The Washington Capitals will enter play against the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday losers of two-straight games in overtime. They’ll also do so without several regular roster members as the team navigates its latest injury crisis.
Oft healthy scratched forwards Connor McMichael and Joe Snively took line rushes with the team at the morning skate in Detroit and look primed for a rare appearance in the same game. The Washington Post’s Samantha Pell provided the team’s updated lines.
Snively will get the start on the team’s vital checking line. Beck Malenstyn exited Tuesday night’s contest against the Vegas Golden Knights with an upper-body injury he received due to a shot block. It will be the former Little Cap’s second game of the season playing with Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway.
They had moderate success as a trio against the Los Angeles Kings in late October, recording positive five-on-five differentials in shot attempts (plus-3), scoring chances (plus-1), and high-danger chances (plus-1) in 8:33 of ice time.
McMichael jumps back into the lineup after seeing less than seven minutes of total ice time against the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday and then being a healthy scratch again against Vegas. Thursday will be his third game of the season and he’ll be reunited with Lars Eller on the team’s third line. The two have played over 227 minutes together at five-on-five since McMichael made his NHL debut.
“I think Mikey has just gotta continue to play and look to create,” head coach Peter Laviolette said pregame. “He gets those opportunities, it’s five-on-five. It’s not on the power play or the penalty kill at this point. Just continue to look to push the game offensively and be good defensively.”
After placing TJ Oshie (lower body), John Carlson (lower body), and Beck Malenstyn (upper body) all on injured reserve and Connor Brown (knee) on long-term injured reserve, the team made three recalls from the Hershey Bears on Wednesday. Sonny Milano, Garrett Pilon, and Lucas Johansen were those recalls and made the trip to Detroit but they will be the extra skaters for the game.
“Right now they’re just part of the roster,” Laviolette said. “We decided to go with the guys that have been here. The start of the year didn’t go exactly the way we want. We’re 5-2-2 in our last nine games. We’ve had a group here so tonight we’re going to continue to go with these guys. Call up some players, they can get acclimated here as they settle in a little bit. We made the decision to just go with the guys that we had here already.”
Carlson’s continued absence has created quite the opportunity for Trevor van Riemsdyk as he continues his de facto first pairing assignment next to Dmitry Orlov. TVR played over 20 minutes in a game for the first time this season against Vegas and for only the 19th time since arriving in DC for the 2020-21 campaign.
Pell also provided an update on how the team’s power-play units have changed due to the recent rash of injuries. The two five-man groups will look like this.
PP1: Ovechkin, Gustafsson, Strome, Johansson, Kuznetsov
PP2: Orlov, Snively, Mantha, Sheary, Eller
Erik Gustafsson and Evgeny Kuznetsov have jumped onto the top unit. The two talented offensive players assisted on Alex Ovechkin’s power-play strike in Raleigh. They replace Dmitry Orlov and Conor Sheary who move to the second unit.
“I think that first power-play unit has been good granted we had to make some changes due to injury,” Laviolette said. “For the most part, it’s been pretty good. It’s been producing for us.”
Pell also reports that Darcy Kuemper was the first netminder off of the ice at the skate. Kuemper finished October with three-straight dominant performances that help him now sit sixth among starters in MoneyPuck’s goals saved above expected (6.2).
The Red Wings will enter the fray after a handful of days off as they last played on Halloween against the Buffalo Sabres. Buffalo’s Tage Thompson had a six-point night in the 8-3 blowout of the Wings.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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