That's right, the predictions are back! Another season is upon us and I can redeem myself from my dreadful picks from last season.
The Capitals are in Canada to open the 2017-18 season with a matchup against the Ottawa Senators (7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Washington). Here are three bold predictions for the game:
1. The Capitals will score three or more goals
Washington scored only three goals combined against the Senators in three games last season, though they still managed to win two of those three games. Tonight, however, Erik Karlsson is not playing which will definitely open things up. Some people are concerned about the Capitals offense following a slow preseason, but Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie and Andre Burakovsky are going to show up now that the games matter.
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2. We will see three or more slashing penalties
In case you haven’t noticed, there were a lot of penalties being doled out in the preseason. While the referees will likely let more go in the regular season, we are still going to see a lot more slashing penalties this season especially in the first few games as players continue adjusting.
3. Alex Ovechkin will score
Connor McDavid scored a hat trick, Auston Matthews scored one goal and three points and Sidney Crosby scored a goal and added an assist in the first games of the NHL season on Wednesday. The stars are out in force to start the season and that trend will continue on Thursday with the Great 8.
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CHICAGO—Four fans were ejected from United Center on Saturday night for taunting Devante Smith-Pelly as the Capitals’ winger sat in the penalty box.
The fans, according to a team spokesman, yelled “basketball, basketball, basketball” at Smith-Pelly, who is black. Smith-Pelly was in the box for fighting in the third period of an eventual 7-1 loss to the Blackhawks.
The taunts were confirmed by an off-ice official, the spokesman said, and the fans were subsequently removed from the arena.
Smith-Pelly did not speak with reporters after the game but is expected to address the incident at the team’s next media availability. The team is scheduled to practice Sunday at KeyBank Center in Buffalo.
Caps Coach Barry Trotz did not hold back when asked about the fans' comments.
“There’s absolutely no place in the game of hockey or our country for racism,” Trotz said. “I think it’s disgusting, and there’s no place for it. …It just shows ignorance.”
The Blackhawks responded on Twitter with an apology to Smith-Pelly, who is one of roughly 30 black players in the NHL.
February is Hockey is For Everyone month in the NHL.
Just about everything that could go wrong did for the Capitals on Saturday in a 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Caps were coming off a strong 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, but none of that carried over in the trip to Chicago. The Caps took on a Blackhawks team that had lost eight in a row, but Chicago quickly took control in the first period and never looked back.
Washington gave up 21 shots on goal in the first period and found themselves down 3-1 after the opening frame. Things did not get much better from there as they gave up another three goals in the final four minutes of the second.
Here are the three stars of the game.
1. Jonathan Toews: Toews opened up the scoring in the first period with a quick shot from the corner that caught Braden Holtby by surprise.
Later in the first, he recorded an assist as his pass sparked a breakout that led to Brandon Saad's deal that gave Chicago back the lead. The Caps tried to make a game of it in the second period, but Toews intercepted a pass from Brooks Orpik that led to a 2-on-0 with himself and Patrick Kane that Kane netted to give the Blackhawks a 4-1 lead and signaled to everyone that the rout was on. Saturday was only the second three-point night of the season for Toews.
2. Patrick Kane: Toews helped the Blackhawks take control early, but Kane helped provide the knockout punches in the second period. A bad pass from Orpik was intercepted by Toews that led to a 2-on-0 with Kane. Holtby made the initial save on Toews, but Kane was able to knock in the rebound for the goal.
Kane also added an assist on Artem Anisimov's power play goal which extended Chicago's lead to 6-1.
3. Tom Wilson: Before this one got out of hand, it looked like Wilson had erased the tough start for the Caps as he deflected a shot from Matt Niskanen into the net to get Washington on the board.
Saturday's tally was his third goal in two games and his 10th of the season, marking the first time in his career he has reached double digits in goals.