The Washington Capitals had the day off on Thursday following their thrilling 5-4 shootout victory over the Buffalo Sabres Wednesday night in the District. They next host the St. Louis Blues tonight at Capital One Arena. Puck drop is set for 7PM.
Sonny Milano returned after missing the last two games with a non-Covid illness. Anthony Mantha and Nick Jensen skated as extras. The forward lines and defensive pairs at Capitals morning skate on Friday, courtesy of Tom Gulitti/NHL.com:
Alex Ovechkin — Dylan Strome — Connor Sheary
T.J. Oshie — Evgeny Kuznetsov — Tom Wilson
Sonny Milano – Nicklas Backstrom – Craig Smith
Aliaksei Protas — Nic Dowd — Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Rasmus Sandin — Trevor Van Riemsdyk
Matt Irwin — Gabriel Carlsson
Alexander Alexeyev – Martin Fehervary
Extras: Anthony Mantha, Nick Jensen, John Carlson
Capitals Power Play Units:
PP1: Sandin, Ovechkin, Oshie, Backstrom, Strome
PP2: TvR, Smith, Wilson, Kuznetsov, Sheary
Darcy Kuemper was the first goalie off the ice this morning, indicating he will most likely get the start against the Blues. Nick Jensen is a game-time decision for tonight’s game, Peter Laviolette announced.
Rasmus Sandin said his leg went numb for 20-25 minutes after he was hit on the outside of the knee by that shot on Wednesday. He was able to return after it felt better. “I couldn’t move it. … It just went numb. It just went dead the whole leg. But it got better.”
The Capitals will look to extend their home point streak to four games (2-0-1) tonight when they host the St. Louis Blues at Capital One Arena for the second and final meeting between the teams this season.
In their first meeting on Nov. 17 at Enterprise Center, the Capitals overcame deficits of 3-0 and 4-2 before falling to the Blues 5-4 in the shootout, despite recording a season-high 51 shots on goal. The Capitals have an all-time record of 11-4-1-0 on Saint Patrick’s Day, including a 6-4-1-0 record at home. [MORE HERE]
STAT OF THE DAY
Today’s stat of the day revisit’s the Capitals expected goals differential (xGF -xGA) through 69 games played so far this season. [Click to enlarge].
The Capitals reached a season-best season high on March 1, but since then have seen a major diminishing of their positive differential. There was a rebound in the last game against the Sabres, so we will see if that is a turning point or a one game variance.
DOWN ON THE FARM
Connor McMichael scored his 13th goal of the season for the Hershey Bears on Wednesday night. The goal was quintessential McMichael, working the crease and pouncing on a bouncing puck before anyone else could react.
Connor McMichael working hard in the dirty area, knocks home his 13th of the season. #ALLCAPS #HBH pic.twitter.com/U3Jj7yc0iI
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) March 15, 2023
Ryan Hofer, fresh off his new deal with the Capitals, notched his 39th goal of the season on Wednesday night. He has 39g, 26a in 60 games played so far this season.
HOF MAKES IT 10! pic.twitter.com/gIiHY8fETr
— Kamloops Blazers (@blazerhockey) March 16, 2023
Bears head coach Todd Nelson u-dated the status of several injured players on Wednesday. He said Vincent Iorio (upper body injury) will be out 7-10 days. Hendrix Lapierre (upper body injury) is still a week away from returning.
- Panthers blitz Canadiens for 7 goals in 1st, win 9-5 thriller. [ESPN]
- What to expect with Diamond Sports bankruptcy. [Sports Business Journal]
- New arena factor in Ottawa Senators sale discussions. [Arena Digest]
- And finally, Lars Eller dented the twine for the first time as a member of the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.
Lars Eller on his first #avs goal: “Everybody was looking around. They were waiting for the whistle, but the whistle never came. So you just don’t quit on the play and then you see what happens.”pic.twitter.com/NvTjs8FUEJ
— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) March 17, 2023
By Jon Sorensen
He is having a joke that he put Irwin with Carlsson higher than Alexyev -Fehervary !
Lavi must be taking those lines randomly out of hat!
In this scenario it was clear Sandin-Fehervary
Alexyev -TVR and MI and GC in 3-rd and he creates this 🤦♀️🤦♀️
We need AT least one strong Defensive player in FIRST pair. We did not put thw best we had there because Jensen and Fehervary made great duo !
But with Jens out ? WTF is this ?
I found it interesting as well. I wonder if it’s a game-specific lineup, so they matchup better with the Blues strengths. That’s all I got though.
If Caps were mathematically out and Lavi in middle of contract, perhaps he would be gathering data. There will be departures and arrivals this summer so having more data is not a bad thing.
Or perhaps he is showing one look to the Blues and will really play another to confuse the opposition. If we can’t figure out his lines, how can they?
This current 4th line and the Milano-Strome-Oshie line should never be separated at this point.
This I agree with. The 4th line was locked down before Hathaway moved on. NAK has filled that hole nicely.
Some of these changes make a lot of sense. Others, not so much.
Mantha sitting in the press box is a good move.
The only thing Bantha (sic) should be doing is munching nachos, and modeling his sharp suit
The trade for Mantha made perfect sense for me. He was young and fast and had great size. And Vrana (no matter how much we loved him) was always going to be trouble. It hasn’t worked out. That’s the way it goes sometimes. I’m NOT blaming GMBM because everything didn’t work out perfectly. Stuff happens.
If it had been a one for one trade, or Vrana and a 2nd for Bantha, I’d be OK with it. But as I’m fond of reminding people, the 1st round pick we sent to them was used to select Wyatt Johnston, who’s having a monster rookie year. He set a Dallas Stars record for most goals by a teenager.
BMac totally blew this one, but perhaps he redeemed himself with the Sandin deal. Win a few, lose a few
If everyone knew how good he was going to be he wouldn’t be there at 15 (or whatever). Doesn’t mean we would have picked him. I have no issue with trade. Looked fine at time. We have won a bunch of moves. We have lost others. This was a tie. We will likely get more for Mantha than Detroit got for Vrana.
It was the 23rd pick. And you have a point, it’s all hindsight now, but the thing is we’ll never know what the Caps would’ve done in that spot. We never got the chance to find out.
Anthony Mantha and the bouncer at a kids birthday party
Name two things that are big, soft and mostly useless
I like OV-Strome-Sheary back together. About time.
On dee pairs. That is either a message or Jensen took some maintenance. Those won’t be the game pairs. No need to get panties in a bunch.
And keep Protas in. Love that!