Preparing For The Pens: Notes From Capitals Optional Friday Practice

The Washington Capitals held an optional practice Friday afternoon following their 6-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night. The team will travel to Pittsburgh this afternoon in advance of their tilt with the Penguins on Saturday night. Puck drop is a prime time 8PM on ABC and ESPN.


John Carlson recorded two points (1g, 1a) in his return to the Capitals’ lineup on Thursday, as Washington defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 6-1 at Capital One Arena.

Carlson, Alex Ovechkin (1g, 1a), Nicklas Backstrom (1g, 1a) and Dylan Strome (2a) each recorded two points in the victory to move the Capitals (34-31-8, 76 pts.) within four points of the Eastern Conference’s second Wild Card spot, currently occupied by the Pittsburgh Penguins (35-27-10, 80 pts.).


The Capitals and Penguins will complete their three-game season series tomorrow in Pittsburgh at 8 p.m. on ABC and ESPN+. Washington is 1-1-0 versus Pittsburgh this season and have won three-straight games at PPG Paints Arena. [MORE HERE]


Today’s stat of the day takes a look at the stats for the each and everyone of the Capitals defensive pairings deployed in Thursday night’s game against the Blackhawks. The graph includes time on ice (TOI) and expected goals for percentage (xGF%) for each defensive pair combination deployed in the game. [Click to enlarge].

Peter Laviolette said prior to last night’s game he would pair John Carlson, who was making his first start since December 23, with Martin Fehervary, but would also try a few other combinations. He did just that.

Carlson essentially played equal time with Fehervary and newcomer Rasmus Sandin. After one game (and it’s just one game) the Carlson-Sandin pairing worked the best.

[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]


Ryan Chesley and the Minnesota Golden Gophers won best Canisius 9-3 in the the first round of the 2023 NCAA tournament. They next face St. Cloud State on Saturday. St. Cloud State beat Minnesota State in their first round game on Thursday.

Mitchell Gibson and Harvard begin their run to the Frozen Four this afternoon when they face Ohio State. Puck drop is set for 2PM ET on ESPN.

Chase Clark and Quinnipiac also get things started today when they face Merrimack. Puck drop is set for 5:30PM ET on ESPN.

For Bears Vinny Iorio, Confidence Is Key [AHL]


    • Tage Thompson could do something that has never been done in NHL history. [ESPN]
    • Welsome, Lucas van Riemsdyk!
    • The NHL call-up who uplifted the Humboldt Broncos after tragedy. [The Score]

    • And finally, Jenner Jensen, wife of Capitals defenseman Nick Jensen, impressed in last night’s slapshot competition. Maybe Monumental Sports can sign her to a two-way deal. Jensen played basketball during her college days and the Wizards could also use her help.

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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14 Responses to Preparing For The Pens: Notes From Capitals Optional Friday Practice

  1. Anonymous says:

    One game for sure but I am not one of those who believe MF has improved and could now be called top pair. May still become that but I am liking AA more and more over MF lately.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Not an outrageous take. I see things somewhat similar- maybe not as harsh on Fehervary, but I see AA improving. He had nearly 5 mins on the PK last night as well. Caps are pushing him to see what they got so they can finalize off-season roster management strategy.

      • Anonymous says:

        Agree on Alex, but unfair for Fehervary.

        For me this is Beyond outrageous still.

        Especialy to say he is not top pair player = asking also you! Why ?

        Extremly sad by how Caps fans are behaving towards some of players ! Changing opinions like socks.
        Often going just after best out there because of what ? Doing their job ?

        Applies to Fehervary, Dowd, Goalies, Aube Kubel….

        And than saying that Rasmus is doing good job or some others just burns my eyes !

        People should use eyes more and try to look also on those who do not shine on FIRST sight!

        I AM asking would this team be better or worse wirhout Fehervary? For everyone who watches it that must be clear.

        He is crucial player of this Group just not that exciting as Mr. I AM there with 4 goals and still finish -2!

        I Stand by point that he is one of our best players.

        I don’t understand this especialy after recent games where he was more than visible and eye catching even ofensively.

        BTW even that Alex was better with him! And I feel like everyone is better next to Marty= he can play with anyone and everywhere and deliver. He played out of possition in all pairs and all players and still played His game.

        How many of them can say that?


    • Anonymous says:

      I can not agree here.

      Alex has improved thanks god.

      But what it has to do with Fehervary?

      What exactly is he doing wrong ? Or what he did wrong in recent games ? He is playing very well on both sides on ice.
      Did not he improve ? Really ? Watch carefully. He started on great level and definitely is better this Year especialy recently.

      Only thing I dont get here is Why he is not playing more over some like Sandin or TVR.

      Alex is getting to level, but Fehervary is still better defenseman.
      And most importantly he has a stable level what Alex still did not prove. He still looses to many pucks compared to Fehervary while Fehervary still plays harder minutes.

      If Fehervary is not top pair defenseman and Alexyev is than I don’t understand Caps fans anymore. There is not a better candidate for that spot next to John.

      For me Alexyev is still far from Fehervary despite playing on great level but that should be compliment not downplay on Fehervary !

      I don’t know what it is About Caps fans and Fehervary but it is insane.

      He was our best defenseman when we were rubish in games and lost hardly. His Numbers in +|- are best from defenseman in recent games even if he D does not score that much than others he also does not allow that much goals and doesn’t do that much mistakes.

      I liked everything si see from him

      But well there are people saying Rasmus is better D man than him so Why AM I even suprised right ?

      If you wanna say that prove that with some point = I spent weeks asking people saying that Why but no one can give a reason.

      The fact that Alex finaly got to level we expected from His draft position does not mean Fehervary is not good Dman or that he is not a top pair ready ! Again based on what ?

      There is nothing wrong with neither of them for their age They are both exceptionaly good.

      I just think that Fehervary is still better than him comfortably and definitely like what I see from him there. And he has a Lot that no other guy has here.

      Fehervary is with Jensen our best Defensive way less games he produced nearly as much points than last Year already ( while playing with Irwin most of last Year) He is smart, moves puck well, he is fast and physical and his first pass is very good as well as his work with puck.

      Start to Watch it people. Sadly he does not produce that much of Wow effect ! But what he brings to team is ireplacable and he deserves a very good deal.

      Just so sad he became so underrated for no reason. And surprised by it especialy after last 10-15 games where he was amazing.

      • Anonymous says:

        Lighten up. Everyone has an opinion. We all see things differently. If you think MF is the second coming of Bobby Orr that is fine. I personally haven’t seen it. I haven’t changed my opinion of MF I hope he grows in to what you think he already is. It is not tearing down MF to like AA. I hope they become our top pairing in the near future.

        • Anonymous says:

          I AM not saying he is Bobby Orr, but he is very good player

          And again I have not got a single point Why you said it.

          As always

          • Anonymous says:

            Look at chart above. No one had higher xGF when playing with MF compared to other partners

            • Anonymous says:

              Numbers are not everything !

              Try eyes.

              In my opinion all of them are better with him but Ok.

              And Yeah His Numbers sadly went to waste with Irwin.

            • KimRB says:

              That chart is for one game. Too small a sample size to draw conclusions. I’d also want to know which pairs were taking the majority of defensive zone starts. You can’t really tell much from the information given.

              • Anonymous says:

                Didn’t make a conclusion, gave an opinion. Have watched all year and have not noticed growth over last year. Doesn’t mean he won’t improve. Still young.

  2. Anonymous says:

    All the adversity face by the caps this season, and yet, here we are, HUGE Game against the Penguins. Playoffs start tomorrow.

    • KimRB says:

      May 8 is the most important date to me. Draft lottery. I don’t want to squeak into the playoffs to be a sacrificial lamb for Boston.

    • James says:

      Here’s hoping they go easy on us. On the other hand – maybe the fact that it’s the Pens will inspire some extra energy and drive. It could happen.
      In any event – this season is over. Evaluation of talent is the job that needs doing.

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