Capitals Gameday: Nic Dowd Out, Hunter Shepard Recalled, Lines For Maple Leafs

The Washington Capitals begin the first game of their first back-to-back slate of the new campaign against the Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday night at Capital One Arena. Puck drop is set for 6PM. 

Here are the projected lines for Tuesday’s tilt. 

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

 Martin Fehervary – John Carlson
Rasmus Sandin – Trevor van Riemsdyk
Alex Alexeyev – Nick Jensen
Hardy Häman Aktell – Lucas Johansen

 Darcy Kuemper
Hunter Shepard

 Injured: Charlie Lindgren, Nic Dowd, Max Pacioretty, Joel Edmundson

Washington (1-2-1) announced on Tuesday that they have recalled Hunter Shepard from the Hershey Bears and loaned Clay Stevenson to Hershey. Stevenson has been serving as the backup for the last three games due to Charlie Lindgren going down with an upper-body injury. 

Capitals head coach Spencer Carbery confirmed that Shepard will make his first career NHL start on Wednesday against the New Jersey Devils.

The Caps changed up their defense pairings on Monday. John Carlson is now paired with Martin Fehervary and Rasmus Sandin is paired with Trevor van Riemsdyk. Alex Alexeyev will slot back into the lineup after Hardy Häman Aktell made his NHL debut against the Montreal Canadiens. Carlson played with Fehervary for the majority of last season. 

Through the first four games of the season, Washington’s offense has struggled mightily, scoring 1.25 goals per game, which is dead last in the NHL. 

However, Carbery said that the offense has been the better part of his club’s game because of how much they have focused on it. The Caps looked better offensively against the Canadiens. They got good contributions from their star players and were getting better scoring chances compared to games prior. 

“I think this was our best game all year,” Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said on Monday. “Obviously, we lost but the chances we generated for all those three periods; it was good.”

However, the lack of structure in the defensive zone is what has worried him the most. 

“There Were Some Positive Steps… But We Still Got A Lot Of Work To Do”: Capitals Prepare To Host High-Powered Maple Leafs

“Defensively, we need to tighten up a lot. The Montreal game, and you’ve seen it through the first four games, we need to be a lot better,” Carbery said at Tuesday’s morning skate. “Puck management is a huge part of that. There’s some details inside of our structure that we’re missing on a lot of individual things, whether it’s a one-on-one battle, whether it’s getting beat off the rush like you see in Montreal a couple times where we turn a two-on-two into a full breakaway, where they beat us wide and it ends up in the back of our net [and] our tracker gets beat up ice. We just need to do a way better job with the little details.”

This will be the first time that Carbery will be coaching against Toronto. He spent the last two seasons with Toronto as an assistant coach, where he ran the NHL’s second-best power play last year. 

“Excited to see some familiar faces and a lot of positive memories over the last couple of years,” Carbery said. “A lot of built relationships over there, but I’m sure once the puck drops it’s business and obviously they have a real talented team. We have our hands full, and it’s an important time in our season to try to get some momentum.”

Meanwhile, defenseman Rasmus Sandin will also be playing against Toronto for the first time in his career. The Swedish rearguard was traded to Washington at last year’s trade deadline. The Caps acquired Sandin in exchange for Erik Gustafsson and a 2023 first-round pick (originally Boston’s). 

“It’s a lot of fun, I mean, there’s more friends than on the other side off the ice, but it’s gonna be a special one, but it’s gonna be a lot of fun too,” Sandin said. “Hopefully we can come up with the win too.”

Scouting Toronto

The Maple Leafs (3-2-0) are coming off a 4-3 overtime win against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Auston Matthews opened the regular season with back-to-back hat tricks. He currently has six goals on the campaign which is first on the team. 

William Nylander leads Toronto with nine points (four goals, five assists) in five games. Captain John Tavares also has nine points and has seven assists. 

Joseph Woll will be in between the pipes for Toronto after coming in relief for former Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov against Tampa Bay. Woll is currently 1-1-0 with a 1.69 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage.

Player To Watch

Rookie forward Matthew Knies made an instant impact with the Leafs. The 2021 second-round pick currently has three points (two goals, one assist) in five games. He scored twice against the Lightning.

The Capitals take on the Maple Leafs at 6 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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7 Responses to Capitals Gameday: Nic Dowd Out, Hunter Shepard Recalled, Lines For Maple Leafs

  1. andrew777dc says:

    Hmm, are we getting somewhere? Some things were kind of in plain sight, like certain D pairings. First and third line C, before that. Oh well, the game will tell)

  2. Dave says:

    One thing I’m wondering about: it seems to be a general consensus that the Caps are old and slow. Okay, there are some old(er) guys, but as I look at the lineup, Strome and especially Phillips are fast enough, as are McM and Kuzy, as well as Milano and Wilson. On the D pairs, Fehervary, TVR and Jensen also have good speed. Granted, these were not the lines and pairs we went with before, but it seems there might be sufficient speed in the lineup after all.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Mantha actually showed some effort last game. Will he do it two games in a row? Check your Magic 8 ball because that’s as good a prediction as possible with this guy. My guess is no.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Ready for the Capitals beating tonight! Expecting a Toronto blow out.

    If GMBM does not stop kicking the can down the road concerning this ssip poor roster, I would not be surprised if Ovie quietly requests a trade
    Clocks ticking…promises have been broken and each game that Ovie goes goaless moves us closer to the possibility.

    If us fans are frustrated imagine where Ovie is at.. He is not going to put up with incompetent GMBM much longer. It embarrassing.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I would have no objections to trading Ovie however with his salary and age who is going to take him and how many bad contracts are the Caps going to have to take back? Not going to receive what this team needs most for him which is high 1st round picks and young NHL ready players. Besides with the man crush that Ted has on Ovie, he would not let it happen. If Ovie is frustrated well the “coach Killer” should be and that is something that honestly I do not care about. Making $9.5 mil a year it is his job to score and as team captain motivate the rest of the team and help make them better. From what I have observed over the past years Ovie is at his best when he scores and honestly a two trick pony, scoring and hitting, is all he is and thats not enough for this team. Lleaders lead by example as sad to say but Ovie looks about as apathetic as the rest of the team. There are players on this team, Kuzy, Backy and Mantha, who should not be playing here but instead be playing elsewhere or retired or in the stands. This team is a mess and will be for the next 2 years. Then the rebuild can start and a better future on the horizon!

    Much of the current state of affairs rests in the owners lap, who thinks this team is still a playoff team, and the GM for several bad trades and picks. When so many teams passed on Kuzy and Samsonov and from hindsight appear they were right why does the Caps brass think that they got steals in the draft? Time for a new GM and scouting staff!!

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