As the injuries pile up, the Washington Capitals are switching some things up and have call-ups who made the trip, but trusting in the process as they take on the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday.
While Sonny Milano, Garrett Pilon and Lucas Johansen are waiting for their chance to make an impact and help fill the void of Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson, T.J. Oshie, Connor Brown, Carl Hagelin, Beck Malenstyn and John Carlson, they will have to wait. Washington, fresh off back-to-back OT losses and seven players on the IR/LTIR, will dress its opening night roster players against the Red Wings, who have dropped three of their last four games and are coming off an 8-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Monday.
The lines will also get a tweak, as Conor Sheary moves back to the top line to operate with the reunited Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov duo. Anthony Mantha will take T.J. Oshie’s spot on the second line RW, and Connor McMichael and Joe Snively will play left wing on the third and fourth lines respectively.
Here are what the lines looked like at morning skate, per The Washington Post’s Samantha Pell:
Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Conor Sheary
Marcus Johansson-Dylan Strome-Anthony Mantha
Connor McMichael-Lars Eller-Aliaksei Protas
Joe Snively-Nic Dowd-Garnet Hathaway
Dmitry Orlov-Trevor van Riemsdyk
Martin Fehervary-Nick Jensen
Erik Gustafsson-Matt Irwin
Milano, Pilon and Johansen are the healthy scratches. Darcy Kuemper was the first off the ice and will get the start. He stopped 33 of 35 shots in a stellar outing against the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday. Charlie Lindgren, who stopped 28 of 31 against the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday, will back up.
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When it comes to names to watch, look out for Alex Ovechkin, who is on a three-game point streak and broke the NHL’s all-time PPG record in Detroit last season. He is also one goal away from tying Gordie Howe for the most goals with one team in NHL history, and he has a chance to hit that milestone against Howe’s old team.
Sheary has also been on the ice for the most even-strength goals this season and continues to make an impact. Dylan Strome is coming off a two-assist performance against Vegas and leads Washington in helpers so far, so look for him to make noise. Erik Gustafsson has also generated quite a few high-quality chances of late.
On the Detroit side of the matchup, Dylan Larkin leads the Wings with 11 points in nine games and has six points in his last four outings. Also look out for Dominik Kubalik, who’s always dangerous and is tied for Larkin for the team lead in scoring. David Perron is also tied with Larkin for the team lead in goals (5).