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Five things we learned about Caps in preseason


Five things we learned about Caps in preseason

The Capitals concluded their seven-game preseason with an impressive 6-2 beat-down of the New York Islanders on Sunday night, giving them a near-perfect 5-0-2 record in the exhibition season. The Detroit Red Wings (6-0-2) and Anaheim Ducks (5-0-1) were the only other NHL teams to go without a regulation loss in the preseason.

“There’s always things to work on and do better,” Capitals defenseman John Carlson said after recording a goal and three assists in the preseason finale. “Obviously, you don’t want to go out there and have a stinker of a preseason (the Islanders were 2-6-0), but you want to make sure you’re feeling the best you can.

“We put a big emphasis on practices over the last year and we have to build on that now. That starts in the preseason. We all came into camp prepared and ready to go and hopefully that translates into a good start.”

With the Caps’ preseason behind us, here are five things we learned over the past three weeks:

1. Alex Ovechkin can still score. Ovechkin turned 30 the day before training camp and looked winded (like just about everyone other than Jay Beagle) following Barry Trotz’s grueling fitness skate, but he was money in five preseason games, scoring a team-high five goals in five games. At that pace, Ovechkin would reach the 500-goal milestone (he’s 25 away) by early December. It’s hard to imagine the five-time Rocket Richard winner slowing down, especially with the additions of T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams to the Caps’ top six forward group.

2. The Caps’ power play will be lethal. There were concerns with the departure of Mike Green that the Caps’ power play, ranked No. 1 in the NHL in each of the last three seasons, would suffer a setback this season. But after Sunday night’s 3-for-4 performance it looks like the Caps may be even better on the man-advantage. With T.J. Oshie drawing attention in the slot and Evgeny Kuznetsov looking every bit as good as Nicklas Backstrom from the halfwall, the Caps simply have too many weapons for teams to overload against Ovechkin. You may not see Ovechkin lead the NHL with 25 power-play goals, but if that offense is spread out, the Caps will be extremely dangerous.

3. Bad moons rising. The Caps’ skill level among the top six forward positions was dramatically improved with the additions of Oshie and Williams, but a potential third line of Jay Beagle between Tom Wilson and Jason Chimera (or Andre Burakovsky when Backstrom returns) could be a handful to defend. Beagle is skating, shooting and defending like a true checking-line center and Wilson is capable of scoring 15 goals if he sees quality ice time, especially if Burakovsky falls to that line.

4. The third defense pairing bears watching. If there is a big question mark heading into the season it is the development of the Caps’ third defense pairing, where Dmitry Orlov and Nate Schmidt are trying to prove they can be trusted in their own zone. Both players can make a hard, accurate outlet pass and both can join the rush. But with Orlov still trying to make real-time decisions, the first month could have Barry Trotz reaching for the Rolaids.

5. Play defense when 3-on-3. Trotz tried quite a few different combinations in the new 3-on-3 overtime format during the preseason and it won’t be a big surprise if he takes a conservative approach in the regular season, possibly starting overtimes with one forward and two defensemen. The Caps have no reservations going to a shootout, especially with skilled forwards like Kuznetsov, Oshie and Backstrom ready to win it before even getting to Ovechkin.  

RELATED: Capitals release Roy, Peters in roster shakeup

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Touted Prospect Shane Gersich signs with Caps, joins team immediately


Touted Prospect Shane Gersich signs with Caps, joins team immediately

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.


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


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.”

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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division


Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division

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.



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)


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.


Metropolitan Division
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)

Atlantic Division
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)

Wild Card:
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)


Central Division
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)

Pacific Division
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)

Wild Card:
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)