As the Washington Capitals prepare for the Columbus Blue Jackets, they find themselves currently dealing with more COVID-19 absences.
Nic Dowd missed Friday’s practice with an “illness,” but it was unknown whether or not it was COVID-related. He later entered the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. The team then announced that Trevor van Riemsdyk, who did skate on Friday, was also unavailable due to the COVID-19 protocol.
Both will miss Saturday’s tilt with Columbus.
This is the second time the Capitals have had to make adjustments due to COVID-19 after Lars Eller found himself testing positive and experiencing “mild” symptoms on the West Coast swing. He’d have to quarantine in Anaheim for 10 days and miss six games.
Washington held an optional morning skate on Sunday, with a few extras skating, including Daniel Sprong, Mike Sgarbossa, Dennis Cholowski and Vitek Vanecek. Matt Irwin did not skate and could make his Capitals debut in place of TVR on Saturday.
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Irwin has been a healthy scratch through the first 24 games of the 2021-22 campaign. The 6-2, 209-pound blueliner played 24 games for the Sabres last season, dishing two assists, 56 hits and 43 blocks and was a minus-10. Irwin is familiar with head coach Peter Laviolette, who he worked under during his time in Nashville.
Nicklas Backstrom continued to skate and has been cleared for contact, but will not play on Saturday. T.J. Oshie and Conor Sheary, who are also cleared for contact, were not skating and could play. However, seeing Sprong and Sgarbossa out could mean that both are drawing back in. Aliaksei Protas could end up moving back to pivot, or Oshie could take on that role, too, if necessary.
Puck drop is at 7 p.m. at Capital One Arena. Ilya Samsonov will start in goal.