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Sunday Capitals Practice Report: Praise for the penalty kill

Sunday Capitals Practice Report: Praise for the penalty kill

The Capitals hit the ice at Capital One Arena for the very first time Saturday night and skated past the Canadiens 6-1, with Alex Ovechkin leading the way with his second consecutive hat trick.

There were no changes to the Capitals’ lines or D-pairs on Sunday in Arlington, where practice was a relatively quick one as the team scrambled to the airport for a charter flight to Tampa. Capitals vs. Lightning begins at 7:30 p.m. ET Monday night (NBCS Washington)

So here’s the lineup you can expect Monday night at Amalie Arena (based on rushes):

Capitals vs. Lightning Lineup: Forward Lines

Ovechkin – Kuznetsov – Vrana
Burakovsky – Backstrom – Oshie
Connolly – Eller – Chiasson
Walker – Beagle – Smith-Pelly
Extras: Graovac and Wilson

Capitals vs. Lightning Lineup: Defense Pairings

Orlov – Niskanen
Orpik – Carslon
Ness – Chorney
Extra: Djoos

Capitals vs Lightning Lineup: Goalies


Some notes, quotes and observations from Arlington:

  • One night after watching Walker make his debut and score a goal, his parents were in the stands at Kettler Capitals Iceplex taking in practice. Walker took the first rush with the fourth line, while Tyler Graovac rotated in, suggesting Walker stays in vs. the Lightning.
  • Asked if there’s any concern that Walker could drop off as many young players do during their first NHL stint, Coach Barry Trotz said: “No. That’s the foundation of his game, that he always brings it. That’s his personality. I haven’t seen him, in the whole time I’ve been around him, have a day where he doesn’t have some juice.”
  • Braden Holtby is off to a strong start, posting a 2-0-0 record, a .929 save percentage and a 2.40 goals against. But he’ll give up the net at some point this week so that backup Philipp Grubauer can get in, Trotz said. The Caps play at the Lightning on Monday, host the Penguins on Wednesday and then have back to back games at New Jersey and Philly on Friday and Saturday.
  • The penalty kill continues to perform well. In fact, the unit hasn’t surrendered a goal yet, having snuffed out all nine shorthanded situations the Caps have faced. Jay Beagle and Devante Smith-Pelly have seen more shorthanded ice time than any other Washington forwards. “It’s attention to detail,” Smith Pelly said. “We’re game-planning and doing what we need to do. Guys are blocking shots. And when stuff kinda breaks down, which is going to happen, Holts is there to close the door. So far so good.”
  • Trotz on the perfect PK: “The best penalty killer is your goaltender. We had some big [shot] blocks [Saturday]. Guys like Beagle. [T.J. Oshie] had a block. You talk about times when it breaks down and it looks like they’re going to get a good look… and then guys commit.”
  • The Lightning are off to a 1-1-0 start after earning a split with the Panthers. Trotz said he thinks the Bolts are one of the best teams in the league, despite missing the playoffs last season. “They had a horrible season in terms of injuries and they never really could pile up a long winning streak at the end when it was a little bit too late,” he said. “I think they are a hell of a hockey team. They have skill on all of their lines. They've got all world defensemen on the backend. Good goaltending. They have speed. A lot of good elements.”  

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Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal


Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

Defenseman Jakub Jerabek is really happy about the opportunity to play with the Washington Capitals, but it could have come at a better time. The trade came with his parents already on their way from the Czech Republic to visit him.

“It was crazy days past three days because I had my parents on the way to Montreal and they didn't know so it was a big surprise for them,” Jerabek told reporters Saturday after his first skate with the team.

A native of the Czech Republic, Jerabek signed his first NHL contract with the Montreal Canadiens in May 2017. After spending some time in the AHL and struggling to consistently earn a spot in the Canadiens’ lineup, he knew a trade was possible.

“My family, maybe we expected some trade. When its come with Caps and it was Washington, I was really happy.”


Jerabek said he came into the NHL with no expectations and was simply happy for the opportunity, but it is fair to wonder if he was not just the least bit frustrated with how he was utilized by Montreal.

For a player with experience playing for the national team, the Czech league and the KHL, getting only 25 games with a bad Montreal team seems a bit low.

“In first two weeks, I didn't know what's going on because the coaches just told me that I played well, but we just make some competition between the [defensemen] and that I have to wait for my next chance,” Jerabek said. “It was hard, but now I'm happy down here.”

Washington now offers a very different opportunity. In need of help on the blue line, Jeraebek has the chance to earn consistent playing time for a team on pace to reach the postseason.

Jerabek will not play in Saturday’s game against Buffalo, but he was hopeful he would be in the lineup for Monday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.


For now, Jerabek and head coach Barry Trotz are unclear as to what his ultimate role on the team will be. With eight defensemen now on the roster, Trotz cautioned any lineup decision could not be rushed because of the trickle-down effect it will have on the other players.

“You always look at chemistry and all that with your group depending how high that player goes up the lineup, it affects different people,” Trotz said. “In a forward group, if you get a guy that you all of a sudden stick on the first line, there's four other guys that are bumped down and one guy's bumped out.”

The addition of Jerabek, however, offers the Caps another defenseman who can quickly move the puck out of the defensive zone, something the team has struggled with immensely throughout the season. Though he shoots left, he also said he is comfortable playing on the right said and has played there regularly over the past few years. That provides the lineup with some flexibility on the third pair behind Matt Niskanen and John Carlson.

As for Jerabek’s parents, they will be arriving in Washington on Saturday.

“I tried to figure out the situation with them to get them to here and they will come today,” he said. “So I'm really happy.”

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Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread


Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Sabres will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Sabres game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.


The Capitals (34-20-7) take on the Sabres (18-32-11) Saturday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Capital One Arena.


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

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Sabres
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30


Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Sabres game:

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

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

Philipp Grubauer starts with Braden Holtby as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek


The Capitals-Panthers game, 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.


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.