New Capitals defenseman Jack Hillen was a sophomore at the Academy of Holy Angelshigh school in Richfield, Minn.,when his home room teacher informed the class that the U.S. was under attack on themorning of Sept. 11, 2001.You didnt believe it, Hillen said Tuesday after his firstworkout with the Capitals at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. The first time I saw itI thought, No way, that had to be an accident. Then you see the buildingfall, and here comes the second one. It was no accident. Over the next couple hours and the next couple days yourealize, man, the U.S. had some enemies that before that day you just neverthought about.Caps defenseman John Carlson has a similar memory of theattacks. He was in seventh grade and living in Colonia,New Jersey, a 40-minute train ride from Manhattan, when helearned of the attacks.They didnt tell us really what was going on, Carlson said.They tried to hold it back at first, but I remember kids with parents whoworked in the city were leaving school early. I remember getting home from school that day and seeing my momand my aunt talking about it and I realized this was a tragedy. Being from Jersey, it was closer to home because friends and familywere all affected by what happened. It was a terrible, terrible thing.Capitals left wing Jason Chimera was a member of theEdmonton Oilers and was preparing for training camp in Sherwood Park, Alberta when he saw thefirst reports of the terrorist attacks on the U.S.,which continued with plane crashes into the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa.It was like a movie, he said, a bad, bad movie. It waslike, This is not real, is it? The guys minds were elsewhere, thats forsure.Eleven years later, Hillen said its important to rememberthe hundreds of lives that were lost on that day and the families the victimsleft behind.My heart still goes out to everybody that was in thosebuildings and on those planes, he said. The courageousness of the people whowere on Flight 93 that stopped it from going into the White House. Its a toughday. I feel bad.
The Caps signed University of North Dakota forward Shane Gersich, a fifth round selection in 2014 and one of the organization’s top prospects, on Friday morning, the team announced.
Gersich, a left shot who is listed at 5-11, 175-pounds, has already joined the team in Montreal, where the Caps play the Canadiens at Bell Centre on Saturday night.
His contract, which begins this season, carries an average annual value of $925,000.
It’s unclear when Gersich will make his NHL debut, but it could happen at some point in the Caps’ final eight games before the playoffs.
RELATED: HOW THE CAPS BEAT THE RED WINGS
NBC Sports Washington has been told that the primary objective for Gersich in the coming weeks is to get his first taste of the NHL by observing—and practicing alongside—his new teammates in Washington. If the opportunity to get him into the lineup presents itself, then it’s possible he’ll suit up.
The 21-year-old just completed his third season at UND. Here are Gersich’s numbers from junior and college, courtesy of www.hockeydb.com.
At UND, the smooth-skating and skilled Gersich also produced this memorable goal vs. Denver:
Gersich has been assigned jersey No. 63 in Washington, according to the Caps’ website.
The addition of Gersich and subsequent subtraction of Travis Boyd, who was reassigned to Hershey on Friday morning, leaves the Caps with 14 forwards on the roster.
“I think he did a great job at rookie camp,” Caps GM Brian MacLellan said of Gersich in July. “He was one of our best players, if not the best player, at camp. Really happy about the way he’s progressed and where we picked him. I think Ross Mahoney did a great job with that pick.”
The Stanley Cup Playoffs are right around the corner and there is still a lot to be decided.
The Metropolitan Division is going to come right down to the wire as each team seemingly continues to win and put the pressure on the first place Capitals.
With just over two weeks remaining in the regular season, the playoff matchups for the first round of the NHL playoffs are still up in the air with only five points separating the top four teams in the Metro. Washington is in good position with a four-point cushion between themselves and the second place Pittsburgh Penguins.
With both teams meeting on April 1, however, the Caps are still a long way off from clinching the division and earning home ice in the first round.
RELATED: HOW THE CAPS BEAT THE RED WINGS
2018 NHL STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF BRACKET PROJECTION
Eastern Conference (As of Friday 3/23):
1M Washington Capitals (93pts) vs. WC1 Philadelphia Flyers (88pts)
2M Pittsburgh Penguins (89pts) vs. 3M Columbus Blue Jackets (89pts)
1A Tampa Bay Lightning (106pts) vs. WC2 New Jersey Devils (82pts)
2A Boston Bruins (100pts) vs. 3A Toronto Maple Leafs (95pts)
Western Conference (As of Friday 3/23):
1C Nashville Predators (106pts) vs. WC1Anaheim Ducks (88pts)
2C Winnipeg Jets (98pts) vs. 3C Minnesota Wild (90pts)
1P Las Vegas Golden Knights (100pts) vs. WC2 Colorado Avalanche (88pts)
2P San Jose Sharks (93pts) vs. 3P Los Angeles Kings (89pts)
POWER RANKINGS: CAPITALS SLIDING DOWN THE HOME STRETCH
Washington has won only one out of four games against the Philadelphia Flyers this season. That's not an ideal first-round matchup for Washington, but there is still time for the Flyers to climb and overtake Columbus or Pittsburgh in the standings.
What seems unlikely to happen is for New Jersey or Florida to pass Philadelphia. While things remain close near the top of the standings, there seems to be a growing divide between the top-four teams in the Metropolitan Division and the two teams battling for the final remaining spot in the playoffs.
The Flyers may be in fourth place in the division, but they still boast a healthy six-point lead over the Devils who sit in the second wild card.
If we assume New Jersey and Florida will not be able to climb to any postseason position, but the second wild card, that makes the three most likely candidates to face Washington in the first round Pittsburgh, Columbus and Philadelphia.
2018 NHL EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF PICTURE
1. Washington Capitals (93 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
2. Pittsburgh Penguins (89 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
3. Columbus Blue Jackets (89 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)
1. Tampa Bay Lightning (106 points, 74 GP, 45 ROW)
2. Boston Bruins (100 points, 72 GP, 42 ROW)
3. Toronto Maple Leafs (95 points, 74 GP, 37 ROW)
WC1. Philadelphia Flyers (88 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)
WC2. New Jersey Devils (82 points, 73 GP, 32 ROW)
Still in the Hunt:
Florida Panthers (81points, 72 GP, 34 ROW)
2018 NHL WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF PICTURE
1. Nashville Predators (106 points, 73 GP, 43 ROW)
2. Winnipeg Jets (98 points, 73 GP, 42 ROW)
3. Minnesota Wild (90 points, 73 GP, 38 ROW)
1. Las Vegas Golden Knights (100 points, 74 GP, 44 ROW)
2. San Jose Sharks (93 points, 74 GP, 38 ROW)
3. Los Angeles Kings (89 points, 75 GP, 39 ROW)
WC1. Anaheim Ducks (88 points, 74 GP, 34 ROW)
WC2. Colorado Avalanche (88 points, 74 GP, 39 ROW)
Still in the hunt:
St. Louis Blues (85 points, 72 GP, 34 ROW)
MORE CAPITALS: TOP 3 PLAYERS FROM CAPS-RED WINGS