The Washington Capitals will look to quickly bounce back from having their season-long five-game winning streak halted by the Dallas Stars on Thursday. They’ll try to take down a Toronto Maple Leafs team that has won eight of their last 10 games.
At their Saturday morning skate, the Caps saw the return of a few recently absent players who had been out of the lineup due to injury or illness.
Here is how head coach Peter Laviolette organized his squad for line rushes via The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir.
#Caps lines/pairs/goalies ahead of TOR:
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) December 17, 2022
The most notable inclusion comes in the form of left wing Sonny Milano. Milano missed the loss to the Stars due to a non-COVID illness and it appears that the one-game absence will be the extent of his time away. In 19 games for the Caps this season, Milano has recorded 11 points (3g, 8a).
Joining Milano and the rest of their teammates on the ice were Martin Fehervary and Beck Malenstyn. Both players donned dark blue non-contact jerseys in their first full practices back with the team.
“I think he’s been out (skating) in the morning,” Laviolette said Friday about Fehervary. “He’s by himself. He’s working himself into things. I don’t believe he’s out here with the group yet, no. He’s not here but he’s on the ice and progressing.”
Fehervary has not played since taking a hit from Milan Lucic in a game against the Calgary Flames on December 3. Malenstyn has been out longer as he broke his finger blocking a shot against the Vegas Golden Knights on November 1.
“It’s just been a day or two since he’s been out here and mixing in a little bit,” Laviolette continued on Malenstyn. “He’s able to do more so it’s nice to see and get him out here.”
And Fehervary out there now in a no-contact jersey! pic.twitter.com/moxGgXPYM6
— Katie (@That_WriterGirl) December 17, 2022
Saturday’s skate also saw an exciting update for Nicklas Backstrom as the Caps legend shed the non-contact jersey he had been doing all of his on-ice work in, in favor of a regular white practice sweater. The Caps told El-Bashir that the playmaking pivot is still “a ways away” from any sort of game action but it’s still encouraging progress nonetheless.
The Washington Post’s Samantha Pell reports that Charlie Lindgren will once again be the chosen starter in the Caps’ net on Saturday. Lindgren is 5-2 in the month of December with a 2.06 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage. He was the NHL’s First Star of the Week for the week ending on December 11.
Toronto will come into the action after having a winning streak of their own snapped by the New York Rangers on Thursday. Forward Mitch Marner’s 23-game, franchise-record-setting point streak was also put to an end in that game.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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