The Washington Capitals will wrap up the longest homestand of their season against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday. The Caps will look to bounce back from a tough, rivalry night loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins in their last time out at Capital One Arena.
With many on the team’s roster still ailing and unavailable, including head coach Peter Laviolette, the Caps did get some good news at Friday’s morning skate. Defenseman John Carlson was a full, regular participant in line rushes.
Here is how the whole team looked at the skate via The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir.
#Cap lines ahead of TBL:
So it looks like Carlson returns, while Orlov + Oshie are still out. And Alexeyev, McMichael + Snively are scratches.
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) November 11, 2022
Carlson, officially a game-time decision against Tampa Bay according to El-Bashir, is set to return from a lower-body injury that he suffered on October 29 against the Nashville Predators. He has six points in nine games this season.
“I feel really good now,” Carlson said after the skate. “Just trying to make sure I’m doing the right things on the path back.”
With Carlson looking like he’s back after missing six games, rookie defenseman Alex Alexeyev exits the lineup after making his season debut against the Pens. The team will also need to make a corresponding roster move once Carlson is removed from the injured reserve. As NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti points out, that move will likely just be placing Dmitry Orlov, who skated again on Friday, on the injured reserve retroactively to his injury which means he’d still be available as early as Sunday.
NBC Sports Washington’s Matt Weyrich reports that Carlson also practiced with the top power-play unit at the skate. That means Erik Gustafsson, who had been manning the point with Carlson out, has been demoted back to the second unit. The Caps have jumped into the top ten in power play efficiency with strong performances in recent games, converting at 25 percent on the season.
Weyrich also reports that goaltender Darcy Kuemper was first off the ice and will be right back in the Caps’ net after a rough last start. Against the Pens, Kuemper stopped 24 of 27 shots and was on the wrong end of a whole lot of bad puck luck.
The Lightning started off their season by losing three of their first four games but have righted the ship a little bit since. They’ll come into Friday night’s action sporting a 7-5-1 record which has them fifth in the NHL’s Atlantic Division.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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