WASHINGTON -- The Capitals opened their preseason with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Boston Bruins on Sunday as Hendrix Lapierre and Connor McMichael were denied in the shootout. Here's a look at who impressed in the preseason opener.
Lapierre was, by far, the most impressive prospect on the ice for Washington. He showed off his vision, speed and hands in an impressive performance that shows the potential that made him a first-round draft pick. He recorded one assist, a secondary assist off an offensive zone faceoff win. The assist came less than five minutes into the game, but Lapierre was more impressive as the game went along and his confidence grew.
Lapierre played the half-wall on the second power play, the spot that Nicklas Backstrom makes look easy. This is the quarterback of the Caps' power play and on Washington's first opportunity, Lapierre found that it is not quite as easy to thread the needle to the office on the cross-ice pass as Backstrom makes it look. But Lapierre looked more and more comfortable as the game went along and, by the time the Caps got back on the power play, Lapierre hit Connor McMichael in the office for a great opportunity.
"I think I can use my offensive abilities on the power play and I feel comfortable at pretty much every spot so I think we got some good looks," Lapierre said.
“I thought he was good," Peter Laviolette said. "He attacked the game at times with his speed. ... I thought he was noticeable offensively. He did change his gears quite a bit and got going with the puck, had a couple of nice plays to help out on the scoring sheet."
The faceoffs need some work and he was denied in the shootout, but otherwise a really solid game for Lapierre.
Snively scored Washington's first goal and it was an impressive effort. A shot from Has was left hanging in the high slot and both Bruins defensemen tried to box out the Caps. While Urho Vaakanainen managed to keep Brian Pinho at bay, Tyler Lewington could not keep a streaking Snively from getting to the puck. Snively then managed to shoot it past goalie Jeremy Swayman while he was falling on a great individual effort.
Snively and Lapierre seemed to have some really good chemistry together and Lapierre set up Snively for another good opportunity in the second period.
"We've been practicing together the last week and [Lapierre's] a very dynamic player," Snively said. "When you saw him, he was great tonight at such young age so I love playing with him. It was a lot of fun."
An injury kept Malenstyn out for the entire 2021 season, but you could not tell from his performance on Sunday.
If Malenstyn makes it to the NHL, it will be as a fourth-line player. Exactly what he would provide was on full display. Malenstyn is an absolute pest, but in a good way. He looked great on the forecheck, constantly pressuring the defensemen and managed to get behind the defense to wash out an icing call in the second period. He drew an interference penalty off of Vaakanainen and gave a love tap to Lewington after the whistle.
"I thought he was really notable with his physicality," Laviolette said. "He got in and he popped some bodies on the forecheck. Got it behind them, was able to get in, cycle the puck, turnover pucks, create havoc in the offensive zone."
PIlon was named specifically by general manager Brian MacLellan in the summer as a player who could get a call-up this season and you could see why in this game. Playing on a line with Conor Sheary and Lars Eller, Pilon did not look out of place or a step behind his NHL linemates. He showed quick hands in the third period switching to the backhand on a quick move to get a shooting lane and then scoring the tying goal on goalie Troy Grosenick with the backhand shot.
Trevor van Riemsdyk
With Brenden Dillon and Zdeno Chara gone, that leaves two open spots on the defense heading into the season. But both MacLellan and Peter Laviolette spoke glowingly of van Riemsdyk at media day and made clear the competition is for one spot on defense because van Riemsdyk has already claimed the other.
Van Riemsdyk was not bad by any stretch. He showed good hands and good vision. He held the blue line well in the offensive zone, but Sunday's game was not the dominant performance that should shut the door on any type of roster battle on defense.
Fehervary is trying to break into the NHL as it looks like there's nothing left for him to prove at the AHL level. Sunday's game started poorly with an early turnover on the game's first shift, leading to an early chance for Boston.
"That turnover was fun, but then I just shake it off and I think I had a good game," Fehervary said.
Fehervary's play improved as the game went along, but there were times when it looked like he was drawn out of position looking to make a physical play. He recorded an assist on PIlon's tying goal.
“I thought he got better as the game went on," Laviolette said. "It was a couple handles early in the game, puck handles early, but that could’ve been jitters or ice or anything. From that, I thought he responded well. What really makes Marty noticeable sometimes, I think he’s explosive the way he skates. He can be almost flat-footed or have to turn and pivot and go after somebody, and yet he covers that ice really quick because he can explode with his strides. So his skating really helps him out and you could see that tonight.”
With Nicklas Backstrom injured, the Caps are thin at center. At 26 years old and with four games of NHL experience, Pinho had a chance to impress the coaches on Sunday and put his name into consideration for a call-up. He had no shots on goal, and one penalty over 11:50 of ice time.
McIlrath's game ended early in the third period when he was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for a hit to the head of Bruins forward Steven Fogarty. The game ended a lackluster performance that saw McIlrath beaten on the doorstep for Boston's first goal. With the puck loose, McIlrath tried to take out the body of Connor Clifton. Clifton took the hit while Jake DeBrusk took the puck and scored.
Losing Dillon and Chara means the Caps have lost a lot of size on the blue line. While Kempny and Fehervary are ahead of McIlrath on the depth chart, perhaps a player who is 6-foot-4, 235 pounds with 66 games of NHL experience could garner some consideration. Sunday's performance, however, was not encouraging.