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Boyd, Jaskin sizzle as the Caps' fourth line continues to stay ahead of the curve

Boyd, Jaskin sizzle as the Caps' fourth line continues to stay ahead of the curve

Fresh off of a third-star recognition, Travis Boyd returned to home ice to score less than eleven minutes into Tuesday night’s game as the Capitals hosted the Detroit Red Wings.

Saturday’s goal, versus Columbus, was the first of Boyd’s career. The fact that his second came not even four days later may seem unusual – but with the Capitals’ fourth line cruising, it’s hardly a surprise.

The fourth line, consisting of Boyd, Nic Dowd, and Dmitrij Jaskin, has been together the past three games since Tom Wilson sustained an upper-body injury and the lineup changed. That version of the fourth line has combined for eight points in three wins. 

Dowd has had the most sustained success with seven points in his past nine games (three goals, four assists) - though not all of that came with Jaskin and Boyd. But together the trio continues to show that it shouldn’t be overlooked with significant contributions towards the team’s scoring.

“I think right now we're just having fun together,” Boyd said after the 6-2 win against the Red Wings. “It's kind of funny, you play games and you start making plays together and all of a sudden, it's kind of like a snowball effect. The more plays you make, the more confidence you get and it just kind of keeps going.”

The fourth line’s newfound confidence – and the fun they’re having with it – is tangible. Jaskin, after chipping past Detroit defenseman Mike Green, hustled to avoid an icing call and then helped feed Dowd, who passed to Boyd for a goal that put Washington ahead 2-0 just 10:50 into the game. 

The play looked effortless – so much so that the Red Wings were frustrated by the end of the first, down 3-0. It wasn’t until the third period that Detroit was finally able to get on the board thanks to a goal by Dylan Larkin that held up after a coach’s challenge for goalie interference.

Larkin spoke to the struggle to counter Washington’s fourth line’s success..

“There’s no bad players in this league,” Larkin said. “Whoever scores, it’s disappointing. But the next shift is the most important. We got penned in our zone a little too much tonight.”

Capitals coach Todd Reirden had high praise for the line’s developing chemistry.

“[There’s] a lot of chemistry,” Reirden said. “They're playing well and it’s great to see them get rewarded, and they could have had a couple more. They play the right way for the most part.”

Though Boyd, Dowd, and Jaskin have been outstanding in the past few games, it isn’t a completely new development, but rather, an improvement on a larger goal.

“It's something talked about in the summer,” Reirden said. “[There’s an] importance of having depth scoring and I think that was something we struggled with in the first 10 games of the year, getting scoring from that bottom six. Now it's been a really big part of our success.“

As the league evolves, requiring more skill and versatility from more players, Reirden remains positive that the Caps are ahead of the curve.

“The days of just having a fourth line guy that would be your tough guy, that's kind of gone away,” Reirden said. “I think where we're headed, [if] you can get offensive production from that fourth line, you become a very difficult team to match up against. That's a luxury as a coach if you can have that type of depth. Credit all goes to how our players have bought in and taken advantage of their opportunities. They've been given them, they've earned and deserved to be in that situation they're in right now.”


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Carlson cannot be stopped, Ovechkin gets out the blowtorch and Siegenthaler impresses

Carlson cannot be stopped, Ovechkin gets out the blowtorch and Siegenthaler impresses

The legend of John Carlson is growing as he added two goals to his already incredible season on Wednesday in a 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings.

Check out the game recap here.

Observations from the win

Just give Carlson the Norris already

Sometimes it can be hard to recognize or understand the magnitude of a player's performance over the course of the season. If you don't recognize yet that we are seeing a special season from Carlson, then you need to get on board.

With 11 goals and 31 assists in 30 games, Carlson is statistically off to one of the best starts by a defenseman ever. More on those numbers below.

It's not just his offensive play, Carlson has been very good defensively. That narrative that he is only good offensively and is a defensive liability in his own end is ludicrous.

At this point, you can start engraving Carlson's name into the Norris Trophy now. He is playing well in his own end and he is having one of the best seasons ever for a defenseman offensively. There's no debate.

Hagelin's real return

Hagelin returned from injury for Tuesday's game against San Jose, but you could not see the real impact of his return until Wednesday. The Caps did not take a single penalty against the Sharks, but took three against the Kings. Penalty killing is where Hagelin's game really excels and that was evident in this game as he led the team with 3:55 of shorthanded ice time and was a major factor in the Caps stifling the power play.

Don't forget about Siegenthaler

Carlson is going to steal all the headlines, but Jonas Siegenthaler put together one heck of a game and was named the second star. He recorded a game-high four blocked shots, but his real highlight came in the second period as he defended a 2-on-1 by the Kings.

The responsibility of a defenseman on a 2-on-1 is to defend the pass. Siegenthaler got into the passing lane and timed his slide exactly right, getting down on the ice at just the right time to block the puck. It was exceptionally well played and prevented Los Angeles from even getting a shot off.

Turn off the blowtorch, Ovi!

During a stoppage in play, Alex Ovechkin was on the bench taking a blowtorch to his helmet. He then handed the still lit blowtorch off to head equipment manager Brock Myles.

Come on, man. Turn off the blowtorch before you hand it off.

Turning point

Carlson's second goal of the game first period proved to be the game-winner and established that this was going to be his and the Caps' night.

Play of the game

Carlson's 100th career goal was a pretty one and very fitting. The defenseman who does it all did it all on this play, getting the steal in the defensive zone, taking it himself down the ice and firing the wrister to beat Jonathan Quick on the far post.

Stat of the game

It's Carlson's world, we're all just living in it.

Quote of the game

Ovechkin has spent much of his career leaving his teammates speechless. Now Carlson has done it to him.

"I don't know what to say right now; he's the hottest guy out there. You can see two highlight-reel goals again. He's good."

Fan predictions

This was pretty darn close.

The Caps are now 4-0-1 this season on the second leg of a back-to-back.

Well, you got the two for Carlson right.

I love this bit. Keep trying guys.


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Carlson's two goals propel Caps over Kings

Carlson's two goals propel Caps over Kings

John Carlson's incredible season continued as he scored twice Wednesday to lead the Capitals to the 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings. In the dreaded California road trip. Washington now sits 2-0-0 with only Friday's game in Anaheim remaining.


Here is how the Caps won.

John Carlson

What can you even say at this point?

One day after tallying three points in San Jose, Carlson came up big again scoring twice in the first period to make sure this game was never really in doubt.

Kings forward Trevor Lewis was trying to corral a bouncing puck in the offensive zone. Carlson saw that and attacked, stealing the puck away and sprinting down the ice. Carl Hagelin was with him but cut behind him leaving Carlson with no pass options. Instead, he called his own number and fired a wrister that hit off the far post and into the net. It was not clear, but the puck may have ramped up off the stick of defenseman Matt Roy.

Later in the first, Lars Eller battled for a puck in the corner of the offensive zone. He got it away from traffic up to T.J. Oshie. At that moment, Carlson was on the far side and recognized he was wide open. He charged towards the net and received a great pass from Oshie to put him in alone on goalie Jonathan Quick. Quick thought Carlson was going high the whole time and was leaning forward to make himself big to cover up high. By leaning forward, however, he committed himself and could not adjust as Carlson smartly stick-handled around and behind him.

That goal would prove to be the game-winner.

Carlson's goals were the 10th and 11th of the season making him the sixth Cap with at least 10 goals this season.

The penalty kill

Washington got arguably its best penalty killer back in the lineup for Tuesday's game in San Jose. The Caps did not take any penalties against the Sharks, however, so the team did not get the full impact of Hagelin's return. He got plenty of time to show off his penalty-killing acumen on Wednesday, however, as the Caps gave up three power play opportunities.
Washington killed off all three of those power plays to maintain their lead. Hagelin led the team with 3:55 of shorthanded ice time.

Strong defense

It was not just the penalty kill, the Caps defense as a whole was strong. Los Angeles was limited to just 44 shots with only 23 of those attempts getting in on net.

Ilya Samsonov was strong despite one mistake behind the net that led to the Kings' lone goal of the game and turned aside from the remaining 22 shots he faced.

The Caps did a great job of limiting Los Angeles' opportunities with key plays. Oshie took a penalty late in the second as he slashed Anze Kopitar to deny him a chance when he had gotten inside of Carlson in front of the net. Jonas Siegenthaler delivered a picture-perfect 2-on-1 defense as he timed his slide perfectly to cut off the passing lane and make sure the Caps would escape without even giving up a shot. Those key defensive plays stifled the Kings all night.