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Caps prospect watch: Ilya Samsonov watch begins as he enters KHL playoffs


Caps prospect watch: Ilya Samsonov watch begins as he enters KHL playoffs

The KHL playoffs are underway.

Goalie prospect Ilya Samsonov's Metallurg Magnitogorsk entered the postseason as the fifth seed in the East. With starting goalie Vasily Koshechkin returning from the Olympics, Samsonov ended up starting Games 1 and 2 against Avtomobilist. He played well winning the first game and turning aside 52 of the 56 total shots he faced (.929 save percentage) in the process.

The series now stands tied at 2.

Samsonov is in the final year of his contract meaning when his season is done, he could, in theory, come to North America.

Let's get this out of the way: Samsonov will not be replacing either Braden Holtby or Philipp Grubauer in Washington this season. Yes, goaltending has become an issue for the Caps over the past month, but the solution is not a 21-year-old goalie who has never played the North American game.

So what does Samsonov's short-term future hold?

Potentially, Samsonov could come to North America after the KHL season ends and play in Hershey. A few games in Hershey and a few weeks of practice could help his transition when he makes the full-time jump next season, as is expected.

There are just two problems. First, Samsonov's team has to lose. Second, there are only 16 games remaining in the regular season for Hershey and they are not going to make the playoffs.

If Samsonov loses in the first round, there is a slight chance we could see him in Hershey this spring, but it seems far more likely his North America debut will not take place until the fall.


Other prospect notes:

  • Conference hockey tournaments are underway in college. The big story for Caps fans is the North Dakota vs. Nebraska in the quarterfinal round of the NCHC Playoffs. That matchup pits prospect Shane Gersich against Steven Spinner. The series will be best two out of three.
  • Forward Brian Pinho will lead Providence against Maine in the Hockey East Quarterfinals. They will play a best of three series.
  • Defenseman Benton Maass' season has come to an end after New Hampshire was swept in two games by Maine. in his first collegiate season, Maass registered four goals and 13 assists in 36 games.
  • Bears defenseman Connor Hobbs took a high hit from Lehigh Valley's Nicolas Aube-Kubel in Friday's game. He missed both of Hershey's remaining two games over the weekend with an upper-body injury and is considered day-to-day. Aube-Kubel was suspended two games for the hit.

  • Forward Tim McGauley, who was recently called up to Hershey from the ECHL, recorded an assist in the Bears' shootout loss on Sunday. The assist is the first AHL point of McGauley's career.
  • Forward Kris Bindulis scored the overtime winner for the South Carolina Stingrays on Saturday. Of his four goals this season, two of them have been overtime winners.
  • Adam Carlson is thriving with his new ECHL team, the Kansas City Mavericks. He made two starts over the weekend and won both, stopping 66 of 71 shots he faced (.930 save percentage).  Head coach John-Scott Dickson spoke glowingly of the team's goalies saying, "With Carlson and Mavric (Parks) we have two young goalies who are getting better with each start. We're all excited to see what they do the rest of the season."
  • Garrett Pilon finished a strong February for Everett in the WHL. He led the team in points with 15 (eight goals, seven assists).

Who are the Caps' top 10 prospects? Find out here in this week's updated rankings 

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Red Wings

3 reasons the Caps beat the Red Wings

Not much separated the Washington Capitals and the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday. A late 2-on-0 goal for Brett Connolly proved to be the difference.

Here's why the Caps ultimately walked away with the 1-0 win.

A first period goalie interference call

Andreas Athanasiou thought he had given the Red Wings a first period lead, but Barry Trotz challenged the call for goalie interference. The review showed that Tyler Bertuzzi clipped Philipp Grubauer in the head with an elbow right before the shot went in. Given how long it took the Caps to get going in this game, it is fair to say an early deficit would have been hard to overcome.


Killing off a full two-minute 5-on-3

Two man advantages are hard to kill. Killing off a full two-minutes at 5-on-3, that's a tall task. With the game still scoreless in the second period, T.J. Oshie and Lars Eller were both assessed penalties giving Detroit two-full minutes at 5-on-3. The Red Wings managed four shots on goal, but Washington was able to successfully kill off the penalty and keep the game scoreless.

Philipp Grubauer

There were few players who had strong efforts on Tuesday, but Grubauer was phenomenal. Even when the game felt sleepy in the first two periods, Detroit still managed 28 shots on goal, all of which were turned aside by the German netminder. When Washington finally took the lead in the third, the Red Wings woke up and began pushing the offense, but Grubauer was in the zone at that point and could not be beaten. His best save came in the third period when he stared down a breakaway from Athanasiou and extended the pad to deny the shot.


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Tarik's 3 stars: Grubauer, Caps shut down the Red Wings

Tarik's 3 stars: Grubauer, Caps shut down the Red Wings

It wasn’t pretty but the Caps eventually got what they needed in Detroit: two points.  

After a sleepy first 40 minutes, Brett Connolly scored midway through the third period and then Philipp Grubauer made sure it stood up at Little Caesars Arena, where Washington eked out a 1-0 victory Thursday over the scuffling Red Wings.


Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Philipp Grubauer, Capitals

For much of the game, Grubi was left to fend for himself. Good thing for the Caps he was up to the task. The German netminder, who has been one of the NHL’s top goaltenders since Thanksgiving, turned aside 39 shots, including three stops on a pivotal 5-on-3 penalty kill in the second period.

2-Brett Connolly, Capitals

The Caps didn’t get many Grade-A opportunities vs. Jimmy Howard. But Connolly buried one of the few they got…on a 2-on-0, set up by Jakub Vrana in the third period.

Connolly’s goal was his 15th of the season in his 63rd game, equaling the career-high he set a year ago in 66 contests. Vrana, meantime, has three goals and five assists since getting scratched 12 games ago.

3-Lars Eller, Capitals

Eller didn’t record a point, but he was all over the puck in Motown. The veteran center finished with a game-high six shots on net. He also had a key backcheck against Darren Helm, on a shorthanded breakaway, in the first period.

Eller was good in the dot, too, winning eight of 12 faceoffs.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.