The Washington Capitals announced ahead of their return to the ice on Monday that six players are now quarantining after contracting or being exposed to COVID-19 during the NHL’s four-day pause to the season.
Daniel Sprong and Justin Schultz entered protocol on December 21 while Nick Jensen (December 23), Martin Fehervary (December 24), Vitek Vanecek (December 24), and Dennis Cholowski (December 24) were added to the list in the days following.
Per the Capitals PR:
The following #Caps players are unavailable due to the NHL's COVID-19 protocol: Daniel Sprong (12/21), Justin Schultz (12/21), Nick Jensen (12/23), Vitek Vanecek (12/24), Dennis Cholowski (12/24), Martin Fehervary (12/24).
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) December 27, 2021
The Capitals responded by recalling Pheonix Copley and defenseman Michal Kempny from Hershey. Copley, who served as Braden Holtby’s backup during the 2018-19 season, has started in goal in over half of Hershey’s games this season (14 of 26). Kempny, a member of the Capitals’ Stanley Cup championship team, is back after being sent down to the AHL before the 2021-22 season started.
Kempny lost his NHL roster spot after suffering three traumatic injuries to his left leg in three years and being replaced at the NHL level by Fehervary. Kempny tallied seven points, all assists, and 32 PIMs in 24 games with Hershey this season.
The Capitals also added three players to a temporary taxi squad that the NHL instituted on Sunday and will last through All-Star Weekend. Former first-round picks, defensemen Alex Alexeyev and Lucas Johansen, will join Brett Leason as the first members of this year’s squad.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) December 27, 2021
According to The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir, there was some good news Monday as both Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov took the ice for today’s practice. Both centers are able to be activated from protocol whenever they are deemed ready. TJ Oshie remains out.
— julia (@casadoresdean) December 27, 2021
As it stands, the Capitals have 12 healthy forwards once Backstrom and Kuznetsov come out of protocol and Tom Wilson comes off injured reserve which he seemed prime to do before the break. However, the Capitals only have five healthy defensemen even with the inclusion of Kempny so Alexeyev or Johansen could make their NHL debut on Wednesday against the Nashville Predators.
More from the Capitals:
Capitals Recall Pheonix Copley and Michal Kempny from Hershey
Defensemen Alex Alexeyev and Lucas Johansen and forward Brett Leason re-assigned to the Caps Taxi Squad
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have recalled goaltender Pheonix Copley and defenseman Michal Kempny from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL) and have re-assigned defensemen Lucas Johansen and Alex Alexeyev and forward Brett Leason from Hershey to the taxi squad, senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today.
Copley, 29, has posted a record of 8-5-1 with a 2.75 goals-against average and a .897 save percentage in 14 games with Hershey this season. During the 2020-21 season, Copley led Hershey goaltenders in wins (10), shutouts (2) and games played (15) and ranked seventh in wins and eighth in goals-against average (2.66) in the AHL. Copley and Zach Fucale received the AHL’s Harry “Hap” Holmes Memorial Award in 2020-21, presented to the goaltenders on the team which allows the fewest goals per game in the regular season. In 205 career AHL games, Copley has a 108-65-23 record with 14 shutouts and a 2.56 goals-against average and .910 save percentage. The North Pole, Alaska native appeared in 27 games with Washington in 2018-19, posting a 16-7-3 record with one shutout and a 2.90 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage. In 29 career NHL games with the Capitals and the St. Louis Blues, Copley has a 16-8-3 record with a 2.98 goals-against average and .901 save percentage.
Kempny, 31, has recorded seven assists in 24 games with Hershey this season. Kempny, who missed the 2020-21 season due to injury, recorded 18 points (3g, 15a) and a team-high +19 plus/minus rating in 58 games with Washington in 2019-20. In 232 career NHL games with the Capitals and the Chicago Blackhawks, Kempny has recorded 61 points (14g, 47a). Additionally, the Hodonin, Czech Republic native has appeared in 30 career playoff games, including all 24 of the Capitals’ postseason contests in 2018, where he recorded five points (2g, 3a).
Johansen, 24, has recorded seven points (3g, 4a) and a team-high +14 plus/minus rating in 22 games with Hershey this season. The Vancouver, British Columbia native is on pace to record 23 points this season, which would mark his highest single-season total since 2017-18 (6g-21a-27p in 74 games played). In 155 career games with Hershey, Johansen has recorded 52 points (12g, 40a). Johansen was selected with the Capitals’ first-round pick, 28th overall, in the 2016 NHL Draft.
Alexeyev, the Capitals’ first-round pick, 31st overall, in the 2018 NHL Draft, has recorded four points (1g, 3a) in 24 games with Hershey this season. Along with Kempny, Alexeyev is one of two skaters to play in all 24 of Hershey’s games this season. Alexeyev began the 2020-21 season on loan to Salavat Yulaev Ufa of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). The St. Petersburg, Russia native appeared in 55 of Salavat Yulaev’s 60 regular season games, tied for the most among the team’s defensemen. Alexeyev’s 16 points (8g, 8a) ranked second among Salavat Yulaev defensemen and his 17:52 time on ice per game ranked third. Alexeyev was named the KHL’s Rookie of the Month for January after recording seven points (4g, 3a) and a +6 plus/minus rating in 11 games. Additionally, Alexeyev recorded one assist and led the team with 23 blocked shots in nine playoff games. Alexeyev finished the 2020-21 season with Hershey, recording nine points (2g, 7a) in 12 games, ranking tied for third on the team in plus/minus (11) and fifth in points per game (0.75).
Leason, 22, made his NHL debut on Oct. 29 against the Arizona Coyotes and has recorded six points (3g, 3a) in 22 games with the Capitals this season. In addition, Leason has one goal in five games with Hershey. The Calgary, Alberta, native recorded 20 points (9g, 11a) in 33 games during the 2020-21 season with Hershey, including 13 points (5g, 8a) in his final 15 games. Leason surpassed his rookie point total of 14 (3g, 11a) set in 2019-20 in 17 fewer games in 2020-21, while also tripling his goal total. Leason ranked fourth on Hershey in goals and points and second in shots (74). Additionally, Leason was one of five skaters to appear in all 33 of Hershey’s games and was the only Hershey player to record a power play goal (1), a shorthanded goal (1) and a game-winning goal (2). The Capitals selected Leason with their second-round pick, 56th overall, in the 2019 NHL Draft.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.