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Capitals Training Camp Notebook: Mantha Riding Top Line; Eller, Backstrom Updates



Capitals forward Anthony Mantha

The Washington Capitals hit the ice again for training camp on Tuesday. Washington is set to face the New Jersey Devils in their second preseason game on Wednesday.

Here are some takeaways from Tuesday morning’s skate.

Mantha Sticking With Ovechkin, Kuznetsov

Anthony Mantha is still skating on the top line alongside Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin. Mantha’s also working on the power-play unit, serving as a net-front presence and playing along the half-wall. The 26-year-old is enjoying the opportunity so far and has made his presence known at camp. He’s showing a lot of strength and intensity on the ice and skating well.

Mantha said that playing alongside No. 8 is “unreal,” and he’s also taken a lot away by skating with No. 92.

“For me, it’s just to be intense, try to win my 1-on-1 battles down low, try to come out with the pucks, put pressure on the defenseman and create turnovers,” Mantha said in regards to his role on that top trio.

Eller Returns To Practice

Lars Eller left mid-practice on Monday due to a lower-body injury. Washington said the move was precautionary, and it appears that’s all it was. The Danish center was back on the ice on Tuesday, sporting a regular red jersey and going full-speed in practice.

Eller has made his mark so far for the Capitals at camp, and having him on the ice will be vital if Nicklas Backstrom does indeed miss a lot of time.

“If I’m going to be playing more, maybe in his spot, I’ll hold the seat warm for him until he comes back,” Eller said.

Lapierre Skates Alongside Oshie, Protas

One combination that Washington could see against the New Jersey Devils: Hendrix Lapierre, T.J. Oshie and Aliaksei Protas. The trio ran drills together and showcased solid speed and chemistry out there. Lapierre is making quite the case and continued to dig into face-offs after the team’s practice.

“I wouldn’t want to pick the guy that’s gonna you know, fill in the middle, because there’s a lot of good ones out here… [Lapierre] seems like a great young kid. Very skilled, moves his feet, sees the ice very well… I know it’s just practice, but he was going against Ovi and he was playing defense and that’s tough.”

Oshie said he also likes what he’s seeing from Connor McMichael.

Sammi’s Top-Shelf Takes And Updates

Nicklas Backstrom was again absent from training camp. Eller added that the team is “prepared to be without Nick for a little bit.” He’s currenlty listed as week-to-week as he continues rehabilitation on his hip.

Michal Kempny continues to look strong out there. It seems like he’s gaining his speed and confidence back each day. Lucas Johansen is also working hard out there to make an impression on the Capitals; he’s moving the puck well and getting involved in the rush, while also showing his physicality.

Johansen did go down hard and was bleeding from the face after attempting a check on Axel Jonsson-Fjallby. He went to the dressing room but returned shortly after.

Bobby Nardella is still skating in a powder-blue, no-contact jersey. Haakon Hanelt, who missed rookie camp due to injury, hit the ice and was full-go at Tuesday’s on-ice session. His speed was impressive and he made the most of his time out there.

Other plays who stood out, in my opinion: Martin Fehervary and Carl Hagelin looked great.

In non-hockey news, Ovechkin brought his son, Sergei, out for a whirl after the first group session, carrying him over to chat with Kuznetsov, John Carlson and more.

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