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Capitals Notebook: McMichael Fills In For Eller, Team Considering Next Moves

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Capitals forward Connor McMichael

ARLINGTON, V.A. — Connor McMichael found himself in familiar yet somewhat unfamiliar territory with the Washington Capitals on Monday, as he returned to the center position for the first time in a long time with Lars Eller in quarantine yet again.

Eller entered the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol on Monday after testing positive while crossing back over the Canadian border into the United States, per the Capitals. He is still quarantining in Vancouver. It is unclear when he will return.

With No. 20 on the shelf, the Capitals saw a void down the middle at Monday’s practice. So McMichael, who climbed the pro ranks as a center but has primarily played wing in D.C., drew in as the pivot on the third line. Tom Wilson remained on that trio, and Daniel Sprong drew back into the mix. Sprong has been a healthy scratch for four straight games and eight of his last nine overall.

READ MORE ON WHN: Eller Enters COVID-19 Protocol For Second Time

The rest of the combinations for Friday’s tilt in Vancouver remained intact, with Conor Sheary sticking on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov were the two Capitals goalies on the ice.

Here are what the lines looked like at Monday’s practice:

Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Conor Sheary

Anthony Mantha-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie

Daniel Sprong-Connor McMichael-Tom Wilson

Axel Jonsson-Fjallby-Nic Dowd-Garnet Hathaway

Martin Fehervary-John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov-Nick Jensen

Trevor van Riemsdyk-Justin Schultz

McMichael has taken 232 face-offs at the NHL level, winning 91 of them (39.2 face-off percentage). Washington’s FO% of 47.2 is the fourth-worst in the league. Head coach Peter Laviolette said that the team was working through things in the room and would evaluate whether or not the team would make another call-up ahead of Tuesday’s game against the New York Islanders.

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