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MacLellan provides injury updates on Oshie, Kempny and Alexeyev and the news is all good

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MacLellan provides injury updates on Oshie, Kempny and Alexeyev and the news is all good

The Capitals' season came to an end earlier than expected with their first-round loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. The end of the season came even earlier for Michal Kempny and T.J. Oshie due to injuries, but the latest updates on their recovery is all positive, according to Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan.

Kempny tore his hamstring during a regular season game against the Tampa Bay Lightning when he was taken down to the ice by Lightning forward Cedric Paquette. He underwent surgery in April and was given a timetable of about four to six months which would put him in danger of missing training camp, the preseason and even perhaps the start of the regular season.

MacLellan said Thursday, however, that he expects Kempny ready for training camp.

“It's wait and see, but we're expecting him to be available for camp,” MacLellan said via conference call. “He's progressing well. I haven't got an update over the last week or so, but before that he's on target to play in training camp.”

Kempny’s absence in the playoffs forced the entire defense to reshuffle. It was not until Jonas Siegenthaler was bumped into the top pair in Game 5 of the series that the blue line found any sort of consistency at all. Kempny's presence at training camp will be important for the defense to get off on the right foot.

The prognosis is even better for Oshie who MacLellan says is already back to working out.

“I think he'll be ready for start of training camp,” MacLellan said. “Last I heard, he was healthy and working out at our practice rink and doing well. But yeah, he'll be ready for training camp for sure.”

A nasty hit to the back from Carolina forward Warren Foegele in Game 4 of their playoff series knocked Oshie awkwardly into the boards fracturing his clavicle. Oshie underwent a surgical procedure in April and was said to be out indefinitely.

The news was also good on the prospect front as MacLellan said 2018 first-round pick Alex Alexeyev had avoided major injury after a scary looking knee-on-knee collision ended his WHL season in March. The young defenseman had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher following the play.

Just three months later, however, MacLellan says Alexeyev will be healthy for Washington’s development camp that will be held from June 24-29.

“[Alexeyev’s] healthy,” MacLellan said. “I don't think it was as bad as initially expected. He'll be at development camp here and fully healthy.”

That is a major bullet dodged for the Caps as Alexeyev is widely considered one of the team’s top prospects. In its futures edition, The Hockey News ranked Alexeyev No. 2 among Caps’ prospects behind goalie Ilya Samsonov. A serious knee injury would have been a serious blow to the future of a potential star player.


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Caps at Canadiens: Washington returns to action without Ovechkin

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Caps at Canadiens: Washington returns to action without Ovechkin

With the bye week and the NHL all-star break now over, it is back to business for the Capitals (33-11-5) who return to take on the Montreal Canadiens (22-21-7) on the road in Montreal. Tune in to NBC Sports Washington for all of the action. Pregame coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Caps FaceOff followed by Caps Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. which will take you up to the 7 p.m. puck drop. Stick with NBC Sports Washington after the game for postgame coverage with Caps Postgame Live, D.C. Sports Live and Caps Overtime Live.

Here is what you need to know for Monday’s game.

In case you forgot

The Caps have not played since Jan. 18 so in case you need a refresher, Washington entered the bye week on a three-game winning streak. The final game before the break was an incredible come-from-behind win over the New York Islanders in which Washington erased a 4-1 deficit in the third period to win 6-4 in regulation. The team now returns from the bye still with the top record in the NHL with 71 points.

Washington currently boasts a one-point lead (with two games in hand) over the Boston Bruins for first in the conference and a four-point lead (with one game in hand) over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

No Ovechkin

For the first time this season, the Caps will be without Alex Ovechkin who is serving a one-game suspension for his decision not to attend the All-Star Game. That is about the only thing that can slow him down at this point as he scored eight goals in three games heading into the bye week.

Here is what the lines looked like without Ovechkin at the morning skate, per Samantha Pell:

Richard Panik - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin - Lars Eller - Travis Boyd
Brendan Leipsic - Nic Dowd - Garnet Hathaway

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Nick Jensen
Jonas Siegenthaler - Radko Gudas

Holtby in net

Braden Holtby, fresh off his appearance in the All-Star Game, will start in the first game back from the break. Heading into the bye week, Ilya Samsonov started two out of three games and came on in relief for Holtby in the only game in which he did not start. Holtby, however, remains the No. 1 for now as Todd Reirden continues to handle his rookie netminder with kid gloves.

Down the final stretch of the season, it is likely we see more of a split between the two netminders than we saw through the first 49 games (Holtby started 33 of those 49 games), but it remains unlikely Samsonov begins shouldering a bulk of the load barring any injury or a complete collapse by Holtby.

When last we met

Monday's game will be the second of three meetings against Montreal this season. These two teams last met on Nov. 15, a game in which the Canadiens won 5-2 to snap Washington's 13-game point streak. 

In a 0-0 game, Ovechkin smoked forward Jonathan Drouin with a huge hit that seemed to wake up Montreal which scored about two minutes later and would go on to score the first four goals of the game.

Here's a recap of that loss.

The power play is...still bad

The bye week was nice in that it gave everyone a break from having to think about how bad the power play has been. Now, however, it is back to reality.

Since Dec. 1, Washington's power play ranks 30th in the NHL at 14.1-percent. That is something the team needs to turn around quickly.

The Price is right

Carey Price is one of the best goalies in the world, but he has not looked like it all too often this season with a .908 save percentage. Having said that, he has been lights out in 2020 with a .935 save percentage since Jan. 1.

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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Alex Ovechkin on the death of Kobe Bryant: 'I still can't believe it'

Alex Ovechkin on the death of Kobe Bryant: 'I still can't believe it'

Capitals star Alex Ovechkin was at a loss for words Sunday afternoon when discussing the horrific passing of Lakers' legend Kobe Bryant.

"I was hoping that it was not true," Ovechkin said. "He always treated me well."

Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash Sunday morning outside Los Angeles, authorities confirmed on Sunday. He was 41 years old.

Ovi was visibly shaken while talking about his relationship with Bryant, disclosing that he had met him "three or four times", including in March of 2016 while in Los Angeles to play the Kings, when he and tennis star Novak Djokovic took a photo with Bryant.

Ovechkin was just one of many members of the Washington D.C. sports world that was taken aback by the news of Bryant's sudden passing.

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.