hockey this season. No way Lavi doesn’t quickly return to that with Dowd back.

  6. dwgie26 says:

    I am sadly now in the sell a couple of players camp. Starting with Eller who definitely has some value and we should just do it. Same for Mantha if we can get value. Let Protas play on 4th line. It works for gods sake.

    going to need to fix the dee in the offseason. But i don’t get the hate on Gus and moving him to third pair as where he should be. Been our best d-man this year (sadly). McIlrath brings a right stick to third pair which i think we need and unfortunately Iorio and Chesley are not options this year.

    Finally broken down and frustrated with this team.

  7. Jon Sorensen says:

    • Missy says:

      He has been our what ?????????

      Are we talking About DEFENSE ???

      He is safely worst in Defensive work > eyes not only Numbers Please.
      His defending is often very poor. His Numbers are Nice, he has Lot of + points > mostly Thanks to where he played and he did not finish – in many games only due to fact that 1-St line scored a Lot.

      All TVR, Jensen, Marty and Orlov are way better Dman consistently.

      And last month from Gus was definitely not best ….btw Fehervary played in 3-rd While being far from our worst D.

      It is more About getting Orlov into FIRST and there TVR rightly got priority and Jens and Mary back together which was duo which worked great and Should have come way sooner in my opinion.

    • Rob says:

      So it looks like everyone plays better with Hathaway. Why hasn’t he been re-signed?

  8. Stuart says:

    Sell. Sell. Sell. Sheary. Eller. Hathaway. MoJo. Gustafsson. Irwin. Get as many picks as you can for this upcoming draft, which is deep.

    If they can’t re-sign TVR, Orlov, or Jensen, then sell them too. You can always try to re-sign them in the off-season.

    • Missy says:

      Why to sell Hathaway ?

      • GRin430 says:

        Only to get something now for UFAs that they could re-sign in the July anyway. Hathaway would be a nice piece for a playoff team to have — his size and style suits playoff hockey well. The Caps are not serious contenders, even if they sneak in via the last wildcard spot. Hathaway isn’t going to help them enough for the rest of this year to for them to pass up getting even a mid-round pick for him.

      • hockeydruid says:

        Missy Hathaway is a UFA after the season and will want more money and at 31/32 the Caps can find younger cheaper players to play his spot.

    • hockeydruid says:

      Stuart, I say resign Gustafsson as at 30 he may still come cheap and say 3 years at the most. Orlov at 31 is looking for his last contact and a BIG payday and the Caps should let him walk as they have the injury prone Oshie still and also Carlson who is no spring chicken and hurt for some time now so dont need another big salary with age the potential problem. Unless TVR comes cheap no sign and trade Jensen.

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