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NHL Power Rankings: Still on track

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NHL Power Rankings: Still on track

Bringing home two points out of a possible six on a three-game road trip is not a great result. The Caps won only one of their three games in California. As they are locked in a tight division race, leaving four points on the table could prove costly.

But there are a few reasons why fans should not be overly upset about how the Caps performed in California.

CHECK OUT THIS WEEK'S UPDATED NHL POWER RANKINGS

First, Washington went 0-3-0 last season on the California gauntlet. Managing even two points is not insignificant, especially when those two points came in San Jose where the Caps had not earned a regulation win in nearly 25 years. Second, Philipp Grubauer played well in his two starts. He stopped 50 of the 52 shots he faced and earned the shutout win against the Sharks. The immediacy of getting Braden Holtby back on track is relieved somewhat by Grubauer's play. While getting Holtby over his slump remains one of the top priorities until the playoffs begin, Washington at least can feel comfortable with letting Grubauer play this out as long as he needs to.

Third, and most important, the road trip did not do all that much damage to the Caps in the standings.

Washington returns home in second place in the Metropolitan Division trailing the Pittsburgh Penguins by one point with two games in hand. The Philadelphia Flyers trail the Caps by two points and have played one more game than Washington.

There are no moral victories in professional sports. The California road trip was not a successful one for the Caps, but there are enough positives to come from it that it may not be as disastrous as some fans think.

The road trip did not really cost the Caps in the standings or the rankings. See where they land in this week's NHL Power Rankings.

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Capitals trim two more from roster, sending pair of goalies to Hershey

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Capitals trim two more from roster, sending pair of goalies to Hershey

Washington made a number of cuts Saturday morning to trim their roster down to 43 players

On Saturday night, they cut it down to 41 as the team announced goalies Parker Milner and Adam Morrison were assigned to AHL Hershey.

Milner and Morrison’s departure leaves Washington with four goalies on the current roster in Braden Holtby, Pheonix Copley, Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov.

The trade of Philipp Grubauer left the backup role in Washington a matter of some question heading into the season, but the team’s top four was never really in doubt. Saturday’s move to send Milner and Morrison to the AHL only confirms what we already knew.

With Hershey’s training camp set to start on Monday, the Bears will obviously need two goalies which explains why the move was made now. 

This will likely only be a temporary move, however, as Vanecek and Samsonov are likely to be Hershey’s goalies heading into the regular season. For now, keeping them on the Capitals roster allows them to continue practicing against better competition and will allow them the opportunity for more work in the preseason.

The Capitals still have another three preseason games left to play, the next of which will take place on Tuesday in St. Louis. 

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Capitals make another round of cuts sending several players to Hershey

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Capitals make another round of cuts sending several players to Hershey

With Hershey Bears training camp set to start on Monday, the Caps have sent a number of players to the AHL in the latest round of roster cuts. Mathias Bau, Hampus Gustafsson, Beck Malenstyn, Mason Mitchell, Brian Pinho, Kristofers Bindulis, Tobias Geisser have all been returned to Hershey. Grant Besse, who was on an AHL contract, has been returned as well. Mark Simpson has been released from his tryout agreement.

Of the players returned, there are no major surprises. The Caps only have room to add a fourth line center and possibly one or two extra forwards as well as a backup goalie and none of the players listed were in serious contention for taking one of those spots.

The moves cut Washington’s roster down to 43. The maximum roster allowed in-season is 23 players, provided the salaries fit under the $79.5 million salary cap ceiling.

The latest round of cuts still leave up for grabs the fourth line center job as Nic Dowd, Travis Boyd and Jayson Megna still remain on the current roster.

After playing four preseason games, the Caps have three more contests remaining before the start of the season. With plenty of prospects still on the roster, you can expect several of those players to be in the lineup for Tuesday’s game in St. Louis.

“For me, it's really important, really important for the overall direction of our organization to have our young players playing games,” head coach Todd Reirden said Friday. “We have to have them playing games. We can easily put out almost our entire roster to play [Friday’s] game, but that is not where we're at. We're about developing players within our organization, seeing where they're at, gauging the success that maybe they've already had in terms of their careers and seeing whether they're ready for this step or not.

“For the first four games you go through for sure a trial and error and you get to really gauge where your prospects are at. I've always felt strongly about that with young players and given them an opportunity to either stay or leave. It is in their hands. They're making the decisions for me.”

 

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