Amid more adversity, the Washington Capitals are working through quite a few changes just hours before puck drop against the Edmonton Oilers and in turn, made a couple more roster moves.
Washington recalled Brett Leason and Pheonix Copley from the taxi squad and assigned Hunter Shepard to Hershey. The transactions come after Alex Ovechkin tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday and with Vitek Vanecek’s status uncertain following an upper-body injury on Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Ovechkin entered the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol earlier in the afternoon following a positive test. He will be unavailable for Wednesday’s tilt and will also miss out on the NHL All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas. He was set to captain the Metropolitan Division and join Evgeny Kuznetsov as the team’s representatives this season.
The Russian has 29 goals and 58 points through 46 games this season. He sits eight goals shy of passing Jaromir Jagr for third on the NHL’s all-time goals list. This is the first time he has been on COVID-19 protocol this season, joining Michal Kempny as the only other Washington skater currently in protocol.
READ MORE ON WHN: Ovechkin Tests Positive For COVID-19
After Wednesday, the Capitals will no longer have to test players daily if they are asymptomatic, per the league’s new COVID-19 protocol. That new protocol goes into effect after each club’s final game before the NHL All-Star Break. This will be the third straight All-Star Weekend that Ovechkin will miss.
Meanwhile, in net, it’s unclear what the exact situation is. However, it looks likely that Copley will at least dress. Head coach Peter Laviolette hasn’t named a starter yet.
Vanecek left early in the first period of Tuesday’s game against the Penguins after colliding hard with Kasperi Kapanen. He stayed in, but after surrendering a power-play goal soon after, he left the game. Ilya Samsonov put on a show in relief, stopping 43 of 45 shots for a huge overtime victory. While Samsonov looked solid, it’s unclear if Laviolette will want to make him start back-to-back games, especially after an unexpected start on Tuesday.