Showcasing what the Capitals lineup might look like with Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson returning from injury

The Washington Capitals will guide the Stars forward Niklas Backstrom And Tom Wilson Returning to the lineup for the first time this season on Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

To make those big moves, some tough roster decisions have to be made, and the caps will look very different going forward. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how they might line up now that the roster spots have been opened up for Backstrom and Wilson.

the operation

First, I’m going to try to get into Peter Laviolette’s head and predict what he’ll actually throw on the ice, at least at the start of Backstrom and Wilson’s comebacks. It would be a more “realistic” and factor in sending Aliaksei Protas to Hershey and Joe Snively to be placed on waivers.

Second, I’m going to go through the team without taking into account that the Capitals sent Alyaksi Protas and gave up Joe Sniffi. This would be what the hats would look like if Chris Cerullo were playing the franchise mode in a video game with them. It will be a more “for fun” version of the team that still takes into account injury context, salary cap, and other factors.

Well, great. Let’s do it.

Note: The statistical data provided in this post comes thanks to And

Predict what Lavi will do

Ovechkin Kuznetsov Wilson
Strom Backstrom O’Shea
Johansson Eller Cherry
Mantha Dodd Hathaway

Orlov Jensen

scratches: Sonny Milano, Nicholas Op-Koppel and Alex Alexeyev

  • Recently Alex Ovechkin is back with Evgeny Kuznetsov at the top of the squad for a handful of matches. Could it be because this is the planned top line moving forward and Lavi wanted to give Ovi and Kuzy some game reps back together in preparation? Could. Outside of that, it’s a top streak the team has used over 558 five-on-five minutes in LaVey’s first two seasons in dominating the Caps. He’s kind of Old Faithful, they’ve won a trophy with him, and it makes sense that Wilson would return to some kind of familiarity.
  • We’ve been hearing hints since training camp that Dylan Strom will play sometime on the wing this season. In recent practices, due to Backstrom and Wilson’s involvement, he skated on the wing during some line lunges. I don’t think he’ll leave the top six unless he gets back into the middle so he’ll be on the left wing of the second line with his left shot where he’s played some during the pre-season. Backstrom and TJ Oshie is a tried and true connection (478 5v5 minutes together since 2020-21) but I’m also likely to see Conor Cherry and Oshie flipped here.
  • The third line is where I think I might end up being very wrong. I haven’t been able to get a good read on what LaVey really thinks of Marcus Johansson due to his barrage of injuries. If it was Kuznetsov or Ström who was moved from the first power unit in favor of Backstrom, I think Johansson would definitely stay. If it’s Johansson who left that standout group, perhaps it’s the hot stick for Sonny Milano and his wife – the production powerhouse gets to stay in the lineup. I don’t think Lars Eller is going anywhere yet.
  • Anthony Mantha’s hypothetical location would be on the left side of the fourth line which would have been totally weird to hear a few months ago. I think they’ve experimented with that over the past couple of games for a reason, and Mantha has been the best defensive fit on that super-spread defensive line the way Laviolette has laid things out. Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway are inseparable.
  • Finally, Matt Irwin is one of LaVey’s favorites and he really did everything that was asked of him so he stayed in. This sixth defensive spot is really the only one in the backfield that’s worth any conversation due to John Carlsson’s long-term injury.

What will Chris do?

Mantha Kuznetsov-Wilson
Milano Backstrom O’Shea
Brutus Dodd Hathaway

Orlov Jensen
Virvari Alexeev

scratches: Marcus Johansson, Lars Eller, Matt Irwin

  • As you can tell right away, my list of fantasy hats has seen both Joe Snively and Nicolas Aube-Kubel concede. NAK offered something different in the Caps lineup but that’s only because Wilson wasn’t in it. Smartly he needs to go somewhere and play. Whether it’s in Hershey’s top line or somewhere else in the NHL where there are fewer top-notch talent holding him back.
  • I’m going to stick to the first line who’s had great results in 237 minutes combined this season and simply keep Alex Ovechkin in the attacking area more often. With Ovi, Dylan Strome and Conor Sheary on the ice this season in a five-on-five, the team gets 50.6% of shot attempts, 57% of goals expected, 53.4% ​​of scoring chances and 57.5% of goals. High risk opportunities. Don’t stray from it while it’s working.
  • If anthony mantha will play up to his salary and According to what the stats behind his play say this seasonHe needs to do this with more of the team’s outstanding offensive talent. He is an excellent defensive winger, as is Wilson, who pairs well with Kuznetsov’s shortcomings. Since acquiring Mantha, the team sees nearly 54 percent more projected goals when on the ice in a five-on-five with Kuznetsov. It’s a coupling that works.
  • I team Sony Milano all the way. Of all the NHL forwards who have played at least 200 minutes in five-on-five this season, Milano ranks 24th in total points per 60 minutes. I think he would fit very well next to the healthy Backstrom and would provide a nice speed element to the cerebral duo of Backstrom and Oshie. Marcus Johansson and Lars Eller sit with me. If you can combine both players at this point in their careers into one game, you’ll have a great player. They are not doing enough individually at the moment.
  • Alixi Protas is absolutely not going anywhere if you are in charge. He formed a true force of nature in the fourth line with Hathaway and David. First, I’m going to list the areas of ice and how often that streak occurs in a face-off in those areas this season. They took 118 tackles in defensive zone, 75 tackles in neutral zone, and just 16 tackles in offensive zone in just over 193 minutes of five-on-five ice time. For some lines, these numbers might indicate that they are freaky and circle them in their own territory a lot. It’s the opposite case here that these three are deployed to start the vast majority of their transformations outside the attacking area and against the opposition’s top lines. And the numbers they put in those minutes? 54.8 percent of shot attempts, 63.3 percent of expected goals, 57.9 percent of scoring chances, and 61 percent of high risk chances.
  • Finally, I would play Alex Alexiev because I think he needs consistent minutes as a younger defenceman. He didn’t hurt the team when he was playing. Neither of them had Matt Irwin, but when I can sprinkle youth into the Caps lineup, I will.

Well, now you have my thoughts on what I think LaVey will do and what I will do. We’ll see how well I do when the disc drops at 5pm Sunday night.

Now, what would you do if you were in charge? Add your sample lineup in the comments.

Banner photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB

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