The Pregame: Caps Are Back in Town

After John Carlson, Braden Holtby and Todd Reirden took part in the NHL All-Star weekend festivities in San Jose and the rest of the team enjoying extra time off with both the All-Star break and the NHL mandatory bye week, the Caps are back in action. The team practiced on Thursday afternoon at MedStar Capitals Iceplex and will hold a morning skate tomorrow morning (or today if you’re reading this now) to gear up for a Friday night tilt. The second half push begins tonight with the Calgary Flames coming to Capital One Arena. The Caps hope a break can help them snap their seven game winless streak, something we hadn’t seen in quite some time. 

Thursday’s practice saw the Djoos on the loose. That’s right, defenseman Christian Djoos fully practiced with the team in a normal contact jersey. He’s been out since mid-December with a left thigh injury.

Djoos said after practice that he’s just taking it slow, day by day, and feeling good. Djoos was on the fourth blueline pairing with Jonas Siegenthaler, the latter having filled in for Djoos during his injury. There is no telling yet whether or not Djoos will play Friday night but even if he doesn’t, his return is coming soon.

CAPS LINES (Thursday’s practice):

The Capitals face a big challenge Friday night in adjusting to life without Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin skipped the All-Star festivities and by NHL laws must serve a one-game suspension. Since he played in the Caps final game before the break in Toronto, Ovi has to sit out Friday night’s Caps first game back from the break.

Ovechkin took rushes on the top line on Thursday at first but then there was a change when the team scrimmaged. Chandler Stephenson was in Ovechkin’s spot on the top line so that will likely be the case for Friday’s game barring a change at today’s morning skate.

The power play will also have a different look with Ovi’s absence. T.J. Oshie was in Ovi’s office spot on left circle with the top unit. Tom Wilson moved to Oshie’s spot. The power play is just 2-for-8 in their last four games so they’ll be looking to light that red lamp more in the second half.

CAPS FACTS

PREGAME LINKS
Explaining the unwritten rules and etiquette of a hockey fight by J.J. Regan/NBC Sports Washington
The Caps are finding out just how difficult it is to repeat as Stanley Cup champions by J.J. Regan/NBCSW
How active will the Capitals be on the trade market? by Chris Kuc/The Athletic

Our Twitter King Chris Cleveland contributed to this report.

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