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8 players to watch as Caps open development camp

8 players to watch as Caps open development camp

Tuesday will be the first on-ice day for the players at Capitals development camp. Here are the future Caps you should be keeping an eye on throughout the week.

Alex Alexeyev: Alexeyev is Washington’s first first-round pick since 2016 and development camp will be the first time he hits the ice as a member of the organization. The success of the Capitals’ 2018 draft will depend on how good of a player Alexeyev turns out to be. Teams just cannot afford to miss on their first-round picks. Camp will provide us with the first chance to see his skill and just how he stacks up against the team's other prospects and free agents.

Kody Clark: As the 47th overall pick, Clark is the highest drafted forward the Caps have taken since Jakub Vrana in 2014. Plus, he didn’t even come from the WHL which has become the major pipeline junior league for Washington. Clearly, they must have seen something they really liked in Clark to draft him as high as they did.

Shane Gersich: How does a player go from three NHL games and two playoff games to development camp? We’re about to find out. While Gersich went straight to the NHL after signing from North Dakota, Gersich’s future in the upcoming season likely will be in the AHL…unless he can prove he’s ready already to make the jump. If he doesn’t look like he’s head and shoulders above the rest of the prospects at camp, he’s not ready to challenge for an NHL roster spot.

Lucas Johansen: Expectations are high for the team’s top draft pick from 2016. Now entering his third development camp with the team, the biggest question for Johansen is just how much muscle has he been able to put on? The camp roster lists Johansen as 177 pounds. That would actually mean he has dropped a significant amount of weight since last season’s camp when he was 188 which would of course mean he’s trending in the wrong direction.

Axel Jonsson-Fjallby: The young Swede was a breakout star in the World Junior Championship with his speed and flowing locks. He followed that up with an impressive performance in the SHL playoffs with six goals and nine points in 13 games. The bar has been set very high for him heading into this camp.

Brian Pinho: This will mark Pinho’s sixth development camp, but this time, he comes in under contract with the Caps. After four seasons playing at Providence College, Pinho could have become a free agent on Aug. 15 had he elected to wait, but instead chose to sign with the team that drafted him. After a strong collegiate career, now the question is just what can he offer the Caps?

Ilya Samsonov: Samsonov signed an entry-level deal with the Caps after the KHL season ended and now is poised to make his North America debut in the fall. The plan for now is for Samsonov to start in Hershey and Pheonix Copley to serve as the Caps’ backup, but Copley has only two games of NHL experience. What’s plan B if he struggles? If Samsonsov can adjust quickly to the North American game, he could potentially challenge Copley for that backup role.

Jonas Siegenthaler: Depending on how free agency plays out, the Caps may have one or two spots open on the blue line heading into training camp. Of the team’s defensive prospects, Siegenthaler is believed to be the most NHL ready at this point. Could he be in the running for a spot with the Caps this season?

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Blue Jackets troll Capitals on Twitter after pulling even atop Metro Division

Blue Jackets troll Capitals on Twitter after pulling even atop Metro Division

The Columbus Blue Jackets threw some serious shade at the Caps Tuesday night after their 7-2 blowout loss to the Predators.

The Jackets are now tied for the Metro lead after the Caps lost their third straight game, and they let them have it on Twitter.

That's a bold jab coming from the team that lost to the Caps in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs...

The GIF comes from Saturday night's overtime loss to the Jackets where Columbus celebrated Artemi Panarin's game-winner with Evgeny Kuznetsov's signature bird celly.

When asked about the copycat celebration last Saturday, Kuzy said, "That's fine. It's nice to get some people that think about me, same as in April last year.”

The Capitals meet the Blue Jackets again Feb. 12 where the only bird celly should come from Kuzy.

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Caps suffer third straight loss as they get rocked in Music City

Caps suffer third straight loss as they get rocked in Music City

The final score of a game can often be deceiving, but that was certainly not the case on Tuesday. The Capitals lost 7-2 to the Nashville Predators in a game every bit as one-sided as the score indicates. Viktor Arvidsson scored a hat trick and Nick Bonino added another two goals in a game that was well in hand before the end of the second period.

Here are three reasons the Caps lost.

Viktor Arvidsson

Arvidsson came into this game with 14 goals this season and 21 points in 23 games. He is one of the best players in the league that no one talks about and that was certainly on display in this game. He wasn’t a one trick pony either. His first goal came on the breakaway, his second was a deflection and his third was a shorthanded breakaway.

Arvidsson’s third goal

As one-sided as the game was, there was a moment in the second period when it looked like Washington was going to claw its way back into it. Down 3-0 in the second period, Nicklas Backstrom scored on the power play to make it 3-1. Less than five minutes later, T.J. Oshie drew a tripping call from Calle Jarnkrok. Suddenly it looked as if the Caps had a chance.

But once again, Washington had no answer for Arvidsson.

Backstrom tried to carry the puck into the offensive zone, but he was met and challenged by Arvidsson. Backstrom lost the puck and Arvidsson took off while Ryan Johansen grabbed the puck in the neutral zone. Johansen fed Arvidsson for the breakaway and he delivered the knockout punch.

Washington was eyeing a 3-2 game, but instead they suddenly found themselves down 4-1 and the rout was on.

Poor decisions

Give all the credit to Nashville for dominating this game, they dominated and deserved to win. Having said that, the Caps were clearly their own worst enemy in Nashville.

Tom Wilson carried the puck into the offensive zone in the first period. With no open passing lane, the only real option he had was to dump and chase or drive himself and pass back to the blue line. Instead, he forced a pass to Ovechkin who had to stop and reach back to grab the puck. He was also being covered by two players so it was no surprise when he turned the puck over. The resulting breakout led to a breakaway and Arvidsson’s first goal.

In the second period, Andre Burakovsky had the puck and looked like he had a lane to shoot or dive to the net. Instead, he pulled up and tried to cross the puck. The pass was easily picked off and Rocco Grimaldi was off in the other direction. He would finish off the play with a highlight-reel spin-o-rama goal, but it all started with a poor decision.

This game was full of those moments. Bad decision by the Caps and the puck was off in the other direction. The uglier the game got, the more Washington’s system and hockey sense went out the window. Two of Nashville’s goals came on the breakaway and one came on a two-on-one. Those type of odd-man breaks happen because of breakdowns.

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