The Washington Capitals took the ice for another day of Training Camp on Tuesday and got in some special teams’ work for the first time in the preseason. Notable omissions due to injury were Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson.
Specifically, in the case of Backstrom, that means a spot has opened up on the first unit. Offseason addition Dylan Strome got the first crack at trying to fill it.
The legendary Swedish centerman is the all-time franchise leader in power play assists (330) and is second all-time only to Ovechkin in overall power-play points (410).
Here is how the two power play groups shook out via NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti.
First unit: Alex Ovechkin, John Carlson, TJ Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dylan Strome
Second unit: Dmitry Orlov, Erik Gustafsson, Connor Brown, Anthony Mantha, Marcus Johansson
The 25-year-old Strome lined up down low where Evgeny Kuznetsov normally does when Backstrom is healthy. He mentioned in his first Training Camp media session that he has experience playing there in the past.
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“I played mostly down low like in front of the net (in Chicago),” Strome said. “Little bit on the bumper. For the second half of the year, I was mostly netfront and on the goal line there.”
In his four seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, Strome tallied 43 points on the power play. That total left him behind only Patrick Kane (106) and Alex DeBrincat (86) in team leaders over that timespan.
One of the constants on the Caps’ man advantage unit is TJ Oshie in the bumper position. Since arriving in DC for the 2015-16 season, only Ovi (109) has scored more power-play goals than Osh (60).
“Well, Stromer is in there so that’s going to give us a different look automatically,” Oshie said Tuesday. “Anytime you throw someone else in there, they think a little bit different, their positioning is a little bit different. I’m sure there are going to be some different things. For the most part, our system is set and you can kind of move people in and out. A lot of it depends on how they’re going to cover Ovi like it every night.”
The Capitals’ power play dropped down six whole percentage points from 24.8-percent effectiveness in 2020-21 to just 18.8-percent in 2021-22. Head coach Peter Laviolette could rely on Strome to try and right that ship a little in 2022-23.
“Today was the first day with the power play,” Laviolette said. “[Strome] is a big guy, left-hand shot, good around the net, has a good shot, can make plays, big body. It was day one, we’re looking at him in that position right now. But again, things can change, too.”
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