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Caps make 17 cuts Sunday, pare roster to 36

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Caps make 17 cuts Sunday, pare roster to 36

The Capitals have made another significant round of cuts, reassigning 16 players to AHL Hershey and releasing another.

Among the players headed to the Bears are: forwards John Albert, Mathias Bau, Chris Bourque, Dustin Gazley, Hampus Gustafsson, Tim McGauley, Garrett Mitchell, Mason Mitchell and Wayne Simpson; defensemen Kristofers Bindulis, Connor Hobbs, Tommy Hughes, Lucas Johansen, Hubert Labrie; and goalies Adam Carlson and Vitek Vanecek.

The club also released forward Stephen Collins.

The highest profile cuts were Johansen, the team's first round pick in 2016, and Hobbs. The Caps have high hopes for the young blue liners, but it’s obvious both will benefit from some seasoning in the minor leagues as they make the leap from junior to the pro ranks.

Hershey’s training opens on Monday.

After taking Sunday off, the Caps will return to practice on Monday with a roster of 36 players—and three preseason games left to sort out the position battles.  

Forwards Riley Barber, Travis Boyd, Alex Chiasson, Tyler Graovac, Liam O’Brien, Anthony Peluso, Zach Sill, Devante Smith-Pelly, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana and Nathan Walker are left battling for the three available jobs up front.

Meanwhile, defensemen Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos, Jyrki Jokipakka, Tyler Lewington, Aaron Ness, Jonas Siegenthaler and Colby Williams are competing for the two open spots on the backend.

Although some players, such as Chiasson and Walker, have already begun to separate themselves from the others, you can expect the competition to intensify over the next week. The Caps host the Devils on Wednesday, then play at the Hurricanes on Friday and at the Blues on Sunday.

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4 reasons the Caps beat the Bruins

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USA TODAY Sports

4 reasons the Caps beat the Bruins

The Capitals just can't seem to lose to the Boston Bruins. The Caps extended their win streak over the Bruins to 11 games on Thursday thanks to their 5-3 win in Boston.

Here's how the Caps extended the streak.

Braden Holtby, especially in the first and second period

Here is one where the box score won't tell the whole story. Braden Holtby gave up three goals on 37 shots. Looking at that, you may think to yourself that he was good, but not great. Let's be clear, Holtby was great in this game, especially early. The Bruins were buzzing in the first and second period—Washington was outshot 13-3 in the second—yet after 40 minutes Washington held a 2-1 lead. Holtby was brilliant allowing the Caps to take control of the game.

RELATED: CHECK OUT TARIK'S 3 STARS OF THE GAME

Finally solving Boston's penalty kill

The Bruins entered Thursday's game with the 3rd best penalty kill in the NHL. Washington failed to score on any of its first three power play opportunities in the first period so they changed things up. In the Caps' normal power play, there is some movement, but the setup is largely based on positioning. Players have spots they are supposed to be in and their movement is largely restricted to their specific areas. That changed in the second period. The players cycled frequently and managed to catch Boston's penalty killers off guard. Instead of playing the wall like he usually does, Backstrom was in front of the net for the easy tip-in off a pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Rookies

Jakub Vrana scored one of the prettiest goals you will see this season as he split the defense and turned what looked like a normal play into a breakaway. In the third period, the ice began tilting in Boston's favor, but Christian Djoos slammed the door shut. Djoos took a pass at the blue line and had room to skate. He drove in, deked around Anders Bjork and set up Alex Chiasson beautifully right on the tape for the goal to make it 3-1.

MORE CAPITALS: CHECK OUT THE LATEST CAPITALS FACEOFF PODCAST

Alex Chiasson

Chiasson not only scored off of the great setup by Djoos, but he also was able to turn a blocked shot into a breakaway shorthanded goal. The Caps entered the third period up 2-1. Chiasson scored the next two to make it 4-1 and really iced the game away.

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Tarik's 3 stars: Caps make it 11 straight against Boston

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USA TODAY Sports

Tarik's 3 stars: Caps make it 11 straight against Boston

The Caps simply don’t lose against the Bruins. Not with Barry Trotz as head coach, anyway.

On Thursday night, Nicklas Backstrom and Co. extended their dominance vs. the B’s to 11 straight victories thanks to a 5-3 decision at TD Garden. The winning streak dates back to 2014, Trotz’s first behind the Washington bench.

Overall, the Caps have now won nine of their last 11 games. Brad Marchand and the Bruins, meantime, lost for the first time in four games.

RELATED: LISTEN TO THE LATEST CAPITALS FACEOFF PODCAST

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Alex Chiasson, Capitals

The winger struck twice in the third period, including a shorty, to put the game on ice. Chiasson gave the Caps a 3-1 lead when he whacked in his own rebound following a setup slick pass from Christian Djoos.

No. 39 then sealed the victory on the penalty kill, blocking a shot and taking off on a breakaway. At the net, he flipped a backhander over Anton Khudobin for his first two-goal game of the season and second multi-point performance.

Chiasson now has six goals on the season, including five in the last 15 games.  

2- Jakub Vrana, Capitals

Late in a scoreless opening frame, No. 13 controlled the puck in the neutral zone, turned on the afterburners, split the Boston defense and sniped a shot over Khudobin to put the Caps up 1-0.

The goal was Vrana’s 10th of the year and 6thin the past 11 games. It also marked the fifth time Vrana this season scored Washington’s first goal of the game. (We won’t mention that he was in the penalty box for the Bruins’ goal).

MORE CAPITALS: THE CAPS HAVE COME A LONG WAY IN THE LAST MONTH

3-Braden Holtby, Capitals

As I’ve said on many occasions, Holtby (34 saves) could be one of the Caps’ stars every night, especially after victories. Against the Bruins, though, he might have been the best player on the ice when the outcome was still in doubt. His best sequence came late in the opening period. First he made a point-blank stop on David Krejci and, moments later, he used a perfectly-timed poke check on Patrice Bergeron. Vrana put the Caps up 1-0 a short while later.

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