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Capitals already looking at plans for World Cup players

Capitals already looking at plans for World Cup players

Now that the World Championships are over and Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and Andre Burakovsky have returned to their offseason homes, Capitals players will refrain from playing meaningful hockey until mid-September when the 2016 World Cup of Hockey gets under way in Toronto.

Just before the tournament, Verizon Center will host a pair of exhibition games featuring four of the World Cup teams. Tickets went on sale Thursday and are available as a two-event package featuring Team USA vs. Team Finland on Tuesday, Sept. 13, and Team Sweden vs. Team Europe on Wednesday, Sept. 14. Both games will begin at 7 p.m.

The four teams will also practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington from Sept. 12-15. Tickets for the games are available online only on WashingtonCaps.com and Ticketmaster.com.

Nicklas Backstrom (Sweden), T.J. Oshie, John Carlson (USA), Braden Holtby (Canada), Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and Orlov (Russia) were selected in the preliminary round to represent their countries in the World Cup. Other Capitals, like defensemen Karl Alzner and Matt Niskanen, could be added to rosters. Capitals head coach Barry Trotz will also serve as an assistant coach for Team Canada.

The World Cup features teams from Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden, Team Europe, Team North America and the United States and runs from Sept. 17 through Oct. 1.

Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said he’s already had “a couple discussions” with his coaching staff about how the team would like to integrate their stars into training camp and the preseason.  

“We’ve got a lot of guys there that will be playing some intense hockey at a high level early,” MacLellan told NHL Radio Network. “How we incorporate them into the season and get them some rest and get them mentally focused for the start of the regular season might be difficult.

“It depends on how the tournament plays itself out and how intense and emotional it ends up being. We’re trying to figure out ways we can give these guys rest and get them best prepared for the season.”

Because of the World Cup, all 30 NHL teams will have a five-day bye-week built into their 2016-17 schedules. The bye weeks will be scheduled sometime during the months of January or February and players will not have to report for practice until after 4 p.m. on the fifth day of that break (if they have a game on the sixth day). If the players don't have a game on the sixth day, they would have the entire fifth day off.

RELATED: TEN OFFSEASON QUESTIONS FACING THE CAPS

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Tarik's 3 stars: Caps come up empty on an emotional night in Florida

Tarik's 3 stars: Caps come up empty on an emotional night in Florida

Vincent Trocheck scored on the power play with 18.7 seconds remaining and the Panthers escaped with a 3-2 victory on an emotional night in Sunrise, Fla.

Trocheck’s goal was Florida’s second in the final four minutes…and the Caps were left to lament yet another incomplete performance. Washington has now lost three of its last four games and fell to 4-5-2 in February.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Vincent Trocheck, Panthers

Trocheck did what Trocheck does in the third period: The Florida forward scored a clutch goal in the final seconds, redirecting a Jonathan Huberdeau shot through Brooks Orpik’s legs and past Braden Holtby.

Eller was in the penalty box when Trocheck scored his 13th third period goal of the season.

2-Andre Burakovsky, Capitals

After losing a goal to Eller in the first period, Burakovsky made sure he didn’t go home empty-handed. No. 65 scored on the power play in the second period to put the Caps ahead 2-1.

It was Burakovsky’s third goal in six games. He also earned a secondary assist on Eller’s redirection score.   

3-Braden Holtby, Capitals

Following a handful of un-Holtby-like performances lately, Holtbeast roared Thursday night at BB&T Center. He made at least one game-saving stop in each period: an arm save on Trocheck in the first period; a pad stop on Denis Malgin in the second and another extended pad stop on Evgenii Dadonov in the third. Holtby finished with 30 stops.

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

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4 reasons why the Panthers beat the Caps

4 reasons why the Panthers beat the Caps

The Caps looked like they had the win in hand as they led 2-1 late in the third period, but things went off the rails in the final four minutes in a 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers

Here's how the Caps lost.

An emotional start for Robert Luongo

Before the game, Roberto Luongo took the mic during an emotional tribute to the victims of the tragic Stoneman Douglas school shooting. As a writer, it was hard to get into the game after that. I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for Luongo to focus to actually play in the game. But he did. He started off very well, making several strong saves in the first period. Washington scored late in the opening period after an offensive cycle of over a minute that completely wore out the Panthers' skaters. Otherwise, Luongo was brilliant turning aside 13 of the 14 shots he faced in the opening 20 minutes.

Another shaky start for Braden Holtby

This was the best game we have seen from Braden Holtby in a while as he made a number of phenomenal saves in the second and third period. In the first, however, he continued to struggle. Maxim Mamin scored his first career NHL goal and point as a puck trickled through Holtby and Mamin was able to slam it home. Holtby was dealing with a screen, but reacted late to the initial shot and late to Mamin.

Aleksander Barkov splitting Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson

With a 2-1 lead late in the third, the Caps looked like they had control. But with less than four minutes remaining, Aleksander Barkov was able to split Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson to set up Nick Bjugstad for the game-tying goal. Ovechkin was backchecking, Carlson stepped up on him and then...nothing. It looked as if both players thought the other would take Barkov and Ovechkin let up at the same time Carlson skated past giving Barkov a lane to the net.

A late penalty to Lars Eller

With the game tied late, the Caps were exerting their will in the offensive zone with the cycle that had been dominant all game long...and then Lars Eller tried to set a pick on Bjugstad, knocking him to the ice. It was an obvious interference call with just 42 seconds remaining in the game. Florida would score 22 seconds later to deny Washington not only the win, but a point as well.