The Washington Capitals jumped on the ice for practice in California a day before they’re set to take on the San Jose Sharks. As the clock approached 3 PM (EST) for the NHL trade deadline, all of the team’s pending unrestricted free agents were on the ice skating with the team.
The same could not be said when it comes to players missing due to injury. The entire defense corps that played against the Ducks on Wednesday has been shifted around. New addition Rasmus Sandin took reps on the team’s first pairing and both Martin Fehervary and Nick Jensen sat out after getting dinged in Anaheim.
Here is how all of that shook out via The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir.
#Caps practice lines:
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) March 3, 2023
El-Bashir added that Sandin’s visa issues, which kept him out of the lineup in Anaheim, have been resolved. He’s set to make his Capitals debut against the Sharks skating to the left of Trevor van Riemsdyk on the top pairing.
In 52 games with Toronto, Sandin has a 54.9 percent shot attempt percentage, a 58.6 percent expected goals for percentage, a 59.5 percent scoring chance for percentage, and a 59.9 percent high-danger chance for percentage.
TVR, an upcoming unrestricted free agent, received some assurance earlier in the day that the Caps would not be moving him before the 3 pm ET deadline. Due to the injuries to Fehervary and Jensen, TVR is coming off his highest total ice time played in one game for the Caps (25:57).
The second pairing features Alex Alexeyev and Matt Irwin. Alexeyev was incredibly impressive against the Ducks after sitting out for over a month as a healthy scratch. He also took on an extensive workload of 24:46 of ice time and with him on the ice at five-on-five, the Caps saw positive differentials in shot attempts (+3), scoring chances (+5), and high-danger chances (+3).
“Even though we lost some defenseman, I thought some of our d-man who jumped in there did a really good job,” head coach Peter Laviolette said postgame. “Alexeyev had a really good game for us, really strong. After not playing for a little bit, he came in and gave us good minutes. That was really good.”
That sort of “jumping in” by other defensemen will have to continue against the Sharks as the new third pairing is made up entirely of recent Hershey recalls that have not played a single game in the NHL this season. It will see 2021 second-round draft selection Vincent Iorio line up next to Gabriel Carlsson.
Both players were plucked from Hershey on Friday and Dylan McIlrath was sent the other way. If Iorio is to truly stick in the lineup against San Jose, it will be his NHL debut.
The Sharks will come into Saturday afternoon’s action losers of four in a row and tied for last in the Pacific Division with the Ducks. The Caps didn’t make much headway with their win on Wednesday as they still sit four points back of the New York Islanders for fifth in the Metro.
Screenshot via @Capitals/Twitter
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