Friday, the Washington Capitals hit the practice ice at MedStar Capitals Iceplex for the first time since they secured a big two points at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Caps are preparing for back-to-back afternoon games this weekend against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins.
Before practice, the team told The Washington Post’s Samantha Pell that forward Conor Sheary would miss the skate with a non-COVID illness. Meanwhile, forward Garnet Hathaway returns from an identical situation that saw him miss the game against the Lightning.
Head coach Peter Laviolette had his team line up the exact same way they did against Tampa Bay in the victory, bar Sheary being swapped out for Hathaway on the first line. Here is how that looked via Pell.
If it turns out Sheary cannot go against his former team on Saturday afternoon, Hathaway won’t exactly be uncomfortable riding shotgun next to Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. That trio has played over 45 minutes together at five-on-five this season. The results are mixed as the Caps have a 49-percent shot attempt for percentage, a 52.3-percent expected goals for percentage, a 47.6-percent scoring chance for percentage, and a 44-percent high danger chance for percentage with them on the ice.
At the very least it will allow Laviolette the ability to keep together the bulk of the forward grouping that thoroughly outplayed the Lightning. The only Caps line in that game that had a sub-50-percent expected goals for percentage was the first line that had featured Sheary (47.3-percent).
Saturday’s opponent is the Pens who will come into the game losers of three in a row. Per The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir, they are also dealing with an illness that has spread throughout their locker room. Sidney Crosby, John Marino, and Radim Zohorna all missed their game against the New York Rangers on Thursday.
“I believe (it’s) everywhere,” Laviolette told El-Bashir about the bug going around. “Now what you’re hearing the most is the non-Covid illness. That seems to be what’s getting teams right now. So there’s something out there.”
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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