The Washington Capitals took their morning skate Tuesday before a Metropolitan Division matchup with the Columbus Blue Jackets at Capital One Arena.
Pheonix Copley was the first goaltender off of the ice and will make his first NHL start for the Capitals since April 6, 2019. Copley will get the start over Ilya Samsonov.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 8, 2022
Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette told the Washington Post’s Samantha Pell that since Samsonov hasn’t played in about a week and missed Monday’s practice due to being caught up in COVID testing, he will be the backup. Copley relieved Samsonov (three goals on four shots) against the Oilers on February 2, stopping 21 of 22 shots he faced.
“I thought he came out there and did a really good job for us,” Laviolette said of Copley. “He played really well.”
The North Pole, Alaska native will be the fourth starting goaltender of the season for the Caps as they continue to struggle to find consistency in net and rumors swirl that they’re interested in acquiring Marc-Andre Fleury at the trade deadline.
“Every time I get a chance out there I want to prove that I’m capable of playing a lot of games and I’m capable of sticking in this league,” Copley told the media after Monday’s practice. “Unfortunately for two, almost three years it didn’t happen. Now I got the chance and my goal is to keep proving that I can play at this level.”
Copley is up on the big league roster due to an upper-body injury Vitek Vanecek suffered against the Penguins on February 1. Pell reports that the young netminder has been officially placed on injured reserve.
Present and in full participation at the morning skate was Alex Ovechkin who was cleared from COVID protocol earlier in the day.
Ovechkin returned to his normal spot atop the first line on the left wing and the rest of the team looked like this via Pell.
Aliaksei Protas, Brett Leason, Matt Irwin, Michal Kempny, and Dennis Cholowski appear to be the healthy scratches against Columbus. In Kempny’s case, he is still working himself back from COVID protocol.
The top line of Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, and Sheary has played 32:46 of five-on-five ice time together so far this season and that small sample hasn’t exactly been the prettiest in the world. The Capitals have been out-shot 21 to 15, out-scoring chanced 18 to 10, and out-high danger chanced 8 to 3 with that trio on the ice during those minutes.
The Blue Jackets will come into the action sporting a 20-22-1 record that sees them fifth in the division and out of a playoff spot. Right before the All-Star break, they were the recipients of an eight-goal beatdown by the Florida Panthers.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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