What the Capitals' initial lines at training camp tells us

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J.J. Regan
·2 min read
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What the Capitals' initial lines at training camp tells us originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Nothing an NHL coach does is ever random. There is a purpose behind every decision he makes so when the Capitals took to the ice for the first practice of training camp on Monday, we already learned some things about where players stand coming into camp in various roster battles in the yes of head coach Peter Laviolette.

With a large roster, the practice was split into two groups. Group A was the NHL regulars. Right away, we learned something about the goalie competition as Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek were in Group A while Craig Anderson, Pheonix Copley and Zack Fucale were in Group B. At least heading into camp, this suggests Vanecek is the frontrunner to be the backup. Participating in Group A will give Vanecek the chance to play against the other NHL regulars. While he is taking shots from Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie, Anderson and Copley will be facing shots from Daniel Carr and Shane Gersich.

Here are the lines from Group A's practice:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson

Jakub Vrana - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie

Conor Sheary - Lars Eller - Richard Panik

Carl Hagelin - Nic Dowd - Garnet Hathaway

Dmitry Orlov - John Carlson

Brenden Dillon - Justin Schultz

Jonas Siegenthaler - Nic Jensen

Martin Fehervary - Trevor van Riemsdyk

Ilya Samsonov

Vitek Vanecek

Zdeno Chara was not on the ice due to quarantine protocols.

There are no major surprises in the top six. Sheary was on the third line which is not a surprise, but he was on the left with Panik on the right. Panik spent most of last season on the third line where he was disappointing. He did not really seem to find his rhythm with the team until he was moved down to the fourth. Now it appears he will have a chance to win that third-line job again.

With Panik on the third, that bumped Hagelin down to the fourth.

Orlov was on the top pair with Carlson. Just where exactly Orlov ends up will be interesting. An Orlov-Carlson pairing has not played all that well in the past as Orlov seems more suited to playing with a stay-at-home partner. With Carlson on the top pair and Schultz on the second, however, that makes it difficult to figure out the best spot for Orlov.

Siegenthaler is most likely a placeholder and will likely bump down when Chara is able to get on the ice.

This was just the first day of camp and how these lines are now may not be how they ultimately end up. Certainly, nothing is guaranteed on the first day of camp, but it is interesting to note what Laviolette's initial thoughts of his team are on Day 1.

OddsMoney LinePoint SpreadTotal Points
Buffalo
-118-1.5O 5.5
Washington
+100+1.5U 5.5