The Washington Capitals continue their five-game road trip tonight in Sin City and it’s a big one. With a win against the Golden Knights, the Capitals would pass the Penguins for third in the division and get out of the dreaded second wild card spot.
Head coach Peter Laviolette fiddled with his forward lines once again during the morning skate. Tom Wilson was reunited with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov on the team’s top line. That change has shuffled TJ Oshie to the third line.
The rest of the Caps took the ice the same way they did against the Colorado Avalanche in their 3-2 victory on Monday. Here is how that looks via The Washington Post’s Samantha Pell.
The Caps have gotten mixed results this season from the Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, and Wilson top line, which was also the team’s top line when it beat VGK during the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. At five-on-five with the trio on the ice, the team sees just 49.5-percent of the shot attempts, 47.9-percent of the expected goals, 48.9-percent of the scoring chances, and 46.3-percent of the high danger chances. But, they have out-scored teams 27 to 16. So while the trio struggles to own the puck, the line’s sheer offensive talent and overall chemistry can outperform some defensive shortcomings.
The new third line of Oshie, Lars Eller, and Anthony Mantha has not played any meaningful five-on-five ice time together this season. The second line consisting of Marcus Johansson, Nicklas Backstrom, and Conor Sheary ended up being easily the team’s best unit against the Avs. Johansson scored the clutch game-winning marker off an excellent steal and feed from Sheary. With them out there, the Caps saw 72.2-percent of the shot attempts and held a plus-three scoring chance differential.
According to Pell, Ilya Samsonov will once again be in net for the Caps. This will be Sammy’s third start on the road trip and his sixth in the last eight games overall. He was excellent in Colorado, stopping 24 of 26 shots in the victory.
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) April 20, 2022
Vegas will be a desperate team after their loss to the lowly New Jersey Devils on Monday sliced their playoff chances by 16-percent, according to MoneyPuck. They have lost two in a row and now sit five points behind the Los Angeles Kings for third in the Pacific Division and four points behind the Dallas Stars for the last Western Conference Wild Card spot.
Headline photo: Amanda Bowen/RMNB
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