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Season preview: Washington Capitals


Season preview: Washington Capitals

To get you ready for the 2015-16 season, we will be previewing all 30 NHL in 30 days, division by division. Check the bottom of the page for a schedule of each preview.

Today’s team: Washington Capitals

2014-15 record: 45-26-11, 2nd in the Metropolitan

How they finished: Lost in seven games to the New York Rangers in the conference semifinals

Coach: Barry Trotz (2nd season)

Notable additions: RW T.J. Oshie, RW Justin Williams

Notable subtractions: RW Troy Brouwer, D John Erskine, C Eric Fehr, D Mike Green, RW Joel Ward

RELATED: Holtby among top 10 goalies in EA Sports' new game

Outlook: Despite all the progress that was made last season, the Caps still headed into the summer on a familiar note after a heart-breaking Game 7 loss in the playoffs to the New York Rangers. The team is back on the right track in terms of coaching -- to call Barry Trotz and upgrade over Adam Oates would be an understatement -- but they still must find a way to climb over the playoff hump and the clock is ticking.

Alex Ovechkin will be 30 by the start of the season, the time for this team to win is now. General manager Brian MacLellan knows that so he went out and brought in two top-six forwards to try and balance out the offense.

Despite having Ovechkin and Nicklas Bacstrom, the Caps did not have a set top line because they lacked a true top-line right wing. That should not be an issue now that the team added both T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams in the offseason.

With Evgeny Kuznetsov at center on the second line and either Andre Burakovsky or Marcus Johansson at left wing, this top six looks dominant.

The loss of Eric Fehr leaves the Caps with a hole on the third line, but the good news is that whoever loses the battle between Burakovsky and Johansson will be pushed down giving that line a top-six caliber forward. It is not exactly clear just how the lines will ultimately fill out (I have my theory), but the addition of Oshi and Williams should make the offense much more balanced and adds more skill.

Despite the loss of Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer, this season's offense will be better.

Mike Green will no longer be patrolling the blue line, but at $6 million per year, he became simply too expensive as a third-pair defenseman. Taking over for him and Tim Gleason will be Dmitry Orlov and Nate Schmidt. This pairing is one of the biggest question marks for the Caps.

After complications from wrist surgery forced Orlov to miss the entire 2014-15 season, it's anyone's guess just what to expect from him. Nate Schmidt has never spent a full season at the NHL level. Though he is clearly ready, it remains to be seen just how a pair of Orlov and Schmidt will ultimately pan out.

In front of them, the top four will remain intact from last season. The team will need more production out of John Carlson especially on the power play to make up for Green's absence and the Caps will have to cross their fingers that the soon-to-be 35-year-old Brooks Orpik is still able to play top-pair minutes.

The defense's job is made much easier by Braden Holtby, of course, who will benefit from another year under goalie coach Mitch Korn and should have a backup behind him in Philipp Grubauer who can actually give Holtby a few nights off. There's no reason to think Holtby will not continue to show himself to be one of the NHL's top goalies.

Expectations: This is a better team than the one that came within one goal of reaching the conference finals last season. The question is how much did the teams around them improve as well?

The Metropolitan Division this season will come down to the Caps, Penguins and Rangers. If Backstrom misses an extended period of time at the beginning of the season, that could put the Caps at an early disadvantage that could drop them in the regular season standings, but I believe with the additions of Oshie and Williams they have surpassed the Rangers and I don't trust Pittsburgh's coaching. Ultimately, the biggest obstacle in the conference comes from Tampa Bay.

They may not be at the level of a team like the Lightning, but the Caps are definitely one of the better teams in the conference and it would not be surprising at all to see them finally get through the second round and compete for a conference title.

MORE CAPS: Laughlins to face USA Warriors in charity game

See all other team previews:

Pacific Division 
Anaheim Ducks 
Arizona Coyotes 
Calgary Flames 
Edmonton Oilers 
Los Angeles Kings
San Jose Sharks 
Vancouver Canucks

Central Division 
Chicago Blackhawks
Colorado Avalanche
Dallas Stars
Minnesota Wild
Nashville Predators
St. Louis Blues
Winnipeg Jets

Atlantic Division 
Boston Bruins
Buffalo Sabres
Detroit Red Wings
Florida Panthers
Montreal Canadiens
Ottawa Senators
Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Maple Leafs

Metropolitan Division 
Carolina Hurricanes
Columbus Blue Jackets
New Jersey Devils 
New York Islanders
New York Rangers
Philadelphia Flyers 
Pittsburgh Penguins

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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens

Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Canadiens will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.

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


The Capitals (43-24-7) take on the Canadiens (27-36-12) Saturday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Montreal.


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

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals at Canadiens
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime


You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


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.

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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.”