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Capitals Prospect Report: Travis Boyd makes the most of his time in Hershey

Capitals Prospect Report: Travis Boyd makes the most of his time in Hershey

Players dream of one day making the NHL. Everyone knows how hard it is to get there, but few realize how difficult it can be to stay. Travis Boyd learned that first hand this season. After a full season in the NHL last year in which he played 61 games, Boyd was put on waivers after Evgeny Kuznetsov returned from suspension and sent to Hershey.

Boyd is not the first player to be sent back down to the AHL and he won’t be the last. Some players do not handle this well and their stats plummet. Boyd, however, took the opposite approach.

The best way to show you are an NHL player is by dominating the league below it and that is exactly what Boyd has been doing.

In two games with the Bears, he scored four goals and two assists. That performance earned him AHL Player of the Week honors.

On Wednesday, Richard Panik suffered an injury and was placed on long-term injured reserve. It was no surprise to see Boyd as the first forward to get called up.

The injury leaves Panik out of the lineup for at least 10 games. Head coach Todd Reirden said Friday that Boyd will travel with the team on its upcoming road trip. If he gets into a game, it is now up to him to do what he did in the AHL, prove he belongs.

With a total cap hit of only $800,000, Boyd would be doing the team a favor if he can outplay another player like Chander Stephenson has a larger cap hit. It all depends on what he can do with his opportunity.

Other prospect notes

  • In addition to Boyd, Martin Fehervary was also recalled on Friday with Jonas Siegenthaler being a game-time decision. Siegenthaler is expected to play on Friday, but it is worth keeping an eye on to see if the team tries to get Fehervary a game or two while they have cap flexibility with Panik on LTIR. It is doubtful he will stick around given that Tyler Lewington has a smaller cap hit. The salary cap house of cards likely does not work without Lewington’s $675,000, but this could be an opportunity to get Fehervary another game.
  • Tarik El-Bashir of The Athletic got a chance to speak with Pheonix Copley and Christian Djoos, two other players who did not expect to start the season in the AHL. You can read his story here.
  • Axel Jonsson-Fjallby scored two goals against the Toronto Marlies on Wednesday. His greatest asset is his speed and he used it on both goals. The first was a steal in the neutral zone that he was able to turn into a breakaway when he turned on the jets. The second was a breakout from the defensive zone. His speed put a lot of pressure on the defense and he never stopped going to the front of the net. He started the play and finished it with a tip-in for the goal. You can watch the highlights here: 
  • Defenseman Bobby Nardella has yet to play for Hershey this season. I was asked about this for this week’s Caps Mailbag so I reached out to a team official. There is no injury, the situation is just that there are nine defensemen on the roster and the top four is set with Alex Alexeyev, Erik Burgdoerfer, Djoos, and Fehervary. That leaves Lucas Johansen, Connor Hobbs, Colby Williams, Tobias Geisser and Nardella all fighting for those final two spots in the lineup. Is nine defensemen too many? I don’t know enough about the day-to-day operations of an AHL team to be able to answer that. It seems like it would be beneficial to send one or two of those nine to the ECHL to get more playing time, but that does not seem to be the plan for now. Maybe Fehervary going to Washington can get Nardella a game.
  • Alexeyev saw his chance to make the NHL out of camp evaporate after a hit to the head in the prospects showcase. El-Bashir caught up with him in Hershey to see how he is handling life with the Bears.
  • Connor McMichael has been named to the Team OHL roster for the Canada-Russia series. The series is an annual tournament for junior players from both Canada and Russia. Russia brings a team of junior players to Canada to play all-star rosters from the QMJHL, OHL, and WHL. The OHL team will play Russia on Nov. 7 and 11.
  • Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News expects this to be a big year for McMichael.
  • Eric Florchuk earned First Star honors for his performance on Monday. He led Saskatoon to a 9-3 win over Calgary with a hat-trick performance.

 

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Backstrom's back: Caps will get their top center back for Monday's game

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Backstrom's back: Caps will get their top center back for Monday's game

ARLINGTON, Va -- The Capitals are riding a six-game win streak and already have the most points in the NHL and now they will be adding one of their best players back into the lineup. Nicklas Backstrom said Sunday after practice that he is "ready to go" for Monday's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. It will be his first game since Nov. 18.

An upper-body injury forced Backstrom out of the lineup for the last eight games. Despite returning to practice during the team's road trip through California, he did not get into a game as the team preached caution with its star center. As the team returned home, Backstrom took line rushes on Sunday and both he and head coach Todd Reirden confirmed he would be back in for Monday's game.

"It was good to see him out there in full practice," Reirden said. "Did some drills specifically to help prepare him for tomorrow. He's good to go for tomorrow."

Backstrom said he knew when he woke up on Sunday that he was ready.

"As of today I'm good to go," he said. "I woke up and felt good. It's like that guy in 'Mighty Ducks,' I woke up, no pain."

It does not appear as if Backstrom will be eased back into the lineup as he skated on the top line in practice alongside Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson. Evgeny Kuznetsov had been playing in that spot, but the top line had grown stagnant. Ovechkin, Wilson and Kuznetsov combined for only one even-strength point in the past three games.

Barring something unexpected, the return of Backstrom should give the Caps their full lineup for the first time all season. Considering what the team has been able to accomplish thus far while having to shuffle the lineup because of injuries and suspensions, this has been an impressive start.

"I think that shows the depth that we have all the way through our lineup: forward, defenseman and our goaltending has been strong," Reirden said. "I think it's a clear understanding that it's a competitive situation that we've had since training camp that players are ready to take advantage of their opportunities that they get and they know that they need to otherwise there's a chance they could find themselves on the outside. The inner-competition we've had has probably helped push that a little bit. That's been a good problem to have, and it's allowed us to see some other players get opportunities and showcase some of the abilities they have."

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Capitals vs. Blue Jackets: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, how to watch

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals vs. Blue Jackets: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, how to watch

With three straight wins in their California trip, the Capitals are coming back to some much-needed home cooking. Washington will look to win their seventh game in a row.

The Blue Jackets are on a three-game losing skid and will look to get themselves out of the Metro Division basement with a much-needed win.

Can the Caps keep their winning streak going? Tune in to find out.

CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, DC

When: Monday, December 9, 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals-Blue Jackets game will be broadcast on NBC Sports. (NBC Sports channel finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Blues preseason on NBC Sports live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

CAPITALS-BLUES TV SCHEDULE:

6:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live

6:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live

7:00 PM: Capitals vs. Blue Jackets (LIVE)

9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live

10:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live

10:30 PM: Caps Overtime Live

CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS INJURY REPORT:

Capitals: C Nicklas Backstrom, upper-body injury, day-to-day

Blue Jackets: RW Brandon Dubinsky, wrist, long-term injured reserve

D Markus Nutivaara, upper-body injury, injured reserve

D Zach Werenski, upper-body injury, injured reserve

CAPITALS AT BLUE JACKETS PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Jonas Siegenthaler, D, Capitals (1-4-5)

While all the attention paid to the Caps defense is on John Carlson, Siegenthaler is quietly putting together a stout campaign. As part of the penalty-killing unit and on the third pairing with Radko Gudas, Siegenthaler could have a busy night ahead of him.

Seth Jones, D, Blue Jackets (4-12-16)

The son of former-NBA player Popeye Jones, Seth is making noise around the NHL for his steady play on the defensive end with his playmaking abilities on offense. He'll be quarterbacking the Columbus powerplay.

Pierre-Luc Dubois, F, Blue Jackets (10-8-18)

Chosen third overall in the 2016 entry draft, Dubois currently leads Columbus in points this season. He's been shut down for the last five games, recording only one assist, so he'll be looking to get his scoring touch back.

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