ARLINGTON, V.A. — The Washington Capitals saw some changes at practice on Sunday, with the forward lines seeing quite a few tweaks.
Nic Dowd didn’t practice and is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. In his place, Lars Eller filled in as the pivot on that fourth line with Garnet Hathaway and Carl Hagelin.
Eller said he doesn’t know if the combinations will be the same for the Capitals’ Monday tilt with the Senators, but said he’s prepared to adapt.
“You just got to adjust to the situation and get the best out of it,” Eller said. “It’s a little bit new for everyone, so I just have to always be able to adjust. That’s the name of the game.”
Head coach Peter Laviolette said last week he doesn’t place a lot of emphasis on the number/order of the lines — in fact, he said he “feels guilty” calling Dowd’s line the fourth line — and that it’s more so which players have chemistry.
Eller looked solid out there, providing speed to a quick, physical line that also relies on a strong centerman to win draws.
With that change, Connor McMichael swapped with Eller and took his place on the *technical* top-6 with T.J. Oshie and Anthony Mantha, who moved up in place of Conor Sheary. Sheary skated alongside Lapierre and Daniel Sprong on the third line.
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Lapierre played the first two games of the season with Sheary and Oshie but has been a healthy scratch for three straight with McMichael getting his chance at game action. Both put on solid performances, with Lapierre netting his first NHL goal and McMichael providing speed while generating several scoring chances.
Meanwhile, the defense pairings stayed the same, considering the blue line has found synergy through a hot 3-0-2 start for D.C.
Here’s what the lines looked like:
Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Tom Wilson
Anthony Mantha-Connor McMichael-T.J. Oshie
Conor Sheary-Hendrix Lapierre-Daniel Sprong
Carl Hagelin-Lars Eller-Garnet Hathaway
Martin Fehervary-John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov-Nick Jensen
Trevor van Riemsdyk-Justin Schultz
Vitek Vanecek/Ilya Samsonov
Laviolette also tweaked things on the power play on Saturday, placing Sheary on the PP1 unit instead of Mantha. He said the switch was the hope to ignite a spark, as the power play has been 0-for-14 over the last four games.
“He’s been excellent,” Laviolette said. “I mean, those last few games were really good. He’s tenacious on the puck, you know, he’s competing hard to turn over pucks and come up with pucks, he’s skilled enough to make plays and so, in the same sense, we’re not going to leave it alone either. We’ll try different pieces.”
Laviolette still has to touch base on whether or not Dowd will travel to Ottawa. Washington will hold an optional morning skate on Monday.