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With Burakovsky and Stephenson out, Travis Boyd will make his long-awaited NHL debut


With Burakovsky and Stephenson out, Travis Boyd will make his long-awaited NHL debut

Travis Boyd will finally make his NHL debut Monday night vs. the Sharks after awaiting his turn for two-plus seasons.

For the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Boyd, who was recalled Sunday, it’ll mark the realization of a childhood dream when he lines up against San Jose.

For the Caps, it’ll be their first chance to see how close the 2011 sixth-round pick is to being a full-time NHL player.


“We want to see what his resume looks like at the National Hockey League level before you can say, ‘Hey, we can put him or there,’” Coach Barry Trotz said of Boyd. “We’ve got to see what the resume looks like on a first-see basis, and see if he can build a little bit of a resume so that we can do certain things.”

Based on morning skate rushes, Boyd will play on the third line with Lars Eller and Brett Connolly. Boyd is replacing Chandler Stephenson, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury that he suffered Saturday. (Boyd getting a shot also means that Tyler Graovac will miss a second straight game as a healthy scratch.) 

Boyd’s challenge on this recall will be twofold: he’s a right-shot who is shifting from first line center (with the Bears) to third line left wing against the Sharks and he’s probably not going to get much time to show what he’s got. Stephenson figures to be back “fairly soon” according to Trotz, and Andre Burakosky, who has missed 18 games, is also nearing his return.

So, yeah, no pressure kid.

“Travis is going to play a little bit out of position today but…he’s been their best player for two-plus years down there,” Trotz said. “I think he deserves a shot to come up and play. I also think it also gives us a better feel for what we have down in Hershey.”


As for switching from center to wing, Trotz said he suspects 24-year-old Minnesotan will figure it out.

“He’s a good hockey player; he’ll adjust,” Trotz said. “Obviously some of the wall plays and stuff that he doesn’t get he doesn’t get at the center position will be a little bit foreign to him. …His skill level will have to dictate how well he can do there.”

Boyd said his parents, brother, girlfriend, daughter and other family members will be in attendance at Capital One Arena, where he’ll become the fourth player to make his NHL debut for Washington this season, joining Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos and Nathan Walker.

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Blackhawks fans tossed after directing racist remarks at Washington's Smith-Pelly

Blackhawks fans tossed after directing racist remarks at Washington's Smith-Pelly

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.

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3 stars of the game: Caps suffer ugly loss to scuffling Blackhawks

3 stars of the game: Caps suffer ugly loss to scuffling Blackhawks

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.