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Capitals Notebook: Team Switches Up Top-6, Vanecek, Oshie Absent

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The Washington Capitals are seeing a new-look Kuznetsov entering 2021-22.

ARLINGTON, V.A. — After a not-so-Super Bowl Sunday performance against the Ottawa Senators, the Washington Capitals got right back to work on Monday — and made just a couple of tweaks.

After reuniting Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom against the Sens, head coach Peter Laviolette reunited Ovechkin with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson. Meanwhile, Backstrom went back with Joe Snively and Conor Sheary.

The team stuck with the same game plan on the bottom-6, and the defense pairings stayed the same. Pheonix Copley and Ilya Samsonov were the two Capitals goalies on the ice.

The team is still missing a few names. Anthony Mantha hasn’t joined the group yet, and T.J. Oshie and Vitek Vanecek were also absent. Vanecek did some individual work on Saturday but has not skated with the group since suffering an upper-body injury on Feb. 1 against the Penguins.

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It has been nearly a month since Oshie last played. He skated 2:46 minutes against the New York Islanders on Jan. 15 before leaving with an upper-body injury. He was on the ice in late January for individual work but has not joined the group.

Washington got in some reps while preparing for a two-game road swing before a small break and two more road games. The Capitals kick off their trip on Tuesday against Laviolette’s former team in the Nashville Predators.

“It’s something that we really want to get sorted out. Obviously we’re working at it, to try to figure out what it is… We can’t get frustrated,” Trevor van Riemsdyk said of the team’s struggles of late. “We got a lot of guys that played a lot of games that know that pressing or getting frustrated is not to solve anything. Like Nick said, you have to get back to having that confidence and playing with that confidence and doing the right things.”

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