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Capitals Game Day: Kempny Set To Play First Game Since Jan. 26; Sprong Sits

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Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny

After seeing a player go down with an injury and the forecheck deliver in a big 4-1 win over Nashville on Tuesday, the Washington Capitals are making a couple of tweaks to the lineup as they prepare to keep things rolling against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Most notably, there is a change on defense. Michal Kempny appears set to draw in with Justin Schultz day-to-day with an upper-body injury he suffered in Nashville. Kempny last played on Jan. 26 in a 4-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks on home ice. He skated 17:06 and was a minus-1 in that game. After that loss, the team headed to Dallas, where Kempny entered COVID-19 protocol. He ended up having to quarantine in Dallas before eventually returning to practice, and he has not played since with the top-6 healthy.

Through seven games this season, Kempny has one assist and six PIM and is a minus-1, and he also has 14 hits and 13 blocks. The 31-year-old blueliner started the season down in Hershey after a tough go-of-it in training camp, giving him time to continue rehabilitating following two major left-leg surgeries over the last couple of years.

READ MORE ON WHN: Samsonov Feeling ‘Better And Better’ As He Takes On More Starts For Capitals

Looking at the lines from morning skate via The Washington Post’s Samantha Pell, Kempny will slot in on his natural left side and skate alongside Trevor van Riemsdyk, who will go back to his natural right side. TVR has been playing on his off side this season.

Meanwhile, Washington will also see a change on the forward lines. Daniel Sprong appears to be the odd man out as Brett Leason slots in on the third line with Connor McMichael and Lars Eller. Sprong has gone five straight games without a point and has eight goals and 13 points in 42 total games this season. Leason has three goals and six points in 33 games up with the Capitals during his rookie campaign.

Washington also swapped Tom Wilson and Conor Sheary, moving Sheary to the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov while having Tom Wilson skate alongside Nicklas Backstrom and Joe Snively. The rest of the lines and pairings remained the same.

Per head coach Peter Laviolette, Ilya Samsonov will start and play in his seventh straight game. All three Capitals goalies were on the ice for practice, though, with Vitek Vanecek making progress with regard to his recovery from an upper-body injury.

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