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Key Caps questions: Are Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey ready for everyday roles?

Key Caps questions: Are Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey ready for everyday roles?

The dog days of summer are officially here, but it's never too hot to talk some hockey.

Capitals correspondent JJ Regan is here to help you through the offseason doldrums as he discusses key questions facing the Caps for the upcoming season as Washington prepares to defend its title for the first time in franchise history.

Today's question: Are Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey ready to be everyday NHL players?

Both Djoos and Bowey looked like players who could break into the NHL lineup last season and both did. The results were largely impressive for two young rookie players on the blue line.

Let's start with Djoos. Djoos ultimately played in 63 games with three goals and 14 total points. His size was a concern all season long, but the fact that he was able to step in and play 22 games in the playoffs when the play becomes very physical, that's a good sign. He's never going to be a physical juggernaut, but he appears to be a smart enough a player to mitigate the physical disadvantage of being only 169 pounds.

Bowey's season was much more up and down. He played in 51 games with 12 points, is still looking for his first NHL goal and did not play at all in the postseason. It is important to remember, however, that Bowey was put in some difficult situations.

Despite clearly being one of six best defensemen in training camp, Bowey found himself in Hershey to start the 2017-18 season because he was waiver exempt and the Caps were up against the salary cap. He was recalled after Matt Niskanen suffered an injury and, because it was a back-to-back for Washington, was thrust into the lineup the same day against Philadelphia in what turned into a blowout loss for the Caps.

Something else to consider is that Djoos played much more sheltered minutes than Bowey. One way to measure this is by comparing how many offensive zone face-offs a player was on the ice for versus how many defensive zone faceoffs. If a defenseman is on the ice for significantly more offensive zone face-offs, that is a reflection of how a coach is utilizing him and sheltering him from more defensive responsibilities.

Per Natural Stattrick, in the regular season at 5-on-5 play, 60.43-percent of the faceoffs Djoos was on the ice for were in the offensive zone (note: this stat excludes neutral zone face-offs and focuses only on the percentage of offensive and defensive face-offs). That's the highest among all of the team's defensemen including Taylor Chorney and Aaron Ness. That's higher even than Alex Ovechkin who we know is not typically used in defensive situations. Bowey's percentage was 54.62, fourth among the team's defensemen.

Djoos may have had the more impressive season, but it seems Bowey was much more trusted in his own end. I bring this up not to discredit Djoos, but to show Bowey had a tougher season last year because he was given tougher minutes. This was also reflected in the fact that the team re-signed Bowey with a two-year, one-way contract. Clearly he is expected to play in the NHL this season.

While I do believe they are ready for bigger roles, I do not anticipate either playing 82 games next season even if they are healthy.

With Michal Kempny and John Carlson back, the team's top-four is pretty much set with Kempny-Carlson and Dmitry Orlov-Matt Niskanen as the top two pairs. As much faith as the team may have in both Djoos and Bowey, they are not ready to be their own pair. We will no doubt see it at times this season, but for the most part, I would expect a cycle between Djoos, Bowey and Brooks Orpik throughout the campaign.

So, to answer the question, do I believe both players are ready for everyday roles? Yes. Will both players end up playing every game when healthy? Probably not.

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Capitals vs. Ducks Game 23: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

Capitals vs. Ducks Game 23: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

It is Week 10 of the hockey season.

The Capitals are sitting at 15-2, having just added another win after their last game against the Boston Bruins, a dramatic 3-2 shootout victory. 

The Capitals will be hosting the Anaheim Ducks at the Capital One Arena Monday night. Currently, the Ducks have a 10-9 record, just beating the St. Louis Blues 4-1 on Saturday. 

Now, here is all the information you need to know in order to watch Monday night’s game.

CAPITALS vs. DUCKS HOW TO WATCH:

What: Washington Capitals vs. Anaheim Ducks

Where: Capital One Arena

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: The Capitals vs. Ducks game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

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

Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, SiriusXM Channel 91, Streaming 920

CAPITALS vs. DUCKS TV SCHEDULE:

6:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live

6:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live

7:00 PM: NHL: Anaheim Ducks @ Capitals

9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live

10:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live

10:30 PM: Caps Overtime Live

CAPITALS vs. DUCKS INJURY REPORT:

Capitals:

C Nick Dowd, upper body, out

LW Carl Hagelin, upper body, out

Ducks:

D Hampus Lindholm, undisclosed, injury reserve

RW Ondrej Kase, jaw injury, day-to-day 

CAPITALS vs. DUCKS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Capitals:

John Carlson, D: John Carlson's eight goals make him the team's highest-scoring defender, and his 24 assists lead the Capitals.

Alex Ovechkin, LW: Ovechkin leads the team with 14 goals this season. Ovechkin also is in fourth on the team with 10 assists.

Ducks: 

Jakob Silfverberg, LW: Team-leader in goals made this season racking up nine goals. Tied for the most assists, with eight. 

Rickard Rakell, C: Contributed 14 points, the second-most on the Ducks, and shares the tie with eight assists. 

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Caps finally solve Halak for improbable shootout win

Caps finally solve Halak for improbable shootout win

The Capitals needed a goal from T.J. Oshie with less than a minute remaining to force overtime on Saturday where they would go on to defeat the Boston Bruins 3-2 in a shootout.

It looked like Jaroslav Halak would once again pull off a miraculous win as he turned aside 42 shots, but the Caps kept up the pressure late to tie the game and get back in the win column.

Saturday's win is now Washington's 15th in the last 16 contests against the Bruins.

Here is how the Caps won.

Boyd makes the most of his opportunity

On Friday, Travis Boyd was a Hershey Bear. With Nic Dowd and Carl Hagelin both injured but without enough money under the cap for Boyd, the Caps recalled Tyler Lewington on Friday and skated seven defensemen and only 11 forwards against the Montreal Canadiens. On Saturday, the team sent Lewington and Ilya Samsonov to Hershey and recalled Vitek Vanecek and Boyd. The extra cap space the team gained from Vanecek taking Samsonov's spot allowed them to recall Boyd and skate four full forward lines. The impact of Boyd's addition was felt in the first period when Boyd scored a deflection to beat Halak and get the Caps on the board.

In seven games with the Caps this season, Boyd has one goal and four assists.

Caps get their power play setup on 6-on-5

For much of the night, the Caps just could not figure out Halak. They poured on the shots, but he was there each time and looked like he would be able to lead his team to the narrow victory. Late in regulation, the Caps pulled Braden Holtby for the extra attacker and the Caps gave Boston a power play look.

Washington had its top power play unit on the ice plus Tom Wilson. The goal looked like one right out of the power play's playbook with Evgeny Kuznetsov behind the goal line feeding Oshie in the slot. Oshie is great at getting those quick shots away from in close and he finally beat Halak with 59 seconds remaining.

Oshie was instrumental in setting up the goal as well as he blocked a clearing attempt from Zdeno Chara with his glove to keep the puck in the offensive zone just seconds before Kuznetsov set him up for the goal.

Backstrom and Vrana deliver in the shootout

Washington scored only twice on the shootout, but that would be all they needed.

The normally automatic Oshie was stopped on his shootout attempt putting Washington behind early on.I n a score-or-go-home situation for Nicklas Backstrom, he managed to sneak a shot in between the glove and the pad of Halak to force extra rounds of the shootout. Then Jakub Vrana pulled off one of the nices shootout goals you will ever see.

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