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Capitals recall forward Chandler Stephenson from Hershey

Capitals recall forward Chandler Stephenson from Hershey

The Capitals recalled forward Chandler Stephenson from minor league Hershey on Saturday, the team announced.

There was no reason provided for the promotion, though it’s possible the move was made as a precaution. The Caps, who are carrying only 12 forwards, host the Flyers on Sunday and then immediately hit the road for a game in Pittsburgh. Assuming Stephenson travels, he’ll give the Caps an extra forward in case of injury or illness.

Stephenson, a third round pick in 2012, did not record a point in nine games with the Caps last season. He’s been hot in Hershey, though. The 22-year-old center has six goals and 17 assists in 36 games. In the past eight games, he’s got seven points (two goals, five assists).

“Stephenson, he’s the one guy that when you watch him play, he looks like an NHLer,” Bears Coach Troy Mann told two weeks ago in Hershey. “He skates like an NHLer. He’s got that size. I told Chandler that he doesn’t need to put up 80 points in the American Hockey League to make the NHL. But I certainly believe he is a 50-point guy in the [AHL] and can be a third line center in the NHL because he can skate, he can play power play, he can play penalty kill and he’s our best faceoff guy.”

Stephenson is the latest Bears’ forward to be rewarded with a call up this season, joining Liam O’Brien, Jakub Vrana, Paul Carey and Zach Sanford. 

MORE CAPITALS: Who's hot and who's not for the Capitals offense? 

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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

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Penguins will be without Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin for Game 1

Penguins will be without Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin for Game 1

As the Capitals and Penguins prepare to open their second-round series, significant injury news came out of Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Head coach Mike Sullivan informed the media that both Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin would not play in Game 1 due to injuries.

The fact that Hagelin would not be traveling with the team suggests that he will miss Game 2 as well, but that has not been confirmed. That also means that Malkin is at least a possibility for Game 2.

Malkin did not play in Game 6 against the Philadelphia Flyers after getting injured in a collision with Jakub Voracek in Game 5. Hagelin was injured in Game 6 on a big hit from Claude Giroux.

So when the series against Washington begins, Pittsburgh will be playing without two-thirds of its second line.

Malkin made a real push for the Hart Trophy this season with 42 goals and 98 points. He was a major factor in last season's Cup run with 28 points in 26 games and was gearing up for another big postseason with five points in his first five games.

But don't celebrate too much, Caps fans. It is not as if either loss will be crippling to Pittsburgh's offense.

Despite not having Malkin for the entire Game 6 and losing Hagelin midway through the second period, the Penguins still managed to put up eight goals on the Flyers in the series-clinching win.

Still, with scoring depth being such a strength for Pittsburgh, the Capitals need to take advantage. The Penguins will be without one of the best players in the NHL and that makes Game 1 crucial. Washington has gone down 0-2 in each of their past two playoff series including last year against Pittsburgh. They lost that series in seven games. They need to have a better start this year and with no Malkin or Hagelin for Game 1, this may be a must-win for the Caps.

Riley Sheahan and Dominik Simon skated with Phil Kessel on the second line at practice on Wednesday and it is a good bet that is how the second line will remain for Game 1. That way, Pittsburgh can keep its third line of Conor Sheary, Derick Brassard and Bryan Rust line together which has been very effective.