After six straight games in the lineup to start the season, Daniel Sprong was scratched by Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette against the Detroit Red Wings.
The Capitals would go on to lose to the Red Wings 3-2 in overtime and a noticeable early-season trend continued in the game. The Caps young players are being limited by their ice time.
Laviolette on scratching Sprong: "It was just a lineup decision. There are 13 forwards here and just based on play, we decided to make that decision." #Caps
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) October 28, 2021
In his last game in the lineup against the Ottawa Senators, Sprong played a team-low 7:42 but still was able to fire four individual shot attempts and recorded three individual scoring chances. At five-on-five this season Sprong has been on the ice for five goals for and only one against.
This isn’t the first time under Laviolette that Sprong has left the lineup unexpectedly as he was replaced by Daniel Carr before Game Three against the Boston Bruins last May.
“We’re looking for players with different traits and bring different attributes to a line,” Laviolette said at the time. “At that point, we’re looking for somebody for probably more D-zone starts who can take care of business in the defensive zone.”
In his wrap-up press conference, last season Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan spoke about getting more youth involved in the lineup this season and highlighted Sprong in his comments.
“Sprong had a good year this year,” MacLellan said. “He’s a good young player. Looking to get him more ice time.”
Sprong has played on average 10:41 of ice time per game this season which is the second-lowest total only to Hendrix Lapierre who has skated on average 8:58 per game. Sprong and Lapierre are two of three forwards on the Capitals roster under the age of 25. The third forward in that group is Connor McMichael…who has played the third-lowest average total ice time per game this season at 11:53.
All three of those players don’t share much responsibility when it comes to the team’s special teams units but Sprong and Lapierre still rank bottom two in average even-strength time on ice as well.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong
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