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Capitals Mailbag Part 1: Honoring the past

Capitals Mailbag Part 1: Honoring the past

It’s time for a new Capitals mailbag! Check out Part 1 below.

Have a Caps question you want to be answered in the next mailbag? Send it on Twitter using #CapsMailNBC or by email to CapitalsMailbag@gmail.com.

Please note, some questions have been edited for clarity.

A quick aside before I get into the questions. When the offseason began, my plan for the mailbag was to go as long as the questions kept coming and when they slowed down, switch from weekly to every two weeks or maybe once a month until the season got closer and interest picked up again. That never happened. You guys kept the questions coming all summer long and I could not be more appreciative. It can get hard sometimes during the summer to keep up the content, but you all gave me enough questions for one, maybe even two articles every week. I just wanted to take a quick second to say thank you for all your questions. I really do appreciate it.

Now on to the mailbag.

Dennis B. writes: I would love for the NHL to look into two rule changes. 1) If awarded a penalty shot the team can opt to have the two minute power play. I know that sounds strange but there could be times within a game that it would be a strategic move. 2) If a team scores during a delayed penalty, they should still get the power play.

I am all-in on the first suggestion. There were 43 penalty shots in the 2018-19 regular season and 15 of those resulted in goals. That is a success rate of about 34.9-percent. That is higher than a power play success, but the problem is that there are definite situations where a power play would be better for a team than a penalty shot. When a team is already on a power play and has a penalty shot, for example, I would rather have the two-man advantage than the penalty shot. I think a team should absolutely have the choice of whether they would rather have the power play or the penalty shot.

As for the second suggestion, I would not be opposed to it, but I would not push for it either. I am not one who thinks there is not enough scoring in the NHL. I am pretty satisfied with where it is now. Having the opportunity to run your offense without the other team being able to touch it is a big enough advantage for me. Having said that, if the NHL starts contemplating bigger nets again, I will gladly take this. Never, ever, ever, change the size of the nets. Ever.

Greg C. writes: Like most teams, the Caps honor players and coaches who've moved on when their new teams visit DC. With Brooks Orpik having retired this off-season and therefore not coming back to DC to play, do you think the Caps will have a Brooks Orpik night to honor him?

The Caps honor players when they come to play in Washington. I do not think they are going to designate a certain night as a “Brooks Orpik night,” but given the news that he is with the organization in a player development role, it would not surprise me if there is a game he is in attendance and the cameras pan to him and the fans are given a chance to honor him. I think it will be more generic than a planned out event, but I could see it happening.

NOTE: These next two questions are referring to last week’s mailbag when I argued there are only three Caps players who should have their number retired. You can read the article here.

Christopher B. writes: Not sure if you checked the facts of your article, but Rod Langway HAS his number retired and for you to think that Olie Kolzig or Peter Bondra don’t deserve their numbers retired just shows you haven’t been a Capitals fan for very long.

Oh, sick burn.

I don’t know when people decided that if you disagree with them on something, the only logical conclusion is that you know nothing about what you’re talking about. Has that always been a thing?

First off, I am well aware Langway’s number is one of the four that have been retired. I never said it wasn’t. When I wrote that Langway, Ovechkin and Backstrom should be the only Caps to have their numbers retired, I was not saying that Langway’s was not. I was trying to say nicely that I would not have retired Gartner, Yvon Labre or Dale Hunter’s numbers.

Clearly you disagree on my take on Kolzig and Bondra and that’s OK. I knew when I wrote that article most people would disagree with me. If you want to have a discussion about it, I welcome that. Please, tell me why I’m wrong. I’m interested to hear. Saying I must not have been a Caps fan for very long, however, is not an argument.

My feeling is simply this: Being a good player and being a popular player with a fan base is not enough to warrant a player getting his number retired. I do not think a player has to be a Hall of Famer or win a Stanley Cup, though those both help. What makes this such a fun topic to debate is the fact that there is no set criteria. I think it is all about the effect a player had on a franchise.

Langway was not only a Hall of Fame player, he literally saved the franchise. I do not think the Caps are still in Washington had he not been traded. We all know what Ovechkin and Backstrom accomplished both on and off the ice.

Kolzig and Bondra were both great players and are beloved by the fans...and that’s it. Apart from that, I am not sure that either did anything else to warrant getting their number retired.

Disagree? Great. Tell me why.

Mike C. writes: I agree with the three players. But what about the guy who scored over 700 goals in the NHL, Mike Gartner?

Gartner was a tremendous player, there’s no doubt about it. He spent the bulk of his Hall of Fame career playing in Washington where he scored 397 goals.and 392 assists.

There is a way we honor great players and that is the Hall of Fame. Being a Hall of Famer does not automatically mean someone should have his number retired. Not being in the Hall of Fame does not necessarily disqualify someone in my mind either. You have to have a high quality of play and a significant impact on the franchise.

Gartner is a Hall of Famer but did he have an impact on the Caps that comes anywhere close to Langway? Not in my mind.

Thanks for all your questions! Part 2 of the mailbag will be coming on Thursday. If you have a question you want to be answered in the next mailbag, send it to CapitalsMailbag@gmail.com or use #CapsMailNBC on Twitter.

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How to watch: Capitals vs. Hurricanes preseason Game 3

How to watch: Capitals vs. Hurricanes preseason Game 3

The Washington Capitals remain undefeated in preseason play, thanks to Tom Wilson's clutch overtime goal and a Nicklas Backstrom bouncing saucer-pass-turned-shot

Saturday night, the Caps will get their first crack at the Carolina Hurricanes, who knocked them out in the first round of the playoffs last season. This game is also the first one that comes after the Caps whittled their roster down after the first round of cuts, which included Caps 2019 draft picks Connor McMichael and Aliaksei Protas.

The Caps will face the Hurricanes in the regular season on October 5 at Capital One Arena in their home opener.

CAPITALS-HURRICANES PRESEASON GAME 3: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: Saturday, September, 21, 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals-Hurricanes preseason game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Hurricanes preseason game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

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I Am The Prospect: Capitals' prospect Alex Alexeyev is focused on one goal - making the roster

I Am The Prospect: Capitals' prospect Alex Alexeyev is focused on one goal - making the roster

Alex Alexeyev is the third Washington Capitals' prospect featured in NBC Sports Washington's I Am The Prospect series. Click here to check out more profiles from I am The Prospect.

Like most prospective NHL players, Alex Alexeyev dreams of the day he gets to lift the Stanley Cup over his head.

“It’s the best league in the world," Alexeyev said. "In childhood, they (are) always dreaming about raising that Stanley Cup. It’s my dream too.”

Standing at 6-foot, 3.5-inches tall, the 19-year-old from St. Petersburg, Russia, was the Capitals' last pick of the first round in the 2018 NHL Draft.

“He’s an untapped resource," Capitals head coach Todd Reirden said. "I was really impressed with him last year, seeing him for the first time."

Alexeyev's journey to the big leagues began three years ago when he made the move from Russia to North America, earning a spot on the top pair of the Red Deer Rebels' roster in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. It was there in March of this past year that he sustained a "scary" knee injury, almost certainly sidelining him for the time being.

“I was scared and I felt like something (was) definitely wrong with my knee but after some time where I figured out, everyone figured out that it’s not that scary,” Alexeyev said.

Alexeyev rebounded quickly, rehabbing his injury with the Capitals' AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears.

“The injuries, it’s too bad, but players do get injured and that’s something that can’t be helped, Capitals assistant general manager, Ross Mahoney said. "But he had a really good first half of the season with the Red Deer and exceptional World Junior Tournament, the under-20 tournament.” 

Since then, Alexeyev was a standout at the Caps' Developmental Camp in June.

“He just looks like he’s at a different level than the rest of the kids both physically and ability to play," Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said. "He’s big, he’s strong, he’s got a good skill level, he moves the puck well, he seems to have a good attitude a good work ethic, I’m excited to see him in training camp and see his progression here as the year goes on.

With the loss of Capitals' veteran defensemen Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik, Alexeyev is focused on making the Caps' 2019-20 roster.

“Alex is a really intelligent player," Mahoney said. "I think he’s got great vision on the ice. He has that ability also to be very patient with the puck.” 

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