The Washington Capitals have headed west as they continue their first long road spell of the season. Thursday night will see them take on the Dallas Stars in a Lone Star State slugfest.
The Caps took the ice for their morning skate inside American Airlines Center and still atop the right side of their lineup was current leading goal scorer Conor Sheary. Head coach Peter Laviolette was quite complimentary of the diminutive winger after practice on Wednesday.
Here is how the team fully lined up via reporting from the Washington Post’s Samantha Pell.
“He’s been excellent,” Laviolette said of his first-line right wing. “It’s hard not to like Conor Sheary. He works hard every day. He competes every game. He’s good defensively, he’s scored big goals. Right now he’s on the top line but I started him on the Dowd line and so we used him as a checker on the checking line. He changed positions, he was left wing now he’s right wing. He’s just a guy who is really useful inside your lineup and it’s the way he plays the game and competes that I think draws everybody in.”
In over 327 five-on-five minutes with Alex Ovechkin and Sheary on the ice together since 2020-21, the Caps have been outscored 22 to 17 and seem to bleed high-danger chances (45.3 HDCF%). Things do seem to be going better this season though in the smaller 36-minute sample size. With the two on the ice, the Caps are seeing 52.9-percent of the shot attempts, 52-percent of the expected goals, 51.3-percent of the scoring chances, and only hold a minus-one high-danger chance differential.
Another player sticking in a key spot in the lineup is Beck Malenstyn. The 24-year-old winger made his season debut against the Devils on Monday and impressed Laviolette on the team’s main checking line.
“It is almost like that role is built for him,” Laviolette said. “That is his game. He’s a checker, he’s a defender, and he can chip in offensively. He did everything that we asked him to do.”
Malenstyn is up with the team due to the long-term injury to Connor Brown. He’ll get a jersey as Connor McMichael and Joe Snively take a seat in the stands yet again. Laviolette said Wednesday that there are no current plans on sending McMichael back to AHL Hershey to get regular game time.
“[Connor McMichael] is here,” Laviolette said. “He’s part of our 23 right now. Things always change when guys go into the lineup or somebody gets injured or decisions on the roster that need to be made. There haven’t been any conversations about that. Right now, we’ve got a roster going that we’re happy with.”
Darcy Kuemper will return to the ice as the team’s starting goaltender against Dallas. The 32-year-old netminder has had five days off since taking down the Los Angeles Kings last week. On the season, he is sporting a 3-2-0 record with a 3.04 goals-against average and a .899 save percentage.
Dallas comes into the game losers of their last two games and three of their last four. They are led by an absolutely lethal first line made up of Jason Robertson, Joe Pavelski, and Roope Hintz. All three forwards have seven points in seven games to begin the season. To put that in perspective, no Capitals forward is averaging a point per game.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.