Capitals

Capitals

The Capitals finished the preseason on a high-note with a 5-2 win over the St. Louis Blues. While the night ended early for Tom Wilson, it was still a solid performance by several big name players.

Sunday’s game was very different from the rest of the preseason games. Rather than dressing several prospects looking to impress or bubble players battling for jobs, Sunday’s game saw what will most likely be the lineup for Wednesday’s opener.

Here are the players who played on Sunday like they are in midseason form.

Devante Smith-Pelly

It’s been a tough preseason for Smith-Pelly. He did not make his preseason debut until Friday because he was “still trying to get to the level where he was at last year” according to Todd Reirden. That’s not a lot of time to prepare for the regular season, but the difference in his game from Friday to Saturday was noticeable.

Smith-Pelly was all-in for this game. Killing a penalty in the first period, Smith-Pelly sold out for a big shot block and let me tell you, you could hear the puck hit him from up in the press box.

 

He seemed none the worse for wear, however, and did not miss a single shift.

Smith-Pelly has also involved offensively with four shots on goal and scored an empty-net goal.

Alex Ovechkin

Ovechkin upped his goal total for the preseason to four once he was finally able to get a shot on net. A bad turnover by St. Louis in their own zone gave the puck to Ovechkin where he was able to tee it up for a thunderous one-timer into the back of the net.

The Capitals’ captain fired nine shot attempts, but only one of them got on net and clearly, he made it count.

Ovechkin won his seventh Rocket Richard Trophy last season for leading the NHL in goals. This year, the frontrunner is believed by most to be Patrik Laine of Winnipeg, but based on how he has looked in the preseason, Ovechkin may not be ready to yield his goal-scoring crown just yet.

Nic Dowd

The biggest knock on Dowd when he was battling for a fourth line spot in training camp was the lack of offensive upside. Dowd, however, scored in the third period on a nice shot from the high-slot and really seemed to find nice chemistry with Smith-Pelly and Chandler Stephenson.

Considering this game was seen as a dress rehearsal of what the likely lineup will be on Wednesday, it is good to see that line clicking together right away.

Braden Holtby

Despite it being the preseason, there are some fans out there who have watched the preseason with trepidation, considering the amount of goals teams have managed to score even when Holtby is in net.

Holtby, however, believes he is at his best when he is in a rhythm. It’s hard to get that in the first few games of the preseason, considering you are trying to knock the rust off and playing with a lot of young prospects you are not used to playing with. Plus, you’re not even getting the full game.

Sunday’s game was Holtby’s most consistent and best performance of the preseason. He did allow two goals, but he also stopped a break away in the first period and was strong all game long. He turned aside 21 of the 23 shots he faced.

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