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Caps camp is underway—and here's how they're lined up

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Caps camp is underway—and here's how they're lined up

As Capitals training camp begins in Arlington, here are the initial forward combinations and defensive pairs—plus a few observations about how Coach Barry Trotz has everyone lined up.

  • The young defensemen the Caps want to get a good look at are all paired with veterans. Lucas Johansen is playing alongside John Carlson; Madison Bowey is with Dmitry Orlov; Christian Djoos is with Matt Niskanen; Connor Hobbs is with Brooks Orpik; and Jonas Siegenthaler is with Taylor Chorney. It's probably worth noting that Johansen opens in the vacant spot to the left of Carlson.   
  • The spotlight in the coming weeks will shine brightest on Jakub Vrana, who is starting on the best line. The 21-year-old winger is skating on the right side of Nicklas Backstrom and Andre Burakovsky.
  • Alex Chiasson, who is on a PTO, is being centered by Evgeny Kuznetsov. Again, you never want to read too much into camp lines on Day 1, but it appears they want to get a good look at the potential bottom-six winger.

RELATED: WHY BRADEN HOLTBY IS THE CAPS' MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER

Here are the groupings in their entirety:

WHITE

Forwards

Ovechkin – Eller – Marthinsen

O’Brien – Beagle – Peluso

Bau Hansen – Pilon – Oshie

Riat – Gustafsson – Gazley

Jeannot

Defense

Orpik – Hobbs

Djoos – Niskanen

Zaitsev – Williams

Goalies

Grubauer

Copley

RED

Forwards

Burakovsky – Backstrom – Vrana

Smith-Pelly – Stephenson – Simpson, W.

Malenstyn – Sill – Wilson

Mitchell, M. – Simpson, M. – Elgestal

                                                     Collins

Defense  

Orlov – Bowey

Siegenthaler – Chorney

Bindulis – Lewington

Goalies

Holtby

Vanecek

BLUE

Forwards

Albert – Kuznetsov – Chiasson

Walker – Graovac – Barber

Connolly – Boyd – Mitchell, G.

Baillargeon – McGauley – Bourque

Semchuk                               Devito

Defense

Johansen – Carslon

Hughes – Ness

Jokipakka – Labrie

Goalies

Milner

Carlson

Morrison

MORE CAPITALS: OVECHKIN CONCEDES HE WILL NOT PLAY IN 2018 OLYMPICS

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All signs point to T.J. Oshie returning to the Caps' lineup in Dallas

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USA TODAY Sports

All signs point to T.J. Oshie returning to the Caps' lineup in Dallas

T.J. Oshie is back.

Almost, anyway.

The Caps’ star winger practiced with his teammates on Monday morning, marking the first time he’s been a full participant in a team setting since getting his head smashed into the boards by San Jose’s Joe Thornton on Dec. 4.

SEE THE LATEST NHL POWER RANKINGS HERE

Oshie resumed skating on Dec. 10 and has steadily been ramping up his level of intensity since.    

If Oshie receives final clearance from doctors, he’ll suit up in Dallas on Tuesday night. And, as you might expect, he’s pretty excited about the possibility.

“I felt great,” said Oshie, who noted that this was the fourth documented head injury of his career. “They’ve got me in pretty good shape while I’ve been away. I feel ready.”

Although Coach Barry Trotz said a decision on Oshie’s status won’t be made until Tuesday morning, the fact that he took his normal spot on the right side of the second line with Jakub Vrana and Evgeny Kuznetsov is a strong indication that he’s expected to face the Stars.

Oshie was also back in his usual spot on the first unit power play, where he still leads the team in goals on the man advantage (7), despite missing six games.

Getting a player with Oshie’s skill set back represents a boost for the Caps, who went 5-1-0 while he was sidelined. But, on the flip side, it also means someone who has been playing well will have to come out of the lineup.

“The whole team is playing pretty good hockey right now,” Oshie said. “On the team side, you feel bad that someone is playing good hockey and they’re going to have to sit out.”

He added: “Hopefully I don’t mess up the mojo, but selfishly I want to get back in there and join in on some of the fun.”

WAS KUZNETSOV TRYING TO SCORE ON HIS GAME-TYING GOAL?

The odd man out on Monday, based on line rushes anyway, was Devante Smith-Pelly, who has not missed a game after winning a spot in training camp.

Here’s what the forward combos looked like at Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

Ovechkin – Backstrom – Wilson
Vrana – Kuznetsov – Oshie
Connolly – Eller – Burakovsky
Stephenson – Beagle – Chiasson

So the plan appears to be for Oshie to bump Chiasson down to the fourth line into Smith-Pelly’s spot. 

With 13 healthy forwards, Trotz said deciding whom will sit out is going to be based on performance and/or role. But that doesn’t mean it’s always going to be an easy choice to make.

“If everybody's playing well,” he said, “I just have to make a tough decision, that’s all.”

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NHL Power Rankings: The Caps are overcoming all obstacles, even the loss of Oshie

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Power Rankings: The Caps are overcoming all obstacles, even the loss of Oshie

If you were to make a list of the players the Capitals could not afford to lose, chances are T.J. Oshie would be near the top of that list. Unfortunately, the Caps’ winger has missed the last six games due to an upper-body injury he suffered from a hit to the head by Joe Thornton.

Yet, even with Oshie out of the lineup the past six games, Washington has managed a 5-1-0 record.

SEE THIS WEEK’S NHL POWER RANKINGS HERE

Oshie is the undisputed energy leader of the Caps. He was considered so important, in fact, that a team with significant salary cap constraints still elected to re-sign him in the offseason to an eight-year, $46 million deal that carries a $5.75 million cap hit.

Oshie’s injury, however, has not cooled off the red-hot Caps who have now won 11 of their last 14 games. It is still clear the team is missing him—their 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders in which the Caps lacked any energy at all is evidence of that—but the way the team has been able to rally without him is impressive.

If Washington can win five out of six without Oshie, how much better will they be once he gets back into the lineup?

The Caps keep winning and that means they keep climbing in the NHL Power Rankings. See how high they climb in this week’s rankings here.