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LW lock: Ovechkin missing only one thing on his resume

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LW lock: Ovechkin missing only one thing on his resume

With players starting to trickle into Kettler Capitals Iceplex from all corners of the world, we’ll spend this week looking at the Capitals’ depth chart at each position and what we can expect heading into what promises to be a very interesting 2015-16 season. Today, we examine the left wing position:

Alex Ovechkin

Age: 29
Games: 81
Goals: 53
Assists: 28
Points: 81
Plus-minus: Plus-10
Penalty minutes: 58
Power play goals: 25
Game-winning goals: 11
Shots: 395
Hits: 259
Average ice time: 20:19
Power play ice time: 3:49

2015-16 cap hit: $9.538 million

Analysis: With six years and $60 million remaining on the 13-year, $124 million investment the Caps made in him back in 2008, Ovechkin is still giving fans what they pay to see. He has led the NHL in goals in three straight seasons and showed no signs of slowing down in his first season under Barry Trotz. Ovechkin is the most lethal power-play threat in the NHL, leading all NHL forwards in power-play ice time (309:16), power-play shots (134) and power-play goals (25).

Ovechkin also quieted his critics with a plus-45 turnaround from the season before while scoring two more goals. Now, the only thing separating Ovechkin from true greatness is a Stanley Cup ring. Through 10 NHL seasons, Ovechkin is averaging .625 goals per game in the regular season and .5 goals per game in the playoffs. If there is one part of Ovechkin’s game that needs attention it is his penchant for taking penalties. His 58 penalty minutes were his most since 2009-10 and his 29 minor penalties were third most on the team behind Tom Wilson (41) and Brooks Orpik (33).

Projection: It will be interesting to see how Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom mesh with T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams, who could take turns on the Caps’ top line. We may also see Ovechkin paired with puck wizard Evgeny Kuznetsov to give opposing coaches something else to think about. No matter who he plays with, considering his recent history, you’d have to think Ovechkin is due for another 50-goal, 80-point season.

Andre Burakovsky

Age: 20
Games: 53
Goals: 9
Assists: 13
Points: 22
Plus-minus: Plus-12
Penalty minutes: 10
Power play goals: 2
Average ice time: 12:55

2015-16 cap hit: $894,166

Analysis: Taken with the 23rd pick of the 2013 NHL draft, Burakovsky impressed the Caps’ coaching staff enough to make the opening-night roster last season and scored a goal in his first NHL game. Burakovsky was averaging close to 14 minutes a game through the first six weeks of last season but from early December through early March he spent 15 games watching from the press box while the Caps’ coaching staff worked on his defensive positioning.

In the postseason, Burakovsky was a healthy scratch for the first three games against the Islanders but had a dominant Game 4 against the Rangers with a pair of goals. It is with that in mind that Burakovsky will be given added responsibilities this season, either as a second-line left wing on a line with Kuznetsov and Williams or as a third-line center with perhaps Brooks Laich and Tom Wilson.

Projection: Trotz is a stickler when it comes to giving young players too much before they are ready for it and that was certainly the case with Burakovsky last season. He’s still unproven, but with improved strength in the offseason Burakovsky has a chance to be an impact player this season, capable of cracking 25 goals and 45 points, especially if he plays with a set-up man like Kuznetsov.

Marcus Johansson

Age: 24

Games: 82
Goals: 20
Assists: 27
Points: 47
Plus-minus: Plus-6
Penalty minutes: 10
Power play goals: 3
Power play assists: 12
Average ice time: 16:28

2015-16 cap hit: $3.75 million

Analysis: Facing the first crossroads of his career last season, Johansson responded with career highs in goals (20) and points (47) and was rewarded with a one-year, $3.75 million contract that should provide plenty of incentive to duplicate, if not increase, those numbers. With an ability to play all three forward positions Johansson provides plenty of versatility and could begin the season anywhere from second-line left wing to third-line center or right wing.

Johansson showed last season that when he shoots more – his 138 shots were 31 more than his previous career high – he scores more and that will continue to be a point of emphasis this season. An excellent passer, Johansson figures to play a prominent role on the power play, where he can team up with Backstrom or Kuznetsov to make a lethal combination.

Projection: When there is discussion of Johansson being on the Caps’ third line, you’re talking about a team deep in talented forwards. With Burakovsky eating up some of his ice time, Johansson’s playing time may drop this season and if he’s matched with Brooks Laich and Tom Wilson, his production will be even more necessary. With that in mind, another 20-goal, 47-point season would be considered a very strong season for the five-year veteran.

Jason Chimera

Age: 36

Games: 77
Goals: 7
Assists: 12
Points: 19
Plus-minus: Minus-1
Penalty minutes: 51
Average ice time: 12:56
Shorthanded time on ice: 1:23
Hits: 132

2015-16 cap hit: $2 million

Analysis: Coming off his lowest full-season offensive production in nine years, this could be the final season in Washington for the Capitals’ oldest player. If so, he’ll want to go out with a bang. Despite averaging less than 13 minutes during the regular season, mostly on a line with Joel Ward and Eric Fehr, Chimera earned 15:35 of average ice time in the playoffs, proof that he can still be an impact player when it matters most.

Still one of the Caps’ fastest skaters, Chimera had three goals and four assists in 14 playoff games and his .47 points per game in the playoffs ranks better than his .38 points per game during the regular season.

Projection: Even if used in a fourth-line role and as a second-team penalty killer, Chimera is still big enough, strong enough and fast enough to reach double digits in goals and his locker-room presence is, well, as colorful as they come.

Liam O’Brien

Age: 21
Games: 45 (AHL)
Goals: 4
Assists: 4
Points: 8
Plus-minus: Minus-5
Penalty minutes: 121

2015-16 cap hit: $621,666

Nathan Walker

Age: 21
Games: 28 (AHL)
Goals: 1
Assists: 3
Points: 4
Plus-minus: Plus-2
Penalty minutes: 30

2015-16 cap hit: $635,000

Analysis: It looks as though the Caps might need to wait another year before 20-year-old Zach Sanford (24 points in 38 games for Boston College) is given a real shot at a roster spot on the left side. Until then, O’Brien and Walker could provide the grit factor Trotz likes to have on his fourth line. Both players are likely to start the season in Hershey and are considered injury call-ups at left wing.

Projection: If the Caps are healthy, fans will see a limited dose of O'Brian and Walker, but they are a pair of hungry agitators worth watching in training camp.

 

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Team USA reclaims women's hockey gold from Canada in instant Olympic classic

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Team USA reclaims women's hockey gold from Canada in instant Olympic classic

GANGNEUNG, South Korea  -- The Americans' gold medal drought in women's hockey -- finally -- is over.

Even though they needed the first shootout in an Olympic women's final to do it.

Twenty long years after taking gold when the sport debuted in 1998 at Nagano, the United States snapped Canada's streak of four straight Olympic golds Thursday with a 3-2 shootout victory.

Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored in the sixth round of the shootout to start the Americans piling over the boards, throwing gloves in the air before huddling and hugging on the ice.

Gigi Marvin and Amanda Kessel also scored in the shootout. Monique Lamoureux-Morando tied it up with a breakaway with 6:21 left in regulation.

Hilary Knight also had a goal.

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Maddie Rooney made 29 saves for the win against their archrival. The 20-year-old goalie stopped the last two Canadian shooters in the shootout in Brianne Jenner and then Meghan Agosta on her second attempt.

It was sweet redemption for the 10 Americans who watched the Canadians snatch gold from their hands in 2014 at Sochi after tying it up with 54.6 seconds left in regulation and winning 3-2 in overtime.

Not only did the Americans snap the Canadians' stranglehold on Olympic gold, they ended a skid of five straight against their rival coming into this game, including a 2-1 loss to wrap up pool play a week ago.

Marie-Philip Poulin and Haley Irwin each scored goals for Canada. Agosta and Melodie Daoust scored in the shootout.

The Americans had been dominating in non-Olympic years, winning the last four and eight of the last 10 world championships, including a 3-2 overtime victory over Canada last spring.

Their domination on the world stage only made the lack of gold at the Olympics all the more noticeable, and Canada has been in their way since losing the inaugural gold in Nagano. Canada had won 24 straight Olympic games to go along with four consecutive gold medals. It's a streak of success in a women's team sport second only to the United States' basketball team's current streak of six straight gold.

This was the eighth time these North American rivals met in the Olympics and the fifth with gold on the line. None of the previous seven were decided by more than two goals.

U.S. coach Robb Stauber went with the 20-year-old Rooney in net for the biggest game of her career, but she was the goalie for each of the three games the Americans beat Canada last fall during their pre-Olympic exhibition tour, including Four Nations Cup title in November.

Canada had Shannon Szabados, 31, in goal for her third Olympic gold medal game, and her teammates made her job very easy by keeping the puck in front of Rooney for most of the first period by dictating play. The Americans couldn't use their speed or get organized even with two power plays until Sarah Nurse went in the box for interference late in the period.

Knight gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead with 25.4 seconds left in the first, redirecting a shot from Sidney Morin through Szabados' pads giving the Americans a jolt of energy.

That lasted only 2 minutes into the second when Irwin tipped a pass from Blayre Turnbull over Rooney's left leg for Canada. When Morin lost the puck, Melodie Daoust grabbed it and passed to Meghan Agosta who hit Poulin for the wrister into the left side of the net at 6:55 for a 2-1 lead.

 

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: The Caps add two defensemen, problem solved?

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: The Caps add two defensemen, problem solved?

The Capitals got their trade deadline started early by trading for defensemen Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek. Washington has been struggling of late, but do their new acquisitions address the team's weaknesses?

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir evaluate the two trades and talk about where they could fit into the lineup.

You can listen to the latest episode here on the Capitals Faceoff page or with the player below.

Want even more great Capitals coverage? Follow @TarikNBCS and @JJReganNBCS on Twitter!