The Washington Capitals are up in New York to close out the 2021-22 regular season, and it looks like they’ll have to continue to make do without captain Alex Ovechkin.
Ovechkin took the ice for the Capitals’ morning skate but will not play against New York, per head coach Peter Laviolette. In the meantime, with the Great 8 not yet ready, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby will draw back in for Washington for the first time in a month.
Jonsson-Fjallby was taking rushes on the third line with Lars Eller and Anthony Mantha, as T.J. Oshie shifted up to the top line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Conor Sheary with Ovechkin out. Tom Wilson, meanwhile, is operating on the second line with Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson. The fourth line and defensive pairs stayed the same.
Connor McMichael, who got an opportunity on the top line on Tuesday, appears to be the odd man out again. He skated just under 11 minutes in the Capitals’ Tuesday loss, managing two shots.
Here are what the combinations looked like on the Island, per The Washington Post’s Samantha Pell:
Conor Sheary-Evgeny Kuznetsov-T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson-Nicklas Backstrom-Tom Wilson
Anthony Mantha-Lars Eller-Axel Jonsson-Fjallby
Johan Larsson-Nic Dowd-Garnet Hathaway
Martin Fehervary-John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov-Nick Jensen
Trevor van Riemsdyk-Justin Schultz
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Vitek Vanecek was the first off the ice, per Pell. He will likely get the start as the goalie race comes down to the wire between him and Ilya Samsonov.
When it comes to players to watch, keep an eye on Sheary and Johansson. Sheary has points in three straight games and is one goal away from his second career 20-goal campaign. Johansson, meanwhile, has points in five of his last six games. Also look out for Jonsson-Fjallby, who will skate in his first game since March 28 and has a chance to show he belongs in an NHL lineup.
On the Islanders side of the matchup, watch for Noah Dobson, who struck last game against Washington and has points in four of his last five games. Also keep an eye on Casey Cizikas, who struck shorthanded on Tuesday and has points in back-to-back games.