With the league’s best record, the Washington Capitals have had very few lineup changes this season. Why tinker with something that’s clearly working? That’s what made Tuesday morning’s sight at Kettler Capitals Iceplex so odd.

With Alex Ovechkin suspended for a game by the NHL for skipping the all-star game, Capitals Coach Barry Trotz moved Stanislav Galiev up to the first line with center Nicklas Backstrom and right wing T.J. Oshie. Galiev has played just 13 games, but Trotz made that move because he didn’t want to disturb the rest of his trios, keeping the second line intact. That could all change depending on how the Tuesday’s game against the Florida Panthers goes.

“He’ll have some fresh legs, obviously,” Trotz said. “I have a sort of secondary plan. I don’t want to break up every line just because we’re missing two guys. I’d like to just sort of keep as much as I can in control, and then I sort of have a secondary plan for lines, so we’ll just sort of feel it out and see who’s going. There might be lots of changes on the lines, or they might not.”

Said Galiev: “Hopefully, it’s going to be a good night, and we’re going to have some fun. Hopefully, we’re going to play good.”

While the second line of center Evgeny Kuznetsov, Justin Williams and Andre Burakovsky wasn’t changed, likely in large part because that line has scored at least once in four of Washington’s last five games, every other forward trio was. With center Marcus Johansson out for an unspecified period of time because of an unspecified upper-body injury, Trotz promoted Mike Richards to third-line center, and recent call-up Zach Sill took over fourth-line center duties, a role he occupied earlier this season. Trotz said Johansson skated before the team’s session.

The absences of Johansson and Ovechkin also created holes on the power play. Kuznetsov and Williams, both of whom usually play on the second power play unit, moved up to the first one, with Oshie in Ovechkin’s spot on the left faceoff circle and Williams in the slot.  On the second power play, the Capitals added Tom Wilson, and it’ll be his first time playing on the man-advantage this season.

Wilson knows he’s there for this game out of necessity, and he pointed out that it’s possible there are no power plays in the game and nothing comes of it. But he also knows it could be a good opportunity for him, as his name has often been mentioned as a power-play option for the future.

“Whenever you get a chance like that, you want to make the best of it,” Wilson said. “It’s no little thing to be playing on the power play in the NHL, so you’ve just got to take it and do the best you can.”


Stanislav Galiev-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie

Andre Burakovsky-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Justin Williams

Jason Chimera-Mike Richards-Tom Wilson

Brooks Laich-Zach Sill-Michael Latta


Karl Alzner-Matt Niskanen

Nate Schmidt-John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov-Taylor Chorney


Philipp Grubauer (starter)

Braden Holtby


Alex Ovechkin (suspended)

Marcus Johansson (upper-body)

Injured Reserve

Brooks Orpik (lower-body)

Jay Beagle (hand)