Now four games into the preseason, the Capitals are still in search of their first win. Washington fell 4-1 to the New Jersey Devils on Monday in a game that also saw them lose defenseman Martin Fehervary in the second period.
Here are some observations from the loss.
Connor McMichael makes his presence felt
There may be an open spot at center to start the season with Nicklas Backstrom's status a question mark, and it just so happens that the Caps' top two prospects are centers. Thus far, Hendrix Lapierre has been the more visible of the two, but on Monday, McMichael took the spotlight with his best performance of the preseason.
McMichael was robbed in the second period on the doorstep after a great pass from Daniel Sprong. McMichael made up for it later in the second, scoring his first goal of the preseason to get Washington on the board.
McMichael and Sprong played well together and looked like the team's top offensive threats on the night.
Goaltending is a question mark
Vitek Vanecek was brilliant when the game started, but he could not keep that level through the entire 60 minutes.
Vanecek initially looked very comfortable in net and finished with 22 saves out of 25 shots. His best saves came at the end of the second period as he robbed both Pavel Zacha and Jesper Bratt as they tried to catch the Caps defense sleeping and sneak in a late goal.
But it wasn't all good, as shots from Michael McLeod and Pavel Zacha found the back of the net and looked like the kind of saves you need your goalie to make in games that count.
The lower-body injury to Samsonov makes it look like Vanecek is the front-runner to start the opener. On Monday, he was good, but not great.
Martin Fehervary leaves early
Fehervary took a shot off the hand in the second period. His last shift came with 6:54 left in the middle frame and he did not return. The Caps announced it was an upper-body injury.
Fehervary made a bad read on New Jersey's first goal, as both he and Matt Irwin converged on Janne Kuokkanen, leaving a lane for Dawson Mercer to the side. As Fehervary tried to adjust, the young Mercer had a step and turned the corner on Fehervary to get to the front of the net, eventually leading to the Holtz goal.
Even so, I think Fehervary had the upper hand on Michal Kempny for a spot on the Caps' blue line to start the season. He may still be adjusting to the system, but he certainly looks more ready than Kempny to this point.
Hopefully, whatever injury he may be dealing with is minor and he will be back quickly. Otherwise, it suddenly becomes even more important to get Kempny back up to speed as quickly as possible.