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Oshie thrilled to be playing with Ovechkin


Oshie thrilled to be playing with Ovechkin

Capitals fans won’t have to wait very long to see what T.J. Oshie can do on a line with Alex Ovechkin.

The two will flank 23-year-old center Evgeny Kuznetsov when the Caps open their seven-game preseason schedule against the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at Verizon Center (7 p.m., CSN).

“You know he’s a dynamic player,” Oshie said of Ovechkin, who has led the NHL in goals in five of his 10 NHL seasons, including the past three. “But when you play with him and see his shot, I just shake my head every time he puts one in the back of the net. He can score from spots where most guys can’t. It’s pretty amazing.”

Oshie, 28, will be looking to build on a 19-goal, 55-point season in St. Louis, where he has played his entire seven-year career. If he plays the entire season on a line with Ovechkin, there’s a good chance those offensive totals will increase.

“I actually tried to use his stick the other day and I can’t use it,” said Oshie, who like Ovechkin is a right-handed shooter. “I shouldn’t have even touched it.”

RELATED: Caps show their top line at morning skate

Ovechkin, 30, is coming off a 53-goal season and said he’s anxious to play with Oshie and Kuznetsov, who is coming off an 11-goal, 26-assist season. Kuznetsov is projected as the Caps’ second-line center but will be filling in on the top line until Nicklas Backstrom returns from offseason hip surgery.  

“I think the coaches right now are trying to figure out if Backy is not going to play, what are the lines going to be out there,” Ovechkin said. “For Kuzy, it’s a good opportunity to show up and be one of the leaders of the team and one of the best players in the league.”

Kuznetsov excelled in the playoffs last season with five goals and two assists in 14 games. He said he’s been dreaming of playing alongside Ovechkin since the day the Capitals drafted him 26th overall in 2010, an NHL draft that produced Jeff Skinner, Vladimir Taresenko, Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin.

“Everybody wants to play with players like Ovi and Oshie,” Kuznetsov said. “You have to want this when you come here.  Ovi is a good guy on the ice and as a person and Oshie, I see him play in Olympic Games and St. Louis and he’s a great, great, player.”

Oshie said he’s been impressed with Kuznetsov’s poise with the puck and his defensive awareness, adding, “The kid’s got a very bright future ahead of him.”

Capitals coach Barry Trotz agreed, comparing Kuznetsov’s on-ice awareness and vision to Backstrom’s.

“His confidence level at the end of (last) season was very high,” Trotz said. “He’s got a strut that maybe he didn’t have last year. Some guys might say, ‘Ovi’s the guy.’ But he’s not afraid to be the guy. Maybe he’ll push the older guys to raise their level of play.”

Trotz said he’s not certain he will stick with the Ovechkin-Kuznetsov-Oshie line throughout tonight’s game, saying he could move Derek Roy between Ovechkin and Oshie, depending on how the game goes. But for now he wants Oshie to feel comfortable on the ice.

“I’d like to see if there’s any chemistry,” Trotz said. “I just want Oshie to feel comfortable. I don’t know if he’ll stay on that line. We’re throwing units together that might be on the power play together.”

Goalie update: Trotz said Braden Holtby will get the start tonight and will be replaced by backup Dan Ellis, who is expected to begin the season in Hershey. That means Ellis, a strong puck handler, will participate in the post-game, sudden death 3-on-3 overtime. “We wouldn’t put Braden in there cold,” Trotz said.

MORE CAPITALS: Oshie, Ovi expected to make preseason debuts

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Caps prospect watch: Boyd dedicates 4-goal performance to daughter after week in the hospital


Caps prospect watch: Boyd dedicates 4-goal performance to daughter after week in the hospital

It would have been understandable if Travis Boyd struggled this past week. Something more important was on his mind.

Boyd spent the week in the hospital with his daughter, Hayden, who had been experiencing pain in her throat. He spent the enitre week in the hospital, not leaving until Hershey's game against Laval.

Boyd turned this trial into something incredible as he scored four goals Friday in Hershey's 6-3 win.

Boyd spoke about the ordeal with Zach Fisch of the Bears Radio Network (transcription via RMNB).

“It actually started after the game last Sunday against Rochester," he said. "I went straight from the rink to Urgent Care and then from Urgent Care to the ER. Never left the hospital until Friday morning. We had a successful surgery on Thursday night. Basically just a bad infection in her throat that had to be surgically removed. They had to surgically go in and kind of remove the bacteria and drain out the fluids. Everything went well. She’s doing well.”

Following the game, Boyd dedicated his performance to Hayden.

A four-goal game at the AHL level would have been an incredible accomplishment on its own. The fact that it came during such a trying time for him makes this a truly inspirational story.

You can watch highlights of the game including all four of Boyd's goals here:


Other prospect notes:

  • In the Bears' game Friday against Laval, Riley Barber dropped the gloves with Markus Eisenchmid.  Barber was given an extra minor and game misconduct for instigating the fight in the final five minutes of the game. That penalty carries with it an automatic one-game suspension which Barber served Saturday. Here's a look at the fight.

  • Liam O'Brien had a pair of two-goal games over the week, scoring twice against Laval Friday and then two more against Toronto on Monday. Of his four goals, three of them were empty netters.
  • As the Capitals prepare for their Stadium Series game in Annapolis on March 3, Annapolis mayor Gavin Buckley—a native of Perth, Australia—made a plea to see Nathan Walker recalled for the game.  “I’ll have to put a quick shout out to the one Australian that’s playing for the Caps now, Nathan Walker. If you could just bring him up for this game, that’d be great. Because an Australian being in a hockey game is like a Jamaican bobsled team. It doesn’t happen very often.”

  • Brian Pinho was honored Friday in Providence College's Senior Night. He has served as captain of the team this season and as an assistant captain in his junior year. He spoke with The Cowl on what being a leader on the team means to him. "I think being a leader of this team is a great honor, but also a huge responsibility. I try to keep everything fun at the rink, while also bringing some intensity and competing hard every day.” You can read the full story here.
  • Goalie Adam Carlson, who was on loan to the Indy Fuel of the ECHL, was reassigned to the Kansas City Mavericks also of the ECHL. He started two games for his new team and turned aside 42 of the 48 total shots he faced.

Who are the Caps' top 10 prospects? Find out here in his week's updated rankings.

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Game 61: Capitals at Panthers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread


Game 61: Capitals at Panthers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Florida Panthers

Where: BB&T Center, Sunrise, Fla.

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Panthers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Panthers game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.


The Capitals (34-19-7) take on the Panthers (26-25-6) Tuesday, February 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Florida.


The Capitals-Panthers game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:30 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:30 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:30 p.m. — Capitals at Panthers
10:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:30 p.m. — Caps in 30


Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Panthers game:

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Michal Kempny - Brooks Orpik

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek


The Capitals-Panthers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.