After the first three games of the regular season, the Washington Capitals made several roster moves on Sunday to accommodate what their actual regular-season roster will look like. The Capitals put Travis Boyd on waivers, demoted Martin Fehervary, and sent Jonas Siegenthaler down to Hershey for a day.
Those moves opened up two roster spots and just enough money to accommodate Evgeny Kuznetsov and Michal Kempny back onto the active roster. Kuznetsov is returning from a three-game suspension while Kempny rehabbed a hamstring injury suffered last season.
Monday, both players re-joined rushes during practice. Here’s how the lines stacked up.
Caps lines today at practice:
— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) October 7, 2019
As #Caps practice begins, Siegenthaler is not on the ice. Sent down in a paper transaction yesterday, Siegenthaler can’t rejoin the team until Boyd clears waivers at noon.
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) October 7, 2019
In a surprise, Kuznetsov centered the third line instead of his normal spot on the second. Kempny was paired with his partner from last season John Carlson.
Kuzy centering the third line speaks more to just how good Jakub Vrana, Lars Eller, and TJ Oshie have been than anything else. The Capitals’ second line has been the team’s best line by a mile to start the season.
Eller, Oshie, and Vrana are all among the top four in five-on-five shot-attempt percentage – all at or above 63 percent.
The second line has scored three (Vrana, 2 and Oshie, 1) of the Capitals’ four even-strength (5v5) goals this season and all three players lead the team in points (3). It’s early, but something is clearly clicking. And Todd Reirden does not want to mess with that mojo.
A wizard with the puck, Kuznetsov scored 21 goals and put up 72 points last season, but he also had one of the worst defensive seasons in recent NHL history. If he can improve the Capitals’ third line and make them more dangerous, that will be a net benefit to a team that has accumulated five of six possible standings points and already looks very good to start the season.
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