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Capitals' Karl Alzner makes strides, but sits out conditioning test Friday

Capitals' Karl Alzner makes strides, but sits out conditioning test Friday

Karl Alzner looked good in drills on the first day of training camp, but the Capitals defenseman was held out of a grueling, timed conditioning test for precautionary reasons.

Alzner is in the final stages of recovering from a sports hernia and a groin muscle injury.

“With the intensity of that first practice and the [conditioning] skate, when you're that tired you just start to stride,” the 27-year-old said Friday. “Sometimes, it’s not pretty the strides that you take. To lessen the risk of something happening, just no need to do it. So that's something I can do further down the line.”

Alzner had surgery in early June and returned to the ice just a few weeks later to begin ramping up for camp.

“Practice felt good,” Alzner said after the 90-minute session. “I'm pretty close. We've got to work on some leg conditioning now because that's something you really notice when it's not up to par, that starts to burn pretty fast and that's something that I can start to do now."

Associate coach Todd Reirden, who is filling in for Barry Trotz, said he liked what he saw from Alzner. (Trotz is in Toronto at the World Cup of Hockey serving as an assistant with Team Canada.)

“I did like how he looked in the drills,” Reirden said. “A couple of drills involved defending rushes—some one-on-ones and some two-on-twos—that was meant to push the pace of practice today. But we just felt, at this point, to do the skate test this early for him in camp after a hard practice was probably not the smartest thing."

Reirden also indicated that Alzner will play in the preseason and should be good to go for the regular season opener in Pittsburgh on Oct. 13. Assuming Alzner stays on target, that will allow him to extend his franchise record iron man streak, which currently sits at 458 consecutive games played.

“It’s nothing to be worried about or anything like that,” Reirden continued of Alzner sitting out the conditioning test. “It’s just being smart about what’s going on for him this summer.”

There are no restrictions, Alzner said, but he also acknowledged that he can't push too hard, too soon.

“The way the injury works is you work it, then back it off,” Alzner said. “So that's what I've been doing. If I feel like it needs to be backed off then I'll back off because the important thing is the beginning of October. We're just going to watch it but I went back to back days Monday, Tuesday this week and I felt fine. I didn't practice as hard as I had to today, so tomorrow will be pretty telling, but I think as of right now I feel pretty good.”

He added: “If I had to play right now, I'd be able to play. The one thing that we don't know for sure is how I'm going to bounce back the next day so that's something we'll find out until we actually start, but as of right now if there's a game going on tonight I'd be able to play.”

Alzner said his biggest challenge when he returns to game action could be a mental one.

“I'm just more nervous just to start in the first game back, whether it's exhibition or the start of the season—you just have a little bit of nerves because you want to feel good,” he said. “You want to make sure you're reacting good and playing good. My nerves come from that. From an injury, I'm not really nervous about it. We're doing everything that we can do in terms of rehab and strength, and that's good.”

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Game 5 Capitals vs. Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 5 Capitals vs. Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Alex Ovechkin said the Caps would return to Washington with a tied series. The Caps captain is a man of his word as the Caps won both Game 3 and Game 4 to even up the series at two games apiece.

John Tortorella had no answers after seeing his Columbus Blue Jackets fall in Game 4, but he will have to figure things out quickly as the series shifts back to Washington for a pivotal Game 5.

The Caps return home with two straight wins and all the momentum. There's just one problem: No one seemingly can win at home.

What: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, Round 1, Game 5

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

When: 3:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 will be broadcast on NBC.

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 on NBC Sports' live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

The Capitals take on the Blue Jackets in Game 5 on Saturday, April 21 at 3:00 p.m. ET in Washington. The series is tied 2-2.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME ON?

Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 will be broadcast on NBC. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 2:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 2:30 p.m. Tune back to NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 6:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

2:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
2:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
3:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Blue Jackets on NBC
5:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
6:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Capitals-Blue Jackets Game 5 is available to stream live here through the NBC Sports live stream page.

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 Faceoff Podcast: Now it's a series

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Now it's a series

The Caps looked to be in real trouble after blowing leads and losing in overtime in both Game 1 and Game 2.

After two straight wins, however, Washington is in control against the Columbus Blue Jackets as the series returns to Washington, D.C. for Game 5. 

On the latest eipisode of the Capitals Faceoff Podcast, JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir talk about what changed for the Capitals between Game 2 and 3, as well as resetting their series predictions.

And as always, they answer several viewer questions.

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