Game Preview: Capitals Look For First Win Against Calgary Flames

The Washington Capitals will look to get into the win column for the first time this season against the Calgary Flames after their 4-0 loss on opening night against the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

Here are the projected lines:

Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – T.J. Oshie
Connor McMichael – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Tom Wilson
Sonny Milano – Dylan Strome – Matthew Phillips
Beck Malenstyn – Nic Dowd – Aliaksei Protas

Rasmus Sandin – John Carlson
Martin Fehervary – Trevor van Riemsdyk
Alex Alexeyev – Nick Jensen

Darcy Kuemper
Clay Stevenson 

Charlie Lindgren left Monday’s morning skate according to Bailey Johnson of The Washington Post. Caps head coach Spencer Carbery did not have an update regarding Lindgren’s status as to whether or not he will back up Darcy Kuemper, who will make his season debut. Clay Stevenson has been recalled from Hershey and will be backup tonight.

Aliaksei Protas will slot back into the lineup after he was sent down to Hershey on a paper transaction, which means that Anthony Mantha will be a healthy scratch. 

Mantha has been a big storyline heading into the new season as to whether or not he can bounce back from another underwhelming campaign last year. He had 11 goals in 67 games in 2022-23. 

“We’ve been working a lot with Anthony and his game and getting it up to the level that we feel like it, he feels like he’s capable of. I think the biggest thing is just offensively. There’s no secret he’s an offensive player and he’s not a penalty killer, he’s not a real defensive specialist. He’s an offensive player that needs to create and needs to score,” Carbery said. “That’s sort of the area that we’ve dialed in and really focused on is trying to get his confidence level and try to get his touches back to the level that he’s been capable of in his career.”

Meanwhile, Alex Alexeyev will take Lucas Johansen’s place on the third pairing with Nick Jensen. Carbery said that Johansen sitting out has nothing to do with his play against the Penguins, but rather an opportunity for Alexeyev to get into the lineup. The 23-year-old played in 32 games last year and racked up five assists. 

Matthew Phillips will play his former team for the first time on Monday. The 5-foot-8 forward has spent his entire pro career with Calgary’s organization, primarily with the Calgary Wranglers. He played three NHL games with the Flames. 

Scouting Calgary

The Flames (1-1-0) are also looking to bounce back after a 5-2 loss against the Penguins. 

The Flames, like the Capitals, have a fresh voice behind the bench in Ryan Huska. Darryl Sutter was let go after the Flames missed the playoffs last year for the second time during Sutter’s three-year tenure. 

“A little bit different team makeup since the coaching change. A little bit of a change with their D being active but they’re still a heavy shot volume team. We’re gonna have to do a really good job defending the net front. A lot of low to high ready shoots, puck is coming inside. Against [Pittsburgh] they heavily out shot them or shot-attempted them in that game,” Carbery said. “The things that we focus on when you’re playing a team like that is you got to do a real good job number one getting in shot lanes, stopping pucks from getting up top, but when they do shoot from the point is you got to be real good on sticks, you got to be real good on box-outs they only get that first shot [and] there’s no secondary chances and then we get that puck recovery and get out of the defensive zone.”

Capitals Will Look For More Interior Presence Against Calgary Flames

Players to watch

Rookie forward Matt Coronato scored his first NHL goal against Pittsburgh and is projected to have a big year. Coronato is coming off a two-year stint with the Harvard Crimson and was third on the team with 36 points (20 goals, 16 assists) in 34 games. 

Andrew Mangiapane currently has four points (two goals, two assists) in two games, which leads the team. 

Dan Vladar is the projected starter for Calgary after Jacob Markstrom started the first two games against Pittsburgh and the Winnipeg Jets respectively. 

The Caps will take on the Flames at 7 p.m. at Capital One Arena. 

By Jacob Cheris

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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9 Responses to Game Preview: Capitals Look For First Win Against Calgary Flames

  1. Anonymous says:

    still want NAK back

  2. Anonymous says:

    To reward the Capitals for finally benching Mantha, I will watch the game tonight despite how severely Ovie is handicapped by his line mates on the 1st line. Maybe Spencer needs one more game to get it out of his system…either way Mantha off the ice equals me watching with low expectations.

    Can this be the last game we pander to nostalgia? Why do we have 3rd and 4th liners on line 1?

    Hopefully Spencer will notice and make adjustments during the game and then start off right the next game.

    With a loss tonight, I could see GMBM making a few phone calls to discuss trades, we also still have NAK in Hershey, Max Pac and Edmundson coming up before you know it. GMBM should line some trades up now and be ready for when his two experiments return.

    Either way win or lose tonight will be a win….If the Caps win hopefully Mantha will remain benched. If the Caps lose, we will be one step closer to GMBM having to actually do something and or we are a step closer to tanking.

    I would love nothing more than to wake up after the Caps winning the next few games to see the headline “Anthony Mantha has requested a trade”. Not because we could actually trade him but we would at least know his time with the Capitals is up.

    One can find balance in duality – Bruce Lee (or someone like that)

    • novafyre says:

      I have to believe that Mantha does not plan on playing next year in the NHL. He didn’t work out for the Wings and hasn’t worked out for the Caps. Two cities, three coaches. He’s not a young rookie with future “potential.” I believe he is now retired in place. He’s drawing his paycheck and will move on (retirement, Europe, Russia) when the season is over. Sitting means less wear and tear on his body. If he invested wisely, he’s financially secure. What does he have to complain about? Why should he change?

  3. SoCalSteve says:

    Backstrom and Oshie “third and fourth liners”? Bwahahahahahahaha!

    • Anonymous says:

      At this stage in their careers…….yeah

    • franky619 says:

      Backstrom would be playing in sweden if he was’nt playing for the Caps. No other team would offer him a PTO.

      • Anonymous says:

        Remember if Ovie does not break the record and or win a Cup again, it’s more about the friends we made along the way!

    • Anonymous says:

      Hey the fans are the joke as long as Oshie and Backstrom are on the first or even the 2nd line.

      Oshie should be injured in a few games anyways and that will be one down.

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