The Washington Capitals returned to practice on Sunday after losing their fourth game in a row and ninth of their last eleven against the Colorado Avalanche at home on Saturday. They do not play again until Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers.
That leaves plenty of time for head coach Peter Laviolette to tinker with his lineup and even more time for injured players like TJ Oshie and Dmitry Orlov to recuperate for potential returns. Both key veterans were full participants at practice and took regular line rushes.
Here is how that all shook out on Sunday morning via NBC Sports Washington’s Matt Weyrich.
First things first, you will notice that Connor McMichael is absent and that is because he was sent down to the AHL’s Hershey Bears earlier on Sunday. That gives the Caps the freedom to activate one of Oshie or Orlov from the injured reserve for that game against the Flyers.
Both players have been out for multiple weeks with respective lower-body injuries.
30 minutes in, Orlov and Oshie are taking a normal workload today’s practice, which has featured small ice scrimmages/battle drills. #Caps
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) November 20, 2022
If both were to be able to go against Philly, that would mean another player on the current roster needs to move. The most likely candidates for that move are Aliaksei Protas, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Joe Snively, Sonny Milano, or Alex Alexeyev. Protas and Milano simply because they are waiver-exempt and Snively and Alexeyev, while they would require waivers, seem to be the extra forward and defenseman on the roster.
Aube-Kubel was plucked off of waivers by the Caps and at this practice was filling in for Garnet Hathaway on the fourth line, who was absent for personal reasons according to Weyrich. That could indicate NAK being seen as superfluous to requirements. If he were to be the chosen one to go back on waivers, the Toronto Maple Leafs would be able to claim him right back.
Notably, Orlov’s return to regular work on one of the team’s defense pairings has led to Laviolette reuniting all of the pairings that the Caps started the season playing. That includes Martin Fehervary being put back with John Carlson.
In over 64 minutes together at five-on-five, the Caps have seen just 45.6-percent of the shot attempts, 33.6-percent of the expected goals, 40.7-percent of the scoring chances, and 30.8-percent of the high-danger chances with that pairing on the ice.
As stated previously, the Caps have now lost nine of their last eleven games (2-6-3). Their .425 points percentage ranks 25th in the NHL. They have played at least one more game than any other team in the Eastern Conference and are currently five points back of third in the Metropolitan Division (New York Islanders – 22 points) and five points back of the second Wild Card position (New York Rangers – 22 points).
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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