The Washington Capitals held practice on New Year’s Day and saw the return of five players, who technically remain in COVID-19 protocol.
Dennis Cholowski, Nick Jensen, Justin Schultz, Daniel Sprong, and Vitek Vanecek all took part in the skate, according to the Caps’ Mike Vogel.
Meanwhile, there were a lot of players missing for various reasons.
Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette was unsure who of the five could play against the New Jersey Devils on Sunday. Puck drop at Capital One Arena is at 3 PM.
“We’re working through that in the room to see how they feel right now and where they’re at,” Laviolette said. “The whole thing about going in(to protocol), not everybody goes in with the same symptoms and is at the same level. They deal with different stuff while they’re in protocol. Some of it is not that bad. Some of it is a little bit more. You have to access all that and see where they’re at conditioning-wise and mental wise and make decisions from there. Yes, we could possibly (see them play Sunday) but we’ll talk to them and see how they are in the morning.”
Alex Ovechkin, who became the NHL’s greatest power-play goal scorer of all time the night before, took a maintenance day along with Evgeny Kuznetsov and John Carlson.
“It was just maintenance – it’s not protocol or anything,” Laviolette said. “It’s a tricky day. It would have been a day off probably but with a 3 PM game and the no pregame skate and playing the night before and trying to get the guys moving, that 3 PM was a tricky time frame. At the end of the day, their minutes and just making sure they are as fresh as they can be. They were inside the room here getting done what they needed to get done. I just didn’t think they needed to be out there today.”
Meanwhile, Martin Fehervary (COVID-19), Lars Eller (illness), and Matt Irwin (personal day) all missed the skate.
The Capitals took line rushes and they looked like this.
Lines at practice (keeping in mind there's a lot of guys out today):
— JJ Regan (@JJReganNBCS) January 1, 2022
After Sunday’s matinee against the Devils, the Capitals will be off for four consecutive days before having back-to-back road games over the weekend.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB