The Washington Capitals will take on the Ottawa Senators, Saturday night. They will do so with a defense that likely does not include Nick Jensen.
Jensen suffered an upper-body injury late in Thursday’s loss to the Boston Bruins. According to The Washington Post’s Samantha Pell, he took the ice this morning but left before the official skate began.
This is how the Caps and their makeshift defense lined up, via Pell.
Conor Sheary will take the ice for the first time in twelve games. Before ending up out due to COVID-19, Sheary had four points in his last four games which included a two-goal performance against the Bruins. Martin Fehervary will once again skate with a different partner in Justin Schultz on the top pairing as John Carlson remains out due to COVID protocol, Dmitry Orlov serves the last game of his suspension, and Jensen misses out through injury. TJ Oshie will miss out due to his injured reserve designation and Daniel Sprong looks to be a healthy scratch for a second straight game.
Jensen is the Capitals rock on the backend. He plays the third-most minutes per game among their regular defensemen (20:00) and is heavily relied on with Orlov for defensive zone shutdown responsibilities. Only the line of Nic Dowd, Carl Hagelin, and Garnet Hathaway have more defensive zone shift starts this season at five-on-five than Jensen does (98). He only starts his shifts in the offensive zone 36.8-percent of the time.
In those minutes at five-on-five with Jensen on the ice, the Capitals see 52-percent of the shot attempts, 50.9-percent of the expected goals, and almost a dead-even split in scoring chances which is good given the zone start context earlier. He has 11 points in 39 games this season.
Pell also reports that Vitek Vanecek was once again the first goaltender off of the ice at the skate. Vitek is set to make his fourth start in the last five games as head coach Peter Laviolette labeled this stretch of play Vanecek’s chance to “grab the reins” of the goaltending situation.
The Capitals have lost six of their last eight and will look to beat the annual cellar-dwelling Senators to try and turn that around. The Senators come into Saturday night’s action on a two-game losing streak and have half the wins (11) on the season than the Capitals do.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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