On Monday morning, Peter Laviolette took the ice for the first time as head coach of the Washington Capitals.
Wearing his blue Capitals sweatsuit, Warrior gloves, and a black athletic mask, Laviolette wasted little time before debuting the first lines of the 2021. These lines could be pretty close to what we will see on opening night.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) January 4, 2021
Here were Laviolette’s lines to open training camp, via Samantha Pell of the Washington Post:
Initial Capitals lines this AM:
*No Chara today
— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) January 4, 2021
These lines should look familiar, especially in the top six. The top line of Ovechkin-Kuznetsov-Wilson skated together for 230 minutes last season, and the Vrana-Backstrom-Oshie line for 120 minutes. That top six is exactly how the Caps began their playoff series against the Islanders last season, until Backstrom got injured.
The bottom six is similar, with just one swap: offseason addition Conor Sheary in for Carl Hagelin on the third line. Hagelin is now on the fourth line with grinder regulars, Dowd and Hathaway.
On defense, Laviolette seems to be shaking things up a bit more with a top-heavy top pairing of Dmitry Orlov and John Carlson, a complementary skill combination that had great results last season. New defender Justin Schultz is paired with Brendon Dillon, and Trevor van Riemsdyk with Martin Fehervary. Zdeno Chara is still in quarantine.
This is just the Group A workout, though the implication from the camp roster is that Group A is the likely NHL-level starting unit, whereas Group B, who practice at 3 PM, is filled with more marginal players.
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