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5 Capitals players to watch in the Prospects Showcase

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NBC Sports Washington

5 Capitals players to watch in the Prospects Showcase

The Capitals prospects head to Florida on Thursday for the 2018 Prospects Showcase. Washington’s 23-man roster for the tournament was released on Wednesday and features six of the team’s seven draft picks from the 2018 entry draft.

The Caps’ prospects will play the Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning prospects starting on Saturday. In total, Washington will play three games. You can listen on Caps 24/7 Radio.

While you’re listening, here are the players you should be paying attention to.

Alexander Alexeyev

The Caps’ first round pick in 2018, Alexeyev was impressive in development camp and will look to build on that momentum in the tournament. With the Caps’ roster on defense essentially set plus several prospects in Hershey chomping at the bit for their chance at cracking the NHL, there’s virtually no scenario in which Alexeyev does not play in the WHL this year with his junior team, Red Deer. Getting drafted in the first round, however, carries with it high expectations and greater scrutiny. While he may not be playing for an NHL job this year, he will still be expected to perform well in a tournament against other prospects.

Kody Clark

Clark was selected by the Caps 47th overall in the 2018 draft, making him the highest drafted forward by Washington since Jakub Vrana was taken in the first round in 2014. In terms of high-end offensive talent, the prospect cupboard is pretty bare for Washington. For now, it is not a pressing issue, but Alex Ovechkin won’t win the Rocket Richard forever. At some point, the Caps will need to find offense from within the pipeline. If Clark can develop into a productive NHL forward, it will go a long way towards filling the offensive void among the team’s prospects.

Shane Gersich

Gersich has already experienced the highest level of hockey as he played in three NHL games last season and an additional two playoff games. You know he wants to stick around in Washington this year, but chances are he is headed to Hershey. If he wants to show he’s ready to compete for one of the few open roster spots on the Caps, he needs to be dominant in Florida. As someone who has already played at the NHL level, if he’s not the best player on the ice every shift, it will be a disappointment.

Ilya Samsonov

The big question for Samsonov this season is how he will adjust to the North American game. This tournament will be the first competitive hockey he has played since making the jump from the KHL in the spring. It will be fascinating to see just how he handles this first test and can provide a baseline for his adjustment. The biggest thing to watch is how quickly he reacts to the puck in the faster North American game.

Jonas Siegenthaler

Siegenthaler is in a similar situation to Gersich. While the Caps’ defense for the upcoming season looks set, Siegenthaler could be the next man up if there is an injury in Washington. Among the team’s prospect defensemen, Siegenthaler looks to be the most NHL ready which means he should be dominant playing against other prospects. If you can’t defend against Tampa Bay’s prospect forwards, how will you handle playing against Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos?

Here is the Capitals’ full roster for the tournament:

Alexander Alexeyev, D, drafted by Washington in the first round (31st overall) in 2018 draft

Kristofers Bindulis, D, signed with Washington as a free agent in 2017

Kody Clark, F, drafted by Washington in the second round (47th overall) in the 2018 draft

Martin Fehervary, D, drafted by Washington in the second round (46th overall) in the 2018 draft

Eric Florchuk, F, drafted by Washington in the seventh round (217th overall) in the 2018 draft

Tobias Geisser, D, drafted by Washington in the fourth round (120th overall) in the 2017 draft

Shane Gersich, F, drafted by Washington in the fifth round (134th overall) in the 2014 draft

Connor Hobbs, D. drafted by Washington in the fifth round (143rd overall) in the 2015 draft

Juuso Ikonen, F, signed with Washington as a free agent in 2018

Lucas Johansen, D, drafted by Washington in the first round (28th overall) in the 2016 draft

Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, F, drafted by Washington in the fifth round (147th overall) in the 2016 draft

Maximilian Kammerer, F, signed with Washington as a free agent in 2018

Alex Kannok-Leipert, D, drafted by Washington in the sixth round (161st overall) in the 2018 draft

Beck Malenstyn, F, drafted by Washington in the fifth round (145th overall) in the 2016 draft

Kristian Roykas Marthinsen, F, drafted by Washington in the seventh round (213th overall) in the 2017 draft

Mason Mitchell, F, signed with Washington as a free agent in 2017

Garrett Pilon, F, drafted by Washington in the third round (87th overall) in the 2016 draft

Brian Pinho, F, drafted by Washington in the sixth round (174th overall) in the 2013 draft

Ilya Samsonov, G, drafted by Washington in the first round (22nd overall) in the 2015 draft

Jonas Siegenthaler, D, drafted by Washington in the second round (57th overall) in the 2015 draft

Mark Simpson, C, a free agent invite

Riley Sutter, F, drafted by Washington in the third round (93rd overall) in the 2018 draft

Logan Thompson, G, a free agent invite

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With NHL season paused, a ranking of Capitals' best wins of 2019-20: No. 8

With NHL season paused, a ranking of Capitals' best wins of 2019-20: No. 8

While we wait for the NHL to hopefully resume its season, NBC Sports Washington is looking back at the 20 best wins of the Capitals' season so far. Mark Zaner, producer for Caps Faceoff Live and Caps Overtime Live, has watched every game. His rankings continue with No. 8, a 2-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 13 that featured another milestone for the Great 8, a shutout for the rookie goalie and the 500th game of Tom Wilson’s career. 

WHAT HAPPENED 

Two players carried the Capitals on the evening. It was clear early on that Alex Ovechkin brought his “A” game. About 12 minutes into the first, Ovechkin started the Caps’ attack by carrying the puck into the zone and flipping it to the corner. Tom Wilson recovered and found Ovi back in front of the net. Ovechkin beat Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek five-hole to get Washington on the board. 

  

The Caps managed to draw four penalties on Carolina in the first period, and took advantage of the last one. John Carlson won a battle along the boards and sent the puck to Jakub Vrana at the blue line. Vrana passed to Alex Ovechkin in his office and Ovi did the rest. 

  

And that was all the scoring on the night. Ilya Samsonov made sure the lead stuck, stopping all 23 shots from Carolina. Tip of the cap to Mrazek who deserved a better fate in this game. Mrazek made the save of the night, using a “scorpion” move to deny Carl Hagelin a goal. 

 

MEMORABLE MOMENTS 

Samsonov had another stellar night, even if he didn’t have to do a whole lot. This was his first career shutout, and so far, the only shutout the Capitals have had all season. It was Samsonov’s 13th win in 15 games. He ran his win streak to eight straight. Over those eight games, Samsonov had a GAA of 1.62 and a save percentage of .942. His best save of the night came in the first on Jordan Martinook. 

  

The goalie controversy that had been simmering for a month boiled over after this game. Even though Todd Reirden never officially announced it, Samsonov became the effective #1 goalie when the team returned from the All-Star break. Braden Holtby would reclaim his spot later in February. 

 WHY IT WAS SIGNIFICANT 

We didn’t know it at the time, but this was the beginning of an amazing run for Ovechkin. His two goals against the Hurricanes were the start of a stretch of 14 goals in seven games. His first goal of the night was the 685th of his career, which passed Teemu Selanne for 11th on the all-time list. In the span of three weeks, Ovechkin would end up alone in eighth place with 698 career goals. 

WHAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT 

This game was also an important win for the Capitals because they were coming off their worst game of the season, a 5-1 loss to New Jersey. During that loss, Reirden called a timeout to rip into his team. The Capitals responded as expected to get back on the winning path. 

For Tom Wilson, this was career game No. 500. On Caps Overtime Live it led to a debate over favorite Tom Wilson moments. Instead of going with his goal in Game 4 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals, or perhaps another postseason goal, our Grant Paulsen went off the board a bit. Grant chose his fight with Brayden Coburn in the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals. It was a fight that inspired twitter gifs and novelty t-shirts. 

 

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Nicklas Backstrom shares heartfelt thanks to doctors after birth of baby girl

Nicklas Backstrom shares heartfelt thanks to doctors after birth of baby girl

If someone has a baby and it's not posted on social media, did it actually happen? In this age of social media, most people seem to want to post all their major life events online as soon as they happen so it was a bit of a surprise on Wednesday when Nicklas Backstrom revealed on a conference call that his new baby, Alizee, was born a few days ago.

"Father of three now," he said. "We came home actually two days ago. Everything is great."

Alizee, who was due in April, is the third child of Backstrom and his fiancee, Liza Berg. The couple previously had one daughter and one son.

As joyous an occasion having a baby is, it is also nerve-racking given fears over the coronavirus. Having a baby means going to the hospital, but Backstrom had nothing but praise for the medical staff.

"I know it's been a lot of talk about the hospital people, how important they are," Backstrom said. "I think they did a great job with us. I know it's not the ideal situation to be in the hospital at this time, but everyone has sacrificed for them and many people delivered or in case they're sick, God bless them."

That makes three new little Caps babies in the month of March with Nick Jensen and T.J. Oshie also welcoming new additions to their families. That has made the team text chain pretty baby-heavy.

“Honestly I think our chat has been pretty quiet," Backstrom said. "Only post that I really notice is that we got three new babies so it has been baby pictures so everything is about that now while you are a stay at home dad.”

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