The Washington Capitals are set to do battle with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night as the team looks to bounce back from two consecutive big losses on home ice.
Head coach Peter Laviolette has been heavily tinkering with his lines the last two days at practice but the only confirmed lineup news we got at the team’s optional morning skate is that Ilya Samsonov will start in net.
It will be Sammy’s first start since March 25 his fifth overall since March 1.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) April 6, 2022
“I’m looking for somebody to push forward out of that two-team tandem and be the guy that grabs the crease and keeps it,” Laviolette said of his goaltending situation after Monday’s practice. “I think it’s important. I’d like to have a guy that has emerged and moved forward from that group. They’re both good goaltenders but you want someone to really take hold of it. There’s an opportunity for them down the stretch here.”
Since the trade deadline, Vitek Vanecek has a 1-3 record with a 4.45 goals-against average and a .862 save percentage. Laviolette will give Samsonov another shot despite the Russian netminder’s own recent shoddy play. In his four March starts, Samsonov was just 2-2 with a 3.13 goals-against average and a .876 save percentage. His full-season stats aren’t much better as he sports a 2.95 goals-against average and .899 save percentage in 36 appearances.
“We’ve got games down the stretch for a push for somebody to make a case,” Laviolette said. “They’ll probably both continue to get games.”
As for the rest of his lineup, the veteran bench boss played coy.
“Definitely working through things in the room right now,” Laviolette said.
The Caps ran two different forward groups at practice the past two days. Here is how they looked on Tuesday per The Washington Post’s Samantha Pell.
Pell adds in her reporting from today’s morning skate that Connor McMichael did not stick around for extra work while Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, Michal Kempny, and Matt Irwin did. That usually indicates that a player is in line to play in that night’s game. It would be a welcomed return to the lineup for McMichael after he was a healthy scratch against the Minnesota Wild.
As for the current status of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the back-to-back champions, just like the Caps, are looking for a much-needed victory. Tampa has lost two games in a row and over the last 10, have a slightly worse record (5-4-1) than the Caps (6-4-0).
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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