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3 bold predictions: Can the Caps halt Columbus' win streak?

3 bold predictions: Can the Caps halt Columbus' win streak?

The stakes will be high on Thursday as the Columbus Blue Jackets will look to make history and extend their win streak to 17 games. All that stands in their way of tying the longest win streak in NHL history is the Washington Capitals.

 Here are three bold predictions for Thursday’s game (7 p.m., CSN).

1. The Caps will get at least 35 shots on goal

When facing a hot goalie, Washington has a tendency to start throwing pucks on net as much as possible. Against Keith Kinkaid and the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 29, for example, the Caps fired 44 shots on goal. There’s no hotter goalie in the NHL right now than Sergei Bobrovsky who has won his last 14 straight starts. Despite how well Columbus is playing, they remain in the middle of the pack in terms of shots allowed per game at 29.8. The Caps will get plenty of rubber on net, but that won’t necessarily be a good thing as Washington usually starts firing perimeter shots in these situations rather than setting up better opportunities.

WATCH TONIGHT'S GAME LIVE VIA CSN'S LIVE STREAM PAGE, COVERAGE STARTS AT 6:30 P.M.

2. Zach Werenski and Seth Jones will combine for more points than all six of the Caps’ defensemen

Washington has been getting good offensive contributions from the blue line lately, but the Blue Jackets have been more effective with Werenski and Jones. In what is his first NHL season, Werenski already has 25 points, five more than the Caps’ leading scorer on defense, John Carlson. Werenski and Jones have a combined 13 goals this season, while all seven Caps’ defenders who have played this season have only 12.

3. Alex Ovechkin will have a multi-point game with at least one goal

Ovechkin is a player who is at his best when the lights are brightest. Yes, the Caps have a shoddy record when it comes to the postseason, but Ovechkin is 3rd among active skaters in goals per game in the playoffs and 5th in points per game. Let me be clear, there is no substitution for playoff hockey. I’m not saying Thursday’s game will match the intensity or the feel of a playoff game. It won't. But one thing is clear, Ovechkin steps up in the biggest moments, even if he isn’t always able to carry the team with him.

MORE CAPITALS: Orpik among the many Capitals amped up for Jackets

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Capitals are shaking up the coaching staff in Hershey

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The Hershey Bears

Capitals are shaking up the coaching staff in Hershey

The contracts of Hershey Bears head coach Troy Mann and Bears assistant coach Ryan Murphy will not be renewed for next season, the Capitals announced Wednesday. Hershey finished in last place in the Atlantic Division and did not qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

“Troy is a dedicated and hard-working coach and we appreciate all he has done for the Hershey Bears,” said Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan. “At this point, we feel a fresh approach and a change in leadership is needed in order for us to continue to develop our young players towards the next level and for success at the AHL level. We also want to thank Ryan for his contributions to the Hershey Bears and wish him all the best.”

Just two seasons ago, the Bears under Mann were playing the Calder Cup Finals where they lost in four games to the Lake Erie Monsters. Mann served as an assistant coach for Hershey from 2009-2013 and was hired as the head coach in 2014. He led the Bears to a record of 162-102-22-18 during his tenure, good for sixth all-time among Hershey coaches in wins.

Mann coached several current Capitals players in Hershey including Travis Boyd, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana, Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos and Philipp Grubauer, among others. Hershey also currently boasts several of the Caps' biggest prospects such as Lucas Johansen, Connor Hobbs, Riley Barber and Jonas Siegenthaler.

Murphy was with the Bears for all four years of Mann's tenure. He started in video development in Mann's first season and was promoted to assistant coach the following year.

“We’d like to thank Troy Mann and Ryan Murphy for their contributions to the Hershey Bears organization,” said Hershey vice president of hockey operations, Bryan Helmer. “While we are looking to move our hockey club forward, today is certainly an emotional day. I had the pleasure of working with both Troy and Ryan behind the bench for two seasons, and consider them to be great people. We wish both all the best in future endeavors.”

Coaching in the AHL is a tough job as coaches are expected to bring the team success while also developing their NHL club's prospects. There are times when the two goals do not necessarily line up which can make it a difficult balance.

Considering how important it is to develop talent from within, AHL coaches are very significant parts of an organization. Getting the right guy in charge of Hershey won't just boost the AHL team, but will help the Caps down the line with developed players.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: And so we meet again

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: And so we meet again

We all knew this was coming, right?

The Capitals will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs for the third consecutive season and for the 11th time in franchise history. Washington has only beaten Pittsburgh once in their previous 10 series. This season gives them the opportunity to get over the second round and Pittsburgh hump once and for all.

Will this year be different? Will the Caps finally take down their arch nemesis? Will they finally advance to the conference final?

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps-Penguins matchup in the Capitals Faceoff Podcast.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page