Peter Laviolette will continue with the line combinations he first introduced in the second period of Sunday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.
The changes essentially spread the team’s talent across the top nine. Lars Eller will center Alex Ovechkin on the first line while the team’s leading scorer, Nicklas Backstrom, will skate with Richard Panik and TJ Oshie on the third.
The Capitals take on their biggest rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins, again Tuesday night.
#Caps lines ahead of PIT:
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) February 23, 2021
“I wanted to just give it a different look and find a balance in the lines in a back-to-back scenario,” Laviolette said. “I actually liked the way that we played the last 10 or 11 minutes of the first period (on Sunday). I liked the way we played in the second and third. I thought we were good with the lines and the production. We got a win so I’m going to leave it alone for a little bit and see how it goes.”
On the power-play formulations, Evgeny Kuznetsov remains on the second power-play unit, a change that has been explained by the coaching staff as trying to make the second power-play unit more dangerous. The Capitals went three for four against the Devils on Sunday (Oshie 2 PPG, Ovechkin 1 PPG).
Capitals power play units:
PP1: Ovechkin, Carlson, Backstrom, Oshie, Vrana
PP2: Kuznetsov, Wilson, Orlov, Schultz, Eller
— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) February 23, 2021
Against the Devils, Eller and Nic Dowd got the most ice time total and at even strength amongst all four centers. Meanwhile, Kuznetsov saw only 12:48 of ice time – his least since February 10, 2020, against the New York Islanders.
Capitals centers ice time vs. New Jersey on Sunday:
Eller 19:12 total/14:53 EV
12:48 was Kuznetsov's lowest ice time total since he played 9:06 before leaving with upper body injury vs. Islanders 2/10/20.
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) February 23, 2021
While skating with the first line at 5v5, Eller and the first line was essentially shelled according to Natural Stat Trick. During approximately eight minutes together, Eller posted a 27 shots-attempt percentage with Ovechkin (6/16) and 33 percent with Wilson (6/12).
Meanwhile, Vitek Vanecek will start and Craig Anderson will back the rookie up.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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