The Washington Capitals took the ice on Thursday without four of their best players: Alex Ovechkin, the team’s elite goalscorer and captain; Evgeny Kuznetsov, the team’s second-line center; Dmitry Orlov, a first-pairing defender; and Ilya Samsonov, the team’s starting netminder. The four Russians were placed on the NHL’s COVID unavailability list due to breaking protocol during their recent road trip and the team was fined $100,000.
Capitals’ head coach Peter Laviolette responded to the absences by promoting Jakub Vrana to the first line, Brenden Dillon to the first pairing, and the bottom six to the middle six. Jonas Siegenthaler, who has sat during all four games this season, jumped onto the second pair and skated with Justin Schultz while Conor Sheary got back into the lineup.
Here are the full lines and pairings via NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti.
Capitals lines and D at practice today:
Extra: van Riemsdyk, Fehervary, McMichael
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) January 21, 2021
You’ll notice other changes as well. The Capitals’ 2019 first-round pick, Connor McMichael, was one of the team’s extra forwards during the skate after being placed on the taxi squad this morning while Craig Anderson backed up Vitek Vanecek in net after being recalled to the main roster.
On special teams, Tom Wilson and Jakub Vrana were bumped up to the first power-play unit.
PP1: Backstrom, Oshie, Wilson, Vrana and Carlson
PP2: Eller, Panik, Sheary, Sprong and Schultz#Caps
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) January 21, 2021
It’s unclear how long Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, Orlov, and Samsonov will have to sit due to breaking protocol, but it’s possible they could miss Friday’s home opener against the Buffalo Sabres.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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