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Caps prospect watch: March Madness begins for college hockey

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Caps prospect watch: March Madness begins for college hockey

It's not just March Madness for basketball, the college hockey tournaments are underway as well.

The matchup of most interest to Capitals fans was the battle between Shane Gersich's North Dakota and Steven Spinner's Nebraska-Omaha in the NCHC quarterfinals. North Dakota emerged victorious with a 4-0 win on Friday and a 4-3 overtime win on Saturday. Gersich scored one goal while Spinner tallied one assist.

North Dakota will play St. Cloud State on Friday in the semifinal of the NCHC Frozen Faceoff.

Providence College also advanced in the Hockey East tournament after dispatching Maine in two games in the quarterfinals. Caps prospect Brian Pinho recorded one assist in the two games. Providence will play Northeastern in the semifinals on Friday.

The postseason came to an end for Chase Priskie's Quinnipiac as they were defeated in two games by Cornell.

CHECK OUT THIS WEEK’S UPDATED CAPS’ PROSPECT RANKINGS HERE

Other prospect notes:

  • Pinho earned two end of season Hockey East awards for his strong senior season as announced on Wednesday. He was named the winner of the Gladiator Custom Mouthguards Best Defensive Forward Award and also garnered Third Team All-Star honors.
  • The Hershey Bears are dealing with a number of injuries as Riley Barber (upper-body), Mason Mitchell (upper-body) and Connor Hobbs (lower-body) have all been ruled out of all three of Hershey's games this weekend. Head coach Troy Mann said he considers Barber to be week-to-week.
  • With injuries mounting the Bears recalled forward Hampus Gustafsson from the ECHL. He has spent most of the season with South Carolina, recording 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 29 games. In the 14 games he has with Hershey already this season, he managed two assists. Defenseman Kris Bindulis was also re-assigned from South Carolina to Hershey. He has 15 points in 34 games with the Stingrays and two penalty minutes to show for his six games with the Bears earlier in the season.
  • Goalie Vitek Vanecek's start on Saturday marked the 100th professional game of his career. In his Hershey career, Vanecek has recorded a 28-18-9 record with a 2.67 GAA, .903 save percentage and seven shutouts. Goalie is a crowded position in the Capitals' organization with Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer with the NHL squad and Ilya Samsonov considered the future starter in Washington. Vanecek has done well in the AHL, but has not to this point shown he can compete for playing time at the NHL level.
  • Speaking of Samsonov, his highly anticipated North American debut has been delayed as his KHL team, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, won its first-round playoff series over Avtomobilist in six games. The chances he would come to North America this spring were already remote given the fact that the Bears will almost certainly not make the playoffs which means he would not have as much opportunity to practice and play. Advancing to the second round in the KHL makes it even less likely we see him before summer/fall.
  • The Capitals and South Carolina Stingrays extended their affiliation agreement through the 2019-20 season, it was announced on Thursday. Holtby, Grubauer and Jay Beagle all have played for South Carolina in the past.
  • Goalie Adam Carlson seems to have earned the confidence of the coaches of his ECHL team. The Kansas City Mavericks had three games this past week and Carlson started all three of them stopping 74 of the 81 shots he faced (.914 save percentage). He was named the second star of the game on March 7 after leading the Mavericks to a 4-1 win over Colorado.
  • Check out the highlights of Djurgardens IF win over Orebro in the SHL (sometimes the video says it can only play in Sweden, but I have watched it three times despite not being in Sweden). The first goal of the game was scored by forward prospect Axel Jonsson-Fjallby. He is someone who is generating a lot of excitement after a strong performance in the World Junior Tournament. He projects to be a bottom-six, penalty kill type of player, but his blistering speed always makes him a threat on the offensive end of the ice.
  • Defensive prospect Dmitriy Zaitsev missed two games for the Moose Jaw Warriors after taking an illegal hit from Swift Current's Tanner Nagel. Nagel was assessed a three-game suspension for the hit, but Zaitsev's status remains in flux for now.

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

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Game 6 Capitals at Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 6 Capitals at Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

After three straight wins, the Caps now sit just one win away from closing out the Columbus Blue Jackets. They will get their shot to finish the series Monday in Game 6.

Nicklas Backstrom was the hero in Game 5 for Washington with three points including the overtime winner. Who will step up in Game 6? The Caps will need to make sure it's not Artemi Panarin who has been held without a point in two straight games. Washington will also need to make sure their penalty kill stays hot as they have killed off 13 straight power plays for the Blue Jackets.

The Pittsburgh Penguins await the winner of this series after closing out the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. Will the Caps close out Columbus and set up the rematch?

What: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, Round 1, Game 6

Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 6 will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 6 on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

The Capitals take on the Blue Jackets in Game 6 on Monday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Columbus. Washington currently leads the series 3-2.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME ON?

Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 6 will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:30 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:30 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:30 p.m. — Capitals at Blue Jackets
10:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:30 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Capitals-Blue Jackets Game 6, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Here are the Caps' projected lines:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Chandler Stephenson - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly- Lars Eller - Devante Smith-Pelly
Jakub Vrana -  Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Scratches: Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky (upper-body), Shane Gerisch, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

SEE THE CAPITALS VS. BLUE JACKETS FULL SERIES SCHEDULE HERE

CAPITALS SCHEDULE

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Capitals one win away from facing the Penguins ... again

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Capitals one win away from facing the Penguins ... again

The Washington Capitals are one win away from advancing to the second round of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

If they do beat the Blue Jackets in Game 6 or Game 7, a familiar foe awaits them.

The Pittsburgh Penguins ended their series against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday with a 8-5 win in Game 6. They will play the winner of the Capitals-Columbus Blue Jackets series.

Because of course they will.

The Penguins have beaten the Capitals in the second round in each of the past two seasons. The series went six games in 2016 and seven in 2017.

Washington’s biggest rival has been a thorn in the side of the Caps throughout the team’s history. Washington and Pittsburgh have met in the postseason 10 times. Only once have the Caps come out victorious, in 1994.

Pittsburgh has won five Stanley Cups in their history and each time, they had to beat the Caps in the playoffs to do it.

The emergence of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin helped to reignite the Washington-Pittsburgh rivalry, but that too has been one sided. Crosby has won three Stanley Cups while Ovechkin has never advanced past the second round.

Before you despair, however, consider this. Coming into the season, no one knew what to expect from the Capitals. Expectations were low. Somehow, Washington managed to overcome the loss of several players in the offseason and managed to win the Metropolitan Division.

In a season in which the Caps have already defied expectations, perhaps this will be the year they finally get past Pittsburgh and advance to the conference final. Maybe? Please?

First things first, they still need one more win against Columbus. Game 6 will be Monday at 7:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

MORE CAPITALS:
How the Caps stymied Artemi Panarin
Nick Backstrom's Game 5 heroics, explained
Capitals' PK unit the series difference-maker
John Tortorella makes Game 7 proclamation