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Capitals Prospect Report: Why the preseason matters

NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Prospect Report: Why the preseason matters

If you watch him in practice, forward prospect Beck Malenstyn’s skills don’t immediately stand out. Neither do his stats. In 18 games with the Hershey Bears this season, Malenstyn has three goals and three assists. And yet, when the Capitals found themselves in injury trouble and in need of bodies not just to serve as healthy scratches but to actually play, Malenstyn got the call.

The Caps have had need of a few players from Hershey already this season. Travis Boyd has been recalled twice and plugged into the lineup, Liam O’Brien was recalled to be a healthy scratch and sent back down to Hershey without playing. But on Wednesday in New York, with Garnet Hathaway suspended and Nicklas Backstrom, Carl Hagelin and Nic Dowd all out injured, Washington needed reinforcements to play against the Rangers. They did not call on O’Brien who has previous NHL experience, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby who has scored five goals this season or Shane Gersich who jumped into the Caps lineup when he was signed in 2018. They called on Malenstyn and it is not hard to figure out why.

Malenstyn was one of the standout performers for the Caps in the preseason and Reirden raved about back in September.

“I like the energy he brings,” Reirden said after a preseason game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sept. 16. “I've liked him for a few years now. ... I just love having him around our room, he's a great kid, really hard worker, passionate. I definitely gravitate towards that type of guy. He can change momentum of a game with his speed, he's physical.”

The NHL preseason is fun to watch because you get a chance to see so many prospects who you otherwise don’t get a chance to see because they play for their junior teams or in the minors. Those brief glimpses can leave on impression not just on the fans or the media, but the coaches as well.

Between O’Brien, Jonsson-Fjallby, Gersich and Malenstyn, Malenstyn easily was the most impressive in an actual game setting. So it was no surprise then, when the Caps needed not just bodies but a player, that Malenstyn was among those who got the call. He delivered energy on Wednesday and fired three shots on goal on Henrik Lundqvist. He nearly scored on a short breakaway opportunity.

The preseason can seem long and tedious when everyone just wants to get into the regular season, but for those prospects trying to leave an impression, the preseason matters a whole heck of a lot.

Other prospect notes

  • The injury woes continue for the Caps. Malenstyn and Michael Sgarbossa remain with the team. In addition, Christian Djoos was recalled to Washington and Tyler Lewington was reassigned to Hershey. In 18 games with the Bears, Djoos has tallied one goal and 10 assists.
  • Riley Sutter, who was injured before the season began, finally made his AHL debut on Nov. 15.
  • Vincent Gibbons of McKeen’s Hockey wrote a profile on Alex Alexeyev:

Alexeyev is a great story wrapped in a very good player who has all the tools to be a top four defender in the NHL. He has good size, skates very well, and has more snarl in his game then most give him credit for. Couple all that with a defender who is an excellent passer both in his own zone as well as when quarterbacking a power play, and he shows real promise. He has had some injury trouble the past couple of seasons and had a tragic loss as his mother passed away mid-season in his draft year. Despite so many ups and downs he has been one of the top defenders in the WHL since his arrival from Russia. He projects as playing both sides of special teams although maybe on second units and he could be a very solid second pairing defender.

  • With all the goalie shuffling on the rosters, the result was that Pheonix Copley was called upon to play all three of Hershey’s games last week. He went 1-1-1 despite posting an incredible 0.98 GAA and .959 save percentage in those games. He was named Hershey’s player of the week.
  • Stats update: Aliaksei Protas leads the WHL in points with 34. Connor McMichael is tied for the OHL points lead with 46.


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Capitals at Wild: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Capitals at Wild: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Capitals head to the midwest Sunday to take on the Minnesota Wild. The Caps' offense struggled against the Jets on Thursday, but as new players continue to gel and with the celebration of Alex Ovechkin’s 700th goal behind them, all eyes will be on the Caps to see what they do next. 

Here is everything you need to know about the matchup, which takes place at 7 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.


WHAT: Washington Capitals vs. Minnesota Wild

Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minnesota

When: Sunday, March 1, 7:00 E.T. 

TV Channel: The Capitals at Wild game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder

Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals vs. Wild on NBC Sports Washington's Live stream page and on the NBC Sports App

Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM


Wild: Luke Kunin: Upper-body

Wild: Carson Soucy: Upper-body


7:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live

7:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live

8:00 PM: Capitals vs. Jets (LIVE)

10:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live 

11:00 PM: Chasing Greatness

11:30 PM: Caps Overtime Live


Alex Ovechkin, F, Capitals (43-17-60): Fresh off the celebration of his 700th goal, everyone will be looking to Ovi to keep the energy going. 

Jared Spurgeon, D, Wild, (10-18-28): Since Jan. 18, Spurgeon has scored eight goals, the most among NHL defensemen. The Caps need to keep an eye on him, both the defense and offense. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.


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New Capital Brenden Dillon doesn't miss a beat during pregame handshakes

New Capital Brenden Dillon doesn't miss a beat during pregame handshakes

Prior to Thursday night's game against the Jets, the Capitals got ready by partaking in a pregame ritual of handshakes, and it seems new Capitals defenseman Brenden Dillon already has it down.

The Capitals are already known for having an impressive number of pregame handshakes, but with the addition of Dillion at the trade deadline, it seems things have become even more complicated. 

In the video of a hallway at Winnipeg's stadium, Dillon is seen fist-bumping a few of his teammates, fixing his hair with Carl Hagelin, giving a little more intricate handshake to Tom Wilson and tapping sticks with Alex Ovechkin. 

While all of this is going on, more players in the back of the video start doing their own handshakes. Glad to see Dillon fitting in so well with his new teammates.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.