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Capitals Mailbag Part 1: What would a Caps-Carolina rematch look like?

Capitals Mailbag Part 1: What would a Caps-Carolina rematch look like?

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

Have a Caps question you want answered in the next mailbag? You can submit your questions here at the Capitals Mailbag submissions page on NBCSportsWashington.com.

Please note, some questions have been edited for clarity.

Cole Praver writes: If the playoffs started today the Caps would play Carolina in the first round. Would that be sweet revenge? What would the Caps need to do to beat that team?

It is really hard to tell how teams are going to look when they get back from this pause. It's a complete reset of the season that every team will have to handle in some way. It also gives more time for injured players to heal. Would Carolina have both goalies back and full strength? Sami Vatanen suffered an injury setback soon after the Hurricanes traded for him, would he be able to contribute? Would Dougie Hamilton possibly be able to return if the playoffs are pushed back? These are questions that we really won't know until they get back onto the ice.

Carolina's forecheck gave Washington fits last season. They have to be able to play better against that which means getting the puck out of the defensive zone quickly, it means short and simple passes, no stretch passes through the neutral zone that can easily be intercepted by cutting off the passing lanes and prolonged offensive shifts. Carolina cannot get its forecheck set up if every time it gets the puck the Hurricanes have to dump it for the line change. The Caps also have to put pressure on the Hurricanes' netminders. Petr Mrazek and James Reimer are this team's biggest weakness and can be beaten, even with Carolina's strong defense.

Pete DeiTos writes: Which Caps players will benefit the most from the season pause and the rest/restart it provides?

Obviously trying just to start playing again is going to present challenges regardless of the player. Having said that, I think this could be beneficial for a lot of the team's veterans. The 34-year-old Alex Ovechkin was two goals away from 50. What is he going to look like fully rested? Saying it will be good for all the guys over 30 is fairly obvious, though I am not sure what Braden Holtby will look like. He is a guy who likes to get into a rhythm and that obviously is impossible at this point. For anyone harboring any sort of nagging injury, this should also be beneficial.

But if there is one guy who I think this will benefit more than anyone, it's John Carlson. He is 30 years old, ranks 10th in the NHL in ice time per game, and, let's face it, his game had taken a massive step back heading into the pause. Time to rest and reset should benefit him about as much as anyone in the league.

Neha A. writes: When do player contracts expire? What would happen if a delayed season went past that date? Could there be free agency before the playoffs!?

The NHL league year begins on July 1 every year. Free agency starts that day because that is when a player's contract has officially expired. We do not know how far back the season will be pushed back, but if it does go into the summer, this will be one of the many challenges the league will face. How do you handle player contracts? I cannot imagine that free agency would happen before or during the postseason regardless of the circumstances. There seemingly would be just too much conflict of interest there.

Judy H. writes: Watching the encores of the 2018 Cup run has me chanting DSP (Devante Smith-Pelly) in my living room again...where is he at now?

Smith-Pelly actually played in China this season for the Kunlun Red Star in the KHL. He scored eight goals and three assists in 36 games. Their last game of the regular season was on Feb. 24. I would love to hear Smith-Pelly's perspective on what it was like to be in China when things started to get bad with the coronavirus. I have reached out about possibly talking to him, but so far have not been able to get him.

Tim T. writes: Which newborn has a better shot at making it to the Show? Nick Jensen's or TJ Oshie's?

My last name is Regan so of course I am going to go with Lorenzo Luck Jensen who was born on the best darn day of the year, St. Patrick's Day.

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, you can submit it here at the Capitals Mailbag submissions page on NBCSportsWashington.com.

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How to watch Evgeny Kuznetsov's best games with the Capitals

How to watch Evgeny Kuznetsov's best games with the Capitals

Over the past six seasons, forward Evgeny Kuznetsov has been one of the biggest reasons for the Capitals' success.

Kuzy has been extremely durable for the Capitals, playing in at least 76 games over the past six seasons, excluding the 2019-20 shortened season due to the coronavirus pandemic. The winger has been one of Washington's best attacking players during that span, splitting time between both Washington's first and second lines. 

No. 92 has also found a knack for playing his best hockey on the sport's biggest stages. Kuznetsov netted arguably the most important goal in Capitals history, scoring the game-winning goal in Game 6 of the 2018 Eastern Conference semi-finals in overtime to eliminate the Pittsburgh Penguins, "exorcising the demons" for a franchise that previously could not get past the second round. We all know how that story ends, with the Capitals hoisting the Stanley Cup just over a month later.

On Sunday, NBC Sports Washington is airing four of Kuznetsov's best regular-season performances. At 9 a.m., tune in to watch the Caps 6-5 overtime thriller over the Tampa Bay Maple Leafs from January 3, 2017. In that contest, Kuzy totaled four points, netting one goal and notching three assists, including one that set up Alex Ovechkin's game-winning goal.

Following that, we travel back to October of 2018, when Kuznetsov turned in another four-point performance in a 5-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in a rematch of the 2018 Stanley Cup. Kuzy started the scoring in the first period with a power-play goal and would tally three assists later on in the match as the Caps cruised to a dominating win.

At 2 p.m., the Caps 6-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings from February 11, 2019, will re-air. In this matchup, Kuznetsov finished with four points once again, this time finding the back of the net twice to go along with a pair of assists. To close out the day, tune in to see Kuznetsov net two goals in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Arizona Coyotes at 4:30 p.m.

A trip down memory lane that highlights Kuznetsov's greatest games is the perfect way to spend a Sunday.

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When:

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Where:

Broadcast Schedule:

9:00 a.m.: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Capitals from January 3, 2017

11:30 a.m.: Vegas Golden Knights @ Capitals from October 10, 2018

2:00 p.m.: Los Angeles Kings @ Capitals from February 11, 2019

4:30 p.m.: Arizona Coyotes @ Capitals from November 11, 2019 

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Ever Wonder: Why the Capitals' jerseys have three stars on them

Ever Wonder: Why the Capitals' jerseys have three stars on them

The current Washington Capitals jersey design — the red home sweaters with the white away ones — has been the defining look for the team throughout much of the Alex Ovechkin era.

During the summer of the 2007 season, the Caps rebranded. The franchise changed its colors from black and blue back to the organization's original design scheme of red, white, and blue. The jerseys that followed were similar to Washington's old-school look, having plenty of similarities with the uniform they wore from 1974-1994.

However, when the Caps unveiled their new look in 2007, there was one big difference from their old uniforms. The new-look had three stars on the front, compared to the six stars that had been across the top of the old sweaters.

Capitals assistant general manager Don Fishman spoke with NBC Sports Washington and explained why the franchise chose to go with just three stars, and it's because each star has a specific meaning.

"The three stars on our current Capitals jersey represent the three jurisdictions: Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.," Fishman said.

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While cutting the number of stars from six to three on the front of the sweater was a big change, Fishman explained that the new uniform was designed to be a modernized version of the franchise's original look.

"It was sort of meant to update and modernize the original Caps jersey, beautiful, old-school, 1970's work hard," Fishman said. "That jersey had six stars and was even on the jerseys in the 90s with the blue and black jersey. So we wanted to keep that concept of the stars, but we didn't want to keep that exact same look. So instead, we redid three stars right on the wordmark. The three stars seemed perfect."

The uniform change also marked the beginning of an incredible postseason run the Capitals have gone on since.

In 2007, the team's first year with the new look, the franchise made the playoffs for the first time in the Ovechkin era. Since then, they've made the postseason 11 of the past 12 seasons and won their first Stanley Cup in 2018.

For Fishman and many Caps fans, the red and white uniforms will always remind them of Washington's first championship and the franchise's biggest star.

"I think it's neat how this redesign will always be linked to Ovechkin and the Capitals' first Stanley Cup," Fishman said.

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