The Washington Capitals have had to put their lineup into a blender again as a handful of players are out with injury or are unavailable due to COVID-19 protocol.
TJ Oshie, who missed Sunday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks, did not take the morning skate as he continues to recover from an upper-body injury. The same goes for Conor Sheary and John Carlson who remain out due to the aforementioned COVID protocol.
With those absences and the loss against Vancouver, Peter Laviolette has changed things up again with his lines. They are as follows via The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir.
Garnet Hathaway sees a promotion to top-line duty with Oshie out. Hathaway has practiced in that spot recently but rarely has seen the ice at five-on-five with Ovi and Kuzy this season (12:37).
Hathaway will play tonight despite a vicious elbow he delivered to Tyler Motte during Sunday’s game against the Canucks. Hathaway was given a two-minute minor for elbowing but did not receive any supplemental discipline from the NHL’s DoPS.
— Lachlan Irvine (@LachInTheCrease) January 16, 2022
The other major changes come on the backend where Nick Jensen will be reunited with Dmitry Orlov after he spent a game to the right of Martin Fehervary. That pushes Justin Schultz up the lineup and Dennis Cholowski will be the one to fill the void this time instead of Matt Irwin.
Cholowski’s last game came against the same Winnipeg Jets team that the Caps will square up with tonight. He had an assist and played 14:24 of total ice time in the December 17 game across the border.
El-Bashir also reports that Vitek Vanecek was the first goaltender off the ice at the skate so we should expect to see him in net tonight. Vanecek’s last start went very well as he blanked the New York Islanders, making 23 saves to earn his third career shutout.
“I thought Vitek was really good,” Laviolette said after Saturday’s game. “He’s had some good practice days, got back into a rhythm. It wasn’t real busy and sometimes those are the tougher games to stay into because the action is not as heavy. When we did need some saves I thought he was excellent, he looked focused to me and he looked like he was on point.”
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