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Ilya Samsonov willing to play in AHL, does not believe Caps are 'cursed'

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Ilya Samsonov willing to play in AHL, does not believe Caps are 'cursed'

Goalie Ilya Samsonov is considered one of the top goalie prospects in the world and is someone the Capitals would like to bring over to North America sooner rather than later. But just how soon he leaves the KHL and his native Russia is up to him.

Samsonov is on the final year of his KHL contract and could come to North America as soon as this spring once his team's season is over. Or, alternatively, he could choose to sign a new contract to stay in the KHL a few more years.

So what is he planning on doing?

In an interview with Daria Tuboltseva of Championat, Samsonov was tight-lipped regarding his specific plans for next season, but said he has maintained contact with the team and is excited to play with the team’s Russian core.

RELATED: Alex Ovechkin gets no love from NHL Network

Apparently the Caps’ postseason history is well known even in Russia.

One complicating factor for Samsonov is just where the Caps would play him. The incumbent starter, Braden Holtby, is still in his prime at 27 years old and is one of the top netminders in the NHL. If Samsonov comes to North America for the 2018-19 season, at best he would serve as a backup to Holtby. At only 20 years old, however, it is more likely the Caps would send Samsonov to the AHL to get regular playing time.

Playing in the KHL, arguably the second best hockey league in the world, Samsonov has put up dazzling numbers (2.13 GAA, .936 save percentage in 27 games last season). It would be understandable if he did not want to leave his native country to come to North America just to play in a minor league, but Samsonov made clear playing in the AHL would not be an issue for him.

Despite the fact that he would not confirm his plans for next year, it was an encouraging interview for any Caps fans hoping to see the “fearless” young goalie prospect in Washington or Hershey in 2018.

Take that, Ilya Bryzgalov.

MORE CAPITALS: Verizon Center is now officially Capital One Arena

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JJ vs. the fans bold predictions: A big night for Tom Wilson?

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JJ vs. the fans bold predictions: A big night for Tom Wilson?

In the very first edition of JJ vs. the fans bold predictions, no one got a single prediction right. Well, there’s nowhere to go but up!

The Caps hit the road on Friday to take on the Detroit Red Wings (7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Washington Plus). Let’s check out our predictions.

RELATED: MADISON BOWEY IS ALREADY LOOKING MUCH IMPROVED

Fan predictions:

For those who don't know, a Gordie Howe hat trick is a goal, an assist and a fight all in one game. Tom Wilson gets the promotion to the top line tonight and Wade is expecting big things. I am not so bullish on it. I think adjusting to a new line and a new side, Wilson has moved from right wing to left, will take Wilson some time.

The Caps face former defenseman Mike Green and Garrett thinks he is going to get one past Braden Holtby. This is pretty bold considering Green has yet to record a single point in five games against his former squad.

The Capitals’ defense has had its problems of late and it has certainly dragged down the penalty kill. Remember how hot the penalty kill was to start the season? Now the Caps rank 19th in the league at 78.6-percent. Still, two power play goals is a lot considering Detroit ranks 24th in the NHL with a success rate of only 14.8-percent.

MORE CAPITALS: HOW TO WATCH CAPS-RED WINGS

JJ’s predictions:

The Caps will allow more than two goals

Washington’s defense is not as bad as they looked against Philadelphia, but it isn't as good as they looked against Toronto either. One thing that helped against the Maple Leafs was that the game was at home. Barry Trotz could get the favorable matchups for his rookie defensemen as his team had the second change. That won’t be true on Friday in Detroit. The defense will struggle as a result.

John Carlson will play more than he did against Toronto

See above. Carlson logged a hefty 27:33 on Tuesday and that was with the Caps getting the second change. The Caps will rely even more on him on the road.

Washington will get at least two goals form players not named Ovechkin, Oshie and Backstrom

Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom have 17 of the Caps’ 22 goals this season. Perhaps the big three will have another big night, but eventually the team will need someone else to step up and score. Whether because the team emphasizes it or through just dumb luck, the Caps are going to record a few points from a few of their other players on Friday.

Want to see your tweet among the fan predictions for the next game? Tweet your prediction to @JJReganNBCS every game day! Remember, we don’t just want to know who will win or the score, we want to see specifics. Be bold!

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In just one week, Madison Bowey already looks like a much improved player

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In just one week, Madison Bowey already looks like a much improved player

Madison Bowey’s second game went a lot better than his first and it’s not just because the Caps allowed only two goals as opposed to eight.

Despite being thrust into a significant role in his first taste of NHL experience, Bowey seemed to settle in a bit in his second contest even as it came against the NHL’s best offense in the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“Just everything in the first game felt like it happened so quick, I think,” Bowey said Thursday after the team’s practice. “It was obviously nice to come back in Washington and play in the home in front of the home crowd, get a practice in on Monday before the game Tuesday with the team. Just all the little factors that went into it definitely helped and I think it definitely felt a lot smoother out there on the ice.”

RELATED: BURAKOVSKY DEMOTED TO THIRD LINE

Playing at home definitely has its benefits for the coaching staff as they try to protect the rookie defensemen. Home teams get the chance to change after the visiting team allowing the coaches to pick the matchups they want for Bowey.

More favorable matchups certainly helped him, but Bowey also seemed to play with more confidence and a level of calm that was not there against Philadelphia. For Bowey, the difference was having time to settle in and practice with the team.

“Obviously this team is one of the veteran teams in the league so to be able to practice against top players in the league, it goes a long way,” Bowey said.

RELATED: WHY THE CAPS SHOULD NOT TRADE PROSPECT IIYA SAMSONOV

Bowey was called up for a Saturday game in Philadelphia after Matt Niskanen suffered a hand injury Friday in New Jersey. That means he quickly had to join the team and jump into the lineup for his first ever NHL game without any practice with the Caps at all.

Bowey now has two practices and two games under his belt and even a team-building day at FBI training. The effect that has had on his game was noticeable on Tuesday. It should be even more clear on Friday as the team travels to face the Detroit Red Wings.

“I feel myself improving every day,” Bowey said. “It forces you to really work hard and be on your top every day you come to the rink so for me, just having those two practices already have been huge. I feel the development's getting a lot better early.”