With the All-Star break coming up, the Washington Capitals have re-assigned goaltender Pheonix Copley and defenseman Lucas Johansen to the AHL’s Hershey Bears.
This leaves no players on the taxi squad, which will go away for teams after the All-Star Break. The decision came with the modified COVID-19 protocol, which cuts back on “enhanced” measures and eliminates daily testing for fully vaccinated players.
Copley played in his first NHL game since 2019 on Thursday, putting on a strong performance in relief of Ilya Samsonov, who surrendered three goals through the first 5:07 minutes of play. The North Pole, Alaska native stopped 21 of 22 shots (.955 save percentage) in the eventual 5-3 loss to Edmonton.
He has also been solid with the Bears of late, boasting three wins and a .961 SV% over his last five starts. Through 22 games with Hershey this season, Copley is 12-7-3 with a 2.50 GAA and .906 SV%.
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Johansen, meanwhile, will look to continue a strong year down with Hershey. He made his NHL debut on Dec. 31, picking up his first NHL point off an assist on an Evgeny Kuznetsov strike against Detroit. The 24-year-old blueliner has three goals and 13 points through 31 games with the Bears this season.
Washington, meanwhile, is holding on to Joe Snively and Brett Leason, both of who had been on the taxi squad. Hunter Shepard, who was also on the taxi squad, headed back to Hershey on Wednesday.
The Capitals will return to the ice for an optional skate on Monday following the All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas. Washington will have two representatives out west at the festivities in Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson. Alex Ovechkin was originally set to represent D.C. at the ASG and wear the “C” for the Metropolitan Division, but he tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday and will not attend.