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Capitals mailbag: With Tom Wilson back, does that fix the penalty kill?

Capitals mailbag: With Tom Wilson back, does that fix the penalty kill?

It’s time for the weekly Capitals mailbag! Check out the Nov. 14 edition below. Have you got a Caps question you want to be answered in next week’s mailbag? Send it on Twitter using #CapsMailNBC or by email to CapitalsMailbag@gmail.com

Please note some questions have been edited for clarity.

Getting Tom Wilson back certainly helps in terms of the penalty kill. The Caps killed off five out of six power plays in Tuesday’s win over Minnesota and the only goal they gave up came after the game was no longer in doubt. In his very first game back, Wilson logged 5:23 shorthanded minutes so you can see how important he is.

Todd Reirden wanted the penalty kill to be more aggressive this season, but the Caps have not found a way to do that while not leaving themselves vulnerable defensively. It will take time to adjust. The first goal of the game Sunday against the Arizona Coyotes came because the penalty kill got caught in the offensive zone with three Caps players going behind the goal line and they could not get back in time to set up. That’s a coachable moment. You show that video and tell the players if you are on the PK, you should never be behind the goal line.

The best thing they can do is study Arizona’s penalty kill. The Coyotes rank first in the league at 90.6-percent and have also scored an unfathomable nine shorthanded goals already, less than a quarter of the way into the season. That’s the type of penalty kill Reirden is looking for so find out what makes it so effective and replicate that.

Let’s not get too low on the power play. It still ranks second in the NHL at 30.3-percent. The production we saw at the beginning of the season was simply unsustainable. The bigger problem offensively has been five-on-five scoring, but Wilson’s return has set the lines right so that should improve as well.

From Nathan S.: I always hear that what happens on the ice stays there but I have to imagine that some tense words can be exchanged between players who have had nasty hits on them, i.e., would Pens players “have words” with Wilson about his dirty hits if they came across him in a bar? Do players ever confront their opponents off ice or do they all go hang out together after the games the way NBA players apparently do?

There are occasions where bad blood can carry over off the ice. It happens, but for the most part players and coaches are good at moving on.

It is important to remember that the division among teams and rivalries run much deeper among the fans than they do for the players. Players are very good at compartmentalizing and moving on from frustrating incidents because they have to, not just in terms of looking towards the next game, but because of their relationships with one another. These players train together, many have played together or will play together in the future. Heck, you may even play for some of those players you play against someday so it doesn’t make sense to burn bridges because you can’t let something that happened on the ice go.

Dmitrij Jaskin fought Wilson on Sept. 22, 2017. The Caps didn’t ask him if he was still upset with Wilson before claiming him off waivers because you have to move on.

That’s not to say all the players like each other. I’m sure Alex Ovechkin and Nazem Kadri aren’t buddies just like I doubt Zach Aston-Reese will be sending Wilson a Christmas card this year. But most players are smart enough to know to leave it on the ice.

Ryleigh V writes: How can I meet Oshie?

The Caps hold a number of events every year in which players interact with fans. Oshie in particular is very good at those kinds of things. My advice would be to check on the Caps’ website or their twitter account for any update on any local events. Sometimes you can meet players after practice as well at MedStar Capitals Iceplex, but not always.

Or you could just try to catch the same Metro train as him on the way to a game. If you do meet him, just don’t ask him to drink a beer through his shirt. A lot of people keep asking him to do that.

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The Capitals are looking for a rare sweep of the Buffalo Sabres

The Capitals are looking for a rare sweep of the Buffalo Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres do not rank high among the Capitals’ most hated rivals, but when you look back at the history of these two teams, Washington has struggled against the Sabres more than you may think.

In the Caps’ first two seasons they faced Buffalo 10 times. Washington lost nine of those games and tied one. In fact, the Caps managed only two wins total in their first 32 meetings.

Even when Washington advanced past their initial struggles as a franchise, success against Buffalo has been hard to come by. In their 43 seasons as a team, the Caps have only managed to sweep the season series with the Sabres three times in 1988-89, 2012-13, 2016-17.

On Saturday, however, the Caps can make it four.

Buffalo visited Washington twice in December with the Caps winning each game. On Saturday, Washington heads to Buffalo for their final meeting of the season. (1 p.m., NBC Sports Washington).

Games notes

Hagelin debut

Carl Hagelin will make his Capitals debut Saturday.  He suited up for the first time with his new team on Friday after getting trade by the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday. He practice on the fourth line with Nic Dowd at center and Chandler Stephenson on the wing.

The newly acquired Nick Jensen will not be available for the game.

End of the road

Saturday’s game will be the sixth and final game of a season-long six-game road trip. Washington has already earned three wins guaranteeing them at least a .500 finish. A win Saturday will give them four out of six and turn a respectable road trip into a very good one.

Watching the standings

With two points, Washington can pull even with the New York Islanders. The Caps have 75 points while the Islanders sit in first place with 77. New York has a game in hand on Washington and they play later Saturday night, so a tie in the standings on Saturday afternoon could prove to be short-lived.

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Capitals send best wishes to now former teammate Madison Bowey

Capitals send best wishes to now former teammate Madison Bowey

Madison Bowey was traded to the Motor City earlier today as well as a second round draft pick for defenseman Nick Jensen and a fifth round draft pick. Washington promptly re-signed their new addition to a four-year, $10 million dollar contract.

After hearing the news about their teammate's departure, memebers of the Caps' took to social media to give their best wishes.

View this post on Instagram

good luck brother !!gonna miss u champ!!2

A post shared by Alexander Ovechkin (@aleksandrovechkinofficial) on

Bowey, a Stanley Cup champion, was a vital member of the 2018 Capitals' squad in their pursuit of the Cup.

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