Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin missed the final three games of the regular season with an upper-body injury that he sustained on April 24 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Great Eight skated at a couple of practices during his time out of the lineup but was still deemed unavailable for the games by head coach Peter Laviolette.
According to The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir, it sure looks like Ovi is back as he was a full participant at Sunday’s practice and back in his usual top-line, left-wing role.
— x – Washington Capitals (@Capitals) May 1, 2022
With both Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom back and looking ready to go after missing the season finale in New York, the Caps’ forward group and defense pairs looked like this via Ben Raby of Capitals Radio.
Connor McMichael and Axel Jonsson-Fjallby are back slated to be healthy scratches as the legendary duo of Ovi and Nicke return to their usual top-six positions. It appears Laviolette will go back to a first line of Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Conor Sheary that has not had a ton of success this season when lined up with one another.
In over 167 minutes of five-on-five ice time, the Caps have seen just 47.8-percent of the shot attempts, 46.8-percent of the expected goals, 46.1-percent of the scoring chances, and 42.8-percent of the high danger chances with them out there. They also hold a minus-four five-on-five goal differential compared to a plus-eleven one when Tom Wilson rides to the right of Kuznetsov.
The Caps had three goaltenders on the ice at practice as the arrival of Zach Fucale from Hershey was announced shortly before the skate began Sunday morning. Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek ended up with an identical amount of starts this season with 39 apiece although Samsonov received eight in the final month of the regular season compared to Vanecek’s six. That may indicate he has the leg up on the competition for Game One starter in Florida.
Round One begins for the Caps on Tuesday at 7:30 PM inside of FLA Live Arena. It will be the first time they start on the road in the playoffs since 2012 when they took on the defending Cup champion Boston Bruins.
Headline photo courtesy of @pennybacker