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Why McMichael Was On Capitals Fourth Line & Why Not To Read Into It



Washington Capitals Connor McMichael

ARLINGTON, V.A. — The Washington Capitals saw some tweaks to Group A on Thursday, and with those changes came some new line combinations that stood out. Mainly, the fourth line, which saw Connor McMichael slot into the Carl Hagelin spot alongside Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway.

It was the first time the 21-year-old has been there at camp. Coming into 2022-23, McMichael is competing for the second-line center role with the likes of Dylan Strome and Lars Eller. He is aiming to be a full-time pivot this season, given he’s more comfortable down the middle. McMichael has also gotten a look on the wing too as Strome and Eller also compete for the 2C spot.

Still, head coach Peter Laviolette advised against reading too much into No. 24’s placement at Thursday’s skate.

“I wouldn’t put too much into it,” he said simply. “Sometimes when you move something up and you’re looking at someone higher up in the lineup, that’s a position that might be open. And we’re trying to just manage three groups here [at camp]… sometime’s it’s better to just get a workout by just keeping the group a little bit tighter.”

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That was the case for Thursday, as McMichael swapped places with Marcus Johansson. Johansson moved to the third line to operate with Lars Eller and Conor Sheary after a strong game on Wednesday. Strome earned the second-line center spot at practice. He dished two goals in his Washington debut against the Philadelphia Flyers and has been making noise so far.

Takeaways: Strome & New Guys Steal Show As Capitals Edge Flyers

Still, Laviolette isn’t considering anything “locked in.”

All of Group A will travel for the upcoming preseason road trip. The Capitals will play back-to-back games against the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets. This will be the first time that Washington’s regulars like Alex Ovechkin, Darcy Kuemper and more will suit up for preseason action.

Here were Thursday’s Capitals lines:

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