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Halpern has a whole new perspective on Caps

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Halpern has a whole new perspective on Caps

In addition to Capitals pro development coach Olie Kolzig, there has been another familiar face assisting with the club’s development camp at Kettler this week.

Jeff Halpern, a Potomac native who went undrafted and signed with the Caps as a free agent, was invited by Caps general manager Brian MacLellan to attend this year’s five-day camp, which concludes on Saturday with a 10:30 a.m. scrimmage.

“I was happy he called,” said Halpern, who last played for the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013-14. “It’s a chance for me to be a part of this and help out where I can. It’s been neat to see some behind-the-scenes stuff.”

Caps assistant general manager Ross Mahoney said both parties can benefit from Halpern’s knowledge of the game and ability to communicate.

“He’s a former captain,” Mahoney said. “Jeff has always been not just a player of high character but a very intelligent player and we can always use more help like that. And I think Jeff would like to get into the area of coaching. It’s a good opportunity for him to give to the kids and also learn from some of the veteran coaches.”

MORE CAPITALS: THE MISSING PIECE?

A 1999 graduate of Princeton, Halpern said his rookie camp in 1999 was far less organized than the five-day campBarry Trotz has set up this week. Nearly every hour of the day is accounted for the 36 players invited to camp, half of which are free agents hoping to sign their first pro contracts.

Certain that his playing days are over, Halpern says coaching is a career he’d like to pursue and this has been his first exposure to the preparation that goes on before the players hit the ice.

“It’s funny,” he said. “Having played against Nashville and Pittsburgh, you see the influence of Barry Trotz and Todd Reirden in some of the schemes that have been brought here. It’s neat to see it all pulled together.

“I watched a lot of Caps game from the seats this year, from the sidelines, and it’s neat to see the details that went into those games. I never had the chance to be in a coach’s room for a full day and see how prepared and thorough they are, from team play to individual play. It’s amazing to see a lot of the work that goes into it.”

Having last played with the Capitals four seasons ago under Bruce Boudreau and Dale Hunter, Halpern said he has seen the club mature into a team that has a legitimate shot at winning the organization’s first Stanley Cup.

“I think they were a legitimate contender last year,” he said. “It’s hard to say it came together quickly because a lot of those guys were the same players as in years’ past. But they were a game away from winning that series (against the Rangers) and moving on.”
Halpern said the Caps will miss the impact of Troy Brouwer, Joel Ward and Mike Green, but he thinks the arrivals of right wings Justin Williams and T.J. Oshie will bring a different dynamic on the ice and in the locker room.

“Any time you bring new guys in there’s a bit of a transition period,” he said. “The two guys they brought in happen to be world-class players and very suited for the players the coaching staff hopes they play with.  I think for an organization that’s always looking to get better, they did that.”

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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.

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