Taking Hagelin’s place as the third-line left wing is Chandler Stephenson. Stephenson, who has been in and out of the lineup to start the season, has played in 13 games this season, recording two goals and one assist while averaging 11:05 of ice time.
“Just don’t think too much,” Stephenson said. “Just go out and play the game and don’t look into it and obviously you want to stay in the lineup every night, but you think ‘I need to stay in the lineup every night,’ and you just go out and do what you do and do your thing.”
The 25-year-old forward recently saw time on the fourth line after center Nic Dowd suffered a lower body injury on Oct. 29 in Toronto. Dowd missed three games due to injury, but is now healthy and will be back the lineup against Vegas as the team’s fourth-line center.
Flanking Dowd with Stephenson getting the temporary bump to the third line will be Brendan Leipsic and Travis Boyd. Stephenson will skate alongside Lars Eller and Garnet Hathaway.
“It’s obviously just nice to have that confidence in the coaching staff and I think it’s going to be fun playing with Hath and Lars,” Stephenson said. “They just work so hopefully we will get a lot of pucks and a lot of chances so hopefully we have chemistry early.”
In other injury news, the Capitals are still with forward Richard Panik (upper body) who remains on long-term injured reserve. Panik played in eight games before he was injured and did not record a goal nor an assist. He was originally skating on the third line, before a shuffle dropped him to the fourth line.
Panik is not eligible to come back until Monday’s game against Arizona. Washington will have to make some tough roster decisions at that point, with Panik and his $2.75 million salary going back on the books. The most likely scenario is that the Capitals will have to send a forward down to the team’s American Hockey League affiliate in Hershey Pa.