Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette announced on Thursday that four players will miss at least their next four upcoming games, including two games against the Buffalo Sabres. All four of these players are being quarantined as part of the leagues’ COVID-19 protocol.
The four players include Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Ilya Samsonov, and Dmitry Orlov. These four players were placed on the NHL’s COVID list on Wednesday. They all violated the league protocol and the team was fined $100,000.
So this obviously has a huge impact on this upcoming Sabres back-to-back in Washington. The Capitals will be without some key pieces and they will certainly have to shuffle up lines a decent amount.
With the loss of goaltender Ilya Samsonov, the Sabres will likely see Vitek Vanecek for at least one, maybe both of the games of this back-to-back. Buffalo faced Vanecek in the second game of the season and he held the Sabres to one goal on 31 shots in a game Buffalo lost 2-1.
The Capitals have also recalled veteran goaltender Craig Anderson from their taxi squad to back up Vanecek while Samsonov is unavailable. The 39-year-old netminder joined the Capitals this offseason and it looks like his number could be called at least once early in the season.
All of these players the Capitals will be without are big losses. It goes without saying how big a hole Ovechkin will leave while he is out. He has five points through four games and averages over 19 minutes of ice time per game.
Kuznetsov and Orlov are large losses as well. Kuznetsov has started the season averaging over 15 minutes of ice time per game. Orlov has averaged just over 20 minutes per game. So regardless of who is going to step up into these roles, they will have some tough shoes to fill.
It will be interesting to watch how the Capitals handle playing without some of their key pieces this Friday and Sunday against the Sabres. Washington is currently 2-0-2 which puts them in second place in the East Division, while the Sabres are sitting at 1-3-0 and in eighth place.