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Are Backstrom, Orpik nearing return to Caps?


Are Backstrom, Orpik nearing return to Caps?

Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (hip surgery) and defenseman Brooks Orpik (wrist surgery) could be cleared for non-contact practices in the next day or two, Capitals coach Barry Trotz said on Tuesday.

“I don’t have the authority to make that decision, but it looks like it’s getting closer to that,” Trotz said. “Backy has been skating very well in controlled conditions and once you get into practice you’ve got to avoid people a little bit and we have to see how he reacts to that.”

Backstrom, 27 underwent hip surgery on May 27 and has been skating under the direction of Capitals strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish for the past three weeks. He has said his progress is going well and will return only when he is 100 percent healthy.

Orpik, 35, underwent wrist surgery on July 28 and has begun taking light shots. Trotz said he hoped for Orpik to play in at least one preseason game, but if Backstrom and Orpik do not begin practicing until Friday (the team is off on Thursday) the chances of either of them playing Friday against the Bruins or Sunday against the Islanders are minimal.

The Caps open the regular season on Oct. 10 at home against the New Jersey Devils.

In other injury news, forward Chris Brown is expected to be sidelined the next few weeks with a hand injury. Brown was competing for the role of 13th forward for the Caps. He had no points in two preseason games.

Meanwhile, Trotz said forwards Marcus Johansson (back) and Michael Latta (lower body) are expected to return to the lineup Wednesday night when the Caps visit the Carolina Hurricanes in their fifth of seven preseason games. Trotz said Latta “is fine” and Johansson “should be fine,” but team will bring an extra forward and defenseman to Raleigh just in case.

Brown’s injury, combined with Backstrom’s possible return, could throw a wrench into the Caps’ ability to sign Derek Roy. Because Brown was injured during training camp and spent 42 days on the Caps’ roster last season, a portion of his $575,000 NHL salary will count against the Capitals’ salary cap.

According to, the Caps are currently $236,541 under the salary cap.

The team would add another $950,000 to that salary space if they decide to assign Justin Peters to Hershey, which, theoretically, would give them enough cap room to sign Roy.

“We have limited cap space,” Trotz said, “and as you get closer to the trade deadline, $600,000 in cap space is worth $1.8 (million, prorated) because of the number of days left (in the season). As coaches, we want to win today. As management, you look at the big picture. That will be a decision based on communication and understanding. But we’re not quite there yet.”

MORE CAPITALS: Caps send defenseman to Hershey, await 10 more cuts

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

The Washington Capitals had not beaten the Dallas Stars at home since 2006, Alex Ovechkin's second season in the NHL. That streak ended on Tuesday in a 4-3 Caps win.

Here's how the Caps were finally able to down Dallas in Washington.

Oshie still hot

After going 19 straight games without a goal, T.J. Oshie has been red-hot of late with four goals in his last four games. He scored Washington’s first goal in what would become a three-goal period for the Caps as they battled back from a 1-0 deficit into a 3-3 tie through 40 minutes. Oshie also added an assist as he won a power play faceoff that John Carlson fed to Alex Ovechkin for the goal.


Ovechkin victimizing his favorite target

You knew Ovechkin would score given he was playing against one of his favorite targets. With his second period goal, Ovechkin now has 22 goals against Kari Lehtonen in his career, tied with Henrik Lundqvist for the most goals he has scored on any netminder. Lehtonen has not been in the Eastern Conference since the 2008-09 season. When he goes to sleep at night, Ovechkin is who he sees in his nightmares.

The Carlson-Klingberg duel

Carlson and John Klingberg entered Tuesday’s game each with 59 points, tied for the league lead in points among defensemen. Carlson downplayed the matchup both before and after the game, but it was clear that both players were playing at another level all game long. While both players tallied two points on the night, you have to give the win to Carlson as he had the most significant point, a game-winning goal in the third period.


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Tarik's 3 Stars: Ovechkin further cements his place in history

Tarik's 3 Stars: Ovechkin further cements his place in history

Alex Ovechkin further cemented his place in NHL history, John Carlson stayed hot and Braden Holtby was good when called upon as the Caps downed the Stars, 4-3, at Capital One Arena on Tuesday night.

The victory was Washington’s fifth in the past six games. It also marked the Caps’ first win over Dallas in D.C. since 2006.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Alex Ovechkin, Capitals

Ovechkin scored his 44th goal of the season and the 602nd of his career in the second period to give the Caps a short-lived 3-2 edge in the second period.

The goal put Ovi back atop the league as he seeks a seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy. It also pushed him past Jari Karri and into sole possession of 19th place on the NHL’s all-time list. Ovechkin has now victimized Kari Lehtonen 22 times, which is tied for the most goals he’s scored against a single netminder. (Henrik Lundqvist has also given up 22 goals to No. 8). Ovi also had a couple of secondary helpers.

2-John Carlson, Capitals

Carlson scored the game-winner 4:59 with left to play, blasting a one-timer past Lehtonen to put the Caps ahead 4-3.

Carlson also notched an assist, which allowed him to stay even with Dallas’ John Klingberg. Klingberg had two assists. Both players ended the game with 61 points—tied for the most among all NHL defensemen.    

3-Alexander Radulov, Stars

From his first shift, it was apparent that Radulov was determined to leave his mark on the game. And he did just that, recording a goal, an assist and boarding minor that bloodied Caps defenseman Michal Kempny. Radulov’s goal—a redirection of a John Klingberg shot—was his 26th and it evened the score, 2-2, in the second period.

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