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Capitals prospect report: Vanecek an All-Star, Alexeyev, Fehervary impress at the World Junior Championship

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals prospect report: Vanecek an All-Star, Alexeyev, Fehervary impress at the World Junior Championship

Alex Alexeyev is putting on a show at the World Junior Championship.

Playing for Team Russia, Alexeyev has six points (two goals, four assists) in five games. That ranks second among all defensemen at the tournament and is just two points off the pace set by the tournament’s leading scorers.

The Caps’ first round draft pick from 2018 scored his second goal of the tournament on Wednesday in a quarterfinal matchup against Slovakia. The goal was of the highlight variety as he carried the puck along the boards and cut to the middle so quick, forward Milos Kelemen who was tracking Alexeyev actually fell to the ice.

Alexeyev literally deked a player to the ground.

After Wednesday’s win, Russia advances to the semifinals on Thursday and will play USA.

Russia’s win over Slovakia ended the tournament for another Caps prospect, Martin Fehervary. Fehervary captained Slovakia and also looked impressive throughout the tournament with one goal and four assists in five games.

Both Alexeyev and Fehervary were named All-Stars of the tournament on Monday by TSN’s Craig Button. Of Alexeyev, Button wrote, “His smart, calm and poised puck play in all three zones has been a steadying element for the entire team.”

Button described Fehervary as an “Excellent skater who takes the initiative and drives the play for Slovakia from the defensive zone, in transition and in the offensive zone.”

CAPITALS PROSPECT NOTES:

  • The Caps had a third prospect at the junior championship in Tobias Geisser. Geisser was loaned to Switzerland, but has not appeared in any games in the tournament due to an injury concern. It is not yet clear what that injury is.
     
  • Hershey goalie Goalie Vitek Vanecek was selected to the represent the Atlantic Division in the 2019 AHL All-Star Classic. It is the first time he has been selected as an All-Star. Vanecek is 7-7-2, with a .909 save percentage, 2.55 GAA (eighth in the AHL) and one shutout. The AHL All-Star Game festivities will take place Jan. 27-28 in Springfield, Mass.
     
  • Tyler Lewington certainly left an impression in his first NHL call-up. In his second NHL game ever on Saturday, he recorded his first NHL goal, assist and fight for a Gordie Howe hat trick. He is back in the AHL now with the Hershey Bears which is ultimately where his talent dictates he should be, but it’s hard not to be impressed by how he played in his two NHL games. His play may have earned him a call-up for the next injury in the not too distant future.
     
  • Take a guess at who Hershey’s top scorer was for the month of December. It wasn’t Riley Barber or Liam O’Brien, but defenseman Aaron Ness. Ness recorded 13 points in 13 games (1 goal, 12 assists). He leads all Hershey defensemen in points with 19 on the season.
     
  • Goalie Ilya Samsonov turned in arguably his best game of the season on Sunday as he turned aside 22 shots in a 2-1 win over Providence. It was the first time Samsonov had held an opponent to only one goal in the AHL. In fact, he had allowed at least three goals in each of his past seven appearances, going only 1-6-0 in that stretch.
     
  • Axel Jonsson-Fjallby is struggling. Since returning to his SHL team, he has yet to score through 12 games. An article from the Swedish outlet Expressen tried to get to the root of the problem and…well, if what it says is true regarding what Jonsson-Fjallby’s expectations were this season, then Caps fans should be concerned. The translation of the article is rough as it comes from Google Translate, but the gist of it is that he came to North America after a breakout postseason performance in the SHL under the assumption he would be in the NHL. It does not seem like he was expecting to be sent to Hershey. Jonsson-Fjallby has tremendous speed, but the North American game takes some time to adjust to. To think he would simply step into an NHL lineup, especially for a championship team that returned most of its roster, seems presumptive. Hopefully, someone gets in his ear in the offseason and he comes to training camp next season with more realistic expectations for what his role will be and what it will take to get there. I do not foresee him coming back next season and stepping right into the NHL without any time in the AHL.
     
  • Chase Priskie recorded his 100th career NCAA point. Here’s what his head coach, Rand Pecknold, had to say about him: “He’s such a high character person. I think he had a 3.95 GPA last semester. He’s going to graduate with his undergraduate and MBA in six years of schooling in four, you can’t say enough good things about him. He’s been a great captain, obviously having a great year. He’s been our best player this year.”
     
  • Benton Maass has missed the last six games for New Hampshire due to a shoulder injury, but head coach Mike Souza said Maass will return to action this weekend.
     
  • Steven Spinner has missed the last four games for Nebraska Omaha. He is serving a six-game suspension imposed to him by the team for a violation of team rules.

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Despite re-aggravating injury at Worlds, Lars Eller healthy heading to training camp

Despite re-aggravating injury at Worlds, Lars Eller healthy heading to training camp

ARLINGTON, Va. — A lower-body injury limited Lars Eller in the playoffs and cut his World Championship short after just three games, but it is not going to limit him heading into training camp.

“I’m over that,” Eller told NBC Sports Washington. “Taken good care of that and it’s not an issue right now.”

Eller was at MedStar Captials Iceplex on Thursday taking part in an informal skate with several teammates who have begun to trickle back to Washington as the start of training camp approaches. Eller took part in all drills, the scrimmage and the conditioning skate seemingly without issue.

The lower-body injury was not enough to keep him out of the playoffs last season, but he did take several maintenance days.

“I've been battling something,” Eller said in April at the team’s breakdown day. “Something that's been bugging me. A little bit of rest these next couple of weeks. Just have to take care of it. It doesn't require surgery, it's nothing serious, just with some rest over time, it will be fine, I believe.”

Despite the need for rest, Eller elected to play for Denmark in the IIHF World Championship soon after.

“Giving it some time, I felt I was healthy enough to go and play,” Eller siad. “I still kind of wanted to play and help my country and after some time, I felt good enough to say, OK, I'm going to do this.”

Initially, Eller did not appear limited at all with four points in his first game. By the third game, however, he was forced to withdraw from the tournament.

Despite a report from Denmark claiming Eller had an agreement in place to play in only three games, he said the decision was made to leave the tournament after he re-aggravated the injury.

“Reaggravated it and we just shut it down after those three games and really took time to properly rehab and build my program around that for the first many weeks and get treatment, try to make sure it doesn't come back to bite me,” Eller said.

Leaving Worlds has given Eller plenty of time to heal which is good because he will face a new challenge this year.

Gone are Brett Connolly who was a mainstay on Eller’s line which means Eller will have to get used to some different linemates in the upcoming season.

“It's going to be different,” Eller said. “Both [Connolly and Andre Burakovsky are] two guys I probably spent the most time here with the last three years. We had some really good success all three of us at times. That's going to be a new challenge. I have a good feeling about the guys I'm likely going to play with. It's just a new challenge, but I feel good about it.”

The first step to adjusting to a new line? Getting healthy. A lengthy summer seems to have helped with that.

Though unfortunate, the early playoff exit gave Washington a long offseason in which players like Eller could focus on rest and rehab. That is time Eller tried to take advantage of before the grind of another season and what he hopes will be another long postseason run.

“A little longer than last year,” he said of the summer. “All the time I needed to get away and also get the body right for the season.”

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Caps Goal of the Year Bracket: Dowd's Alley-Oop to Hagelin vs Connolly Curl-and-Drag

Caps Goal of the Year Bracket: Dowd's Alley-Oop to Hagelin vs Connolly Curl-and-Drag

With less than a month before training camp opens in mid-September, we are taking one last look back at the 2018-19 season as we dive into the best goals of last year. We compiled our bracket based on the cumulative rankings of our Capitals team, from reporters to producers and everyone in between, and now is your turn to help us determine the best Capitals goal of 2018-19. Below is a Slack conversation between the members of our Capitals content team.

jmurph: Day 4 of our bracket brings us two goals from the third line. Our 4 seed is Nic Dowd's long-distance backhand flip to spring Carl Hagelin for a breakaway up against our 13-seeded Brett Connolly curl-and-drag past the Senators. Where do we start today?

JJ Regan: This is a tough one. I love a good curl and drag, but the pass is a beauty. A good pass to launch a breakaway is tough, but to do it with an alley-oop backhand? That's pretty sweet.

jmurph: Spoiler alert, this is not the only Dowd backhand sauce flip in our bracket but this one was the more impressive one I think

It may be that I have a soft spot for Brett Connolly, but I love the curl and drag. A confident Connolly was one of my favorite things to watch about the Caps

Ryan Billie: No brainer for me (which is good). I've been in love with that Dowd pass since that game... was a thing of beauty.

Rob Carlin: This is like a 5-12 or 7-10 matchup. I’d say Hags is the favorite. But it’s hard to say who will win. That Conno curl & drag was a beauty

bmcnally: If this was just Dowd casually flipping a puck up ice and letting one of the fastest players in the league skate onto it I'd be a little less impressed. Instead I'm sitting here laughing at the skill level of this whole play. You can see him look up and ID what's happening and basically puts it tape-to-tape on a backhand.

jmurph: A backhand that he lifted over 4 players mind you

Ryan Billie: Nope... nope... nope... that pass from Dowd. This is a 5-12 matchup that turns out to be a dog game because the Dowd pass WAS SICK.

bmcnally: And it's a great finish by Hagelin, too, at full speed.

JJ Regan: It's a Hail Mary that hits the receiver in stride.

Rob Carlin: I agree. The pass was insane. And they got Hags for plays just like this one. But close your eyes and imagine that curl & drag was —— Ovi. We’d be showing that on a loop in our brains.

mvioli: Connolly’s curl and drag was pretty, great patience. But how often do you see a successful alley-oop in hockey? Dowd to Hags has to win.

jmurph: We're gonna see it again in a few days!

JJ Regan: I think that's what does it for me. Curl and drags are awesome, but we see those. These passes? You just don't see them all that often.

Rob Carlin: I agree the Dowd play was sick. Might win the whole thing (if the other Dowd sauce doesn’t win). I’m just saying the Conno goal got a tough draw. It would win most matchups

Ryan Billie: I really like the curl and drag. But the Hags goal also was a game winner... does that carry any extra weight?

jmurph: Context? C'mon Billie

bmcnally: Yeah definitely don't want to undersell Connolly here. That's an amazing use of the curl and drag and a snipe to finish. I just can't get over that Nic Dowd is apparently just GOOD at these kind of passes and not lucky.

mvioli: Exactly. I agree with Rob that Conno got a tough draw here, but that Dowd pass was just too good.

Rob Carlin: As someone who is clearly carrying extra weight myself, I agree the game winning aspect plays into this! Big play in a big moment.

So we all agree.....

Ryan Billie: ^^^

Rob Carlin: Dowd

jmurph: It's summer weight, it doesn't count

Ryan Billie: DOWWWWWD

mvioli: Definitely Dowd

JJ Regan: Dowd.

bmcnally: Dowd

jmurph: Sorry Conno, but it's Dowd

Rob Carlin: But good luck in Florida!

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