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Capitals Notebook: Kuznetsov, Backstrom Return; Kempny Back In Mix

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The Washington Capitals are seeing a new-look Kuznetsov entering 2021-22.

The Washington Capitals got some welcome and unwelcome news as they returned to the ice for the first time since the COVID-19 pause on Wednesday.

After being on COVID-19 protocol, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom rejoined the team. However, six more players entered protocol: Daniel Sprong, Justin Schultz, Nick Jensen, Martin Fehervary, Dennis Cholowski and Vitek Vanecek. T.J. Oshie was not listed among the six unavailable due to protocol, but he was not on the ice for practice on Monday. No players have been activated from COVID-19 protocol as of now.

With more players out, Washington made some roster moves, recalling Michal Kempny and Pheonix Copley from Hershey. It is the first time that both players are up with the team this season, and both got into action right away on Monday.

Copley shared the crease with Ilya Samsonov. Meanwhile, Kempny jumped in on the second defensive pairing with Trevor van Riemsdyk.

This marks Kempny’s first time back in D..C since training camp. Kempny had ultimately been sent down to Hershey at the start of the season so that he could return to full speed and continue rehabbing from multiple left-leg injuries.

The Capitals also reintroduced their taxi squad, re-assigning forward Brett Leason and defensemen Alex Alexeyev to the taxi squad. The NHL and NHLPA announced on Monday that they would bring back taxi squads with COVID-19 cases rising.

READ MORE ON WHN: Capitals Place Six On COVID-19 Protocol, Make More Moves

With Washington’s situation in flux, the lines at Monday’s skate were interesting. Tom Wilson, who joined the team for its last morning skate in Philadelphia before the pause, was at full-go and in a regular red jersey while skating on the top line.

Ultimately, the forward lines looked nearly complete, while the blue line, which remained intact for the first part of the season, saw several changes due to the outbreak. Here’s what the rushes looked like on Monday:

Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Tom Wilson

Conor Sheary-Nicklas Backstrom-Garnet Hathaway

Connor McMichael-Lars Eller-Aliaksei Protas

Carl Hagelin-Nic Dowd-Brett Leason

Mike Sgarbossa

Dmitry Orlov-John Carlson

Michal Kempny-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Alex Alexeyev-Matt Irwin

Lucas Johansen

Ilya Samsonov/Pheonix Copley

Washington was originally supposed to return to game action on Monday against the Ottawa Senators. However, the NHL delayed its return-to-play date and postponed that matchup. The next game on the Capitals’ schedule is a Wednesday night tilt with the Nashville Predators, which was one of the first teams to shut down due to COVID-19.

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