The Washington Capitals will look to bounce back quickly after their five-game winning streak was snapped by the Dallas Stars on Thursday. They will try to knock off a Toronto Maple Leafs team that has won eight of its last 10 games.
During their skate Saturday morning, the Caps saw the return of several recently absent players who were sidelined by injury or illness.
Here’s how head coach Peter Laviolette has set up his team for line rushes, via The Athletic’s Tariq El-Bashir.
#Caps: lines / pairs / gates before TOR.
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) December 17, 2022
The most notable inclusion comes in the form of left winger Sonny Milano. Milano missed the loss to the Stars with a non-COVID illness, and it appears that one game absence will be as long as there is time left. “Milan” scored 11 points (3g, 8a) in 19 games played by “Caps” in the current season.
Milano and their remaining teammates were joined on the ice by Martin Fehervar and Beck Malensteen. Both players wore navy blue non-contact jerseys during their first full practice back with the team.
“I think he went out (skating) in the morning,” Laviolette said of Fehervari on Friday. “He is himself. He works himself into things. I don’t believe he’s still here with the band, no. He’s not here, but he’s on the ice and he’s making progress.”
Fehervari has not played since being hit by Milan Lucic on Dec. 3 against the Calgary Flames. Malenstine has been out longer since he broke his finger blocking a punt Nov. 1 against the Vegas Golden Knights.
“He’s just been here a day or two and he’s mixing it up a little bit,” Laviolette continued of Malensteen. “He’s capable of more, so it’s nice to see and get him out of here.”
And Fehervari is now there in a non-contact jersey. pic.twitter.com/moxGgXPYM6
— Katie (@That_WriterGirl) December 17, 2022
The week’s skate also saw an interesting update for Nicklas Backstrom as the Caps legend ditched the non-contact jersey he’s been doing all of his work in in favor of a plain white sweater. The Caps told El-Bashir that the playing core is still “far away” from any kind of game action, but it is encouraging progress nonetheless.
Samantha Pell of The Washington Post reports that Charlie Lindgren will be the designated starter again on Saturday for the Connections. Lindgren is 5-2 in December with a 2.06 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage. He was the NHL’s first star of the week for the week ending Dec. 11.
Toronto will come into the game on the back of the New York Rangers’ winning streak on Thursday. That game also ended forward Mitch Marner’s franchise-record 23-game hitting streak.
Header photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB