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Playing with Siegenthaler, Nick Jensen may finally have found his fit in Washington

Playing with Siegenthaler, Nick Jensen may finally have found his fit in Washington

ARLINGTON, Va. -- It would be fair to say that Nick Jensen’s time with the Capitals did not start the way either he or the team had hoped. Brought in at the 2019 trade deadline, Jensen was playing top-pair minutes with the Detroit Red Wings. In Washington, however, it was a struggle to find the best fit for him in the lineup. Originally given a top-four role coming out of training camp this season, Jensen was eventually supplanted on the second pair by Radko Gudas. Now he sits on the third pair with Jonas Siegenthaler.

But as significant as Jensen’s falling down the lineup has been, just as significant has been the positive strides his game has taken in recent weeks.

“I've liked how he's played with [Jonas] Siegenthaler,” head coach Todd Reirden said. “So that's been a good look. I think it's allowed both of them to settle into their game.”

Stepping into a new team on the fly after getting traded to the Caps was a struggle for Jensen and it was made worse by the constant shuffling of the blue line.

An injury to Michal Kempny forced Reirden to keep switching his defensive pairs in search of the right combination through the rest of the regular season and into the playoffs. The effect that had on Jensen’s adjustment to his new team was not lost on him.

“I think the biggest change was just playing with different guys,” Jensen told NBC Sports Washington. “The D-partner I played with pretty steady in Detroit, we worked pretty well together...I feel like I was always on the same page with my D-partner which led to a lot of success for me there. It was kind of the difference coming over is just getting used to playing with different guys.”

Jensen played with Siegenthaler, Dmitry Orlov, Brooks Orpik and on the first pair with John Carlson playing on his off-side on the left, and that was just last season in only 20 regular-season games with Washington and seven more in the playoffs.

This season, Jensen had the benefit of a training camp and time to adjust to the team which he says has helped him settle in.

“I feel a lot more comfortable,” he said. “In 15 games last year I had more points than I do now, but I feel more comfortable in a sense of being out on the ice and how our team plays and moving the puck and trying to get it out of the D-zone which is one of my primary concerns when I'm out on the ice is getting the puck out of the D-zone and getting it into the forwards' hands. I feel a lot more comfortable this year and I'm getting used to how our team plays and how our forwards play and how we all gel together.”

But the biggest factor of all in how he has played may be the chemistry he has finally found with a defense partner.

Jensen started the season with Orlov on a pair that just did not seem to fit. Now with Siegenthaler, however, Jensen finally seems to be finding his way.

“I think it took a couple, or one or two games I think,” Siegenthaler said, “But I think now I kind of know where he stands, how he skates, how he wants the puck and everything. Smart player.”

Finding chemistry on a defensive pair is a good first step for Jensen finally fitting in with his new surroundings. Having said that, Reirden cautioned that for him to be truly successful in Washington, Jensen will need to eventually be able to play a variety of roles and with different partners, not just Siegenthaler.

“We need to continue to figure out ways to magnify [Jenssen’s strengths] as does he and be able to understand the role that he has on our team,” Reirden said. “Some nights, that's going to be playing with Orlov, some nights that's going to be playing with Siegenthaler. It's going to change. There's injuries and there's things that go on, different matchups that set up differently.”

But for a player who, for the first 40 games with the Caps, just did not seem to fit, finding chemistry with Siegenthaler is an important first step.

“I feel like all our D are very obviously super capable of playing defense,” Jensen said, “And I'm feeling pretty comfortable playing with the D-partner I'm playing with right now.”

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Capitals vs. Blue Jackets: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, how to watch

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals vs. Blue Jackets: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, how to watch

With three straight wins in their California trip, the Capitals are coming back to some much-needed home cooking. Washington will look to win their seventh game in a row.

The Blue Jackets are on a three-game losing skid and will look to get themselves out of the Metro Division basement with a much-needed win.

Can the Caps keep their winning streak going? Tune in to find out.

CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, DC

When: Monday, December 9, 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals-Blue Jackets game will be broadcast on NBC Sports. (NBC Sports channel finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Blues preseason on NBC Sports live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

CAPITALS-BLUES TV SCHEDULE:

6:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live

6:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live

7:00 PM: Capitals vs. Blue Jackets (LIVE)

9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live

10:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live

10:30 PM: Caps Overtime Live

CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS INJURY REPORT:

Capitals: C Nicklas Backstrom, upper-body injury, day-to-day

Blue Jackets: RW Brandon Dubinsky, wrist, long-term injured reserve

D Markus Nutivaara, upper-body injury, injured reserve

D Zach Werenski, upper-body injury, injured reserve

CAPITALS AT BLUE JACKETS PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Jonas Siegenthaler, D, Capitals (1-4-5)

While all the attention paid to the Caps defense is on John Carlson, Siegenthaler is quietly putting together a stout campaign. As part of the penalty-killing unit and on the third pairing with Radko Gudas, Siegenthaler could have a busy night ahead of him.

Seth Jones, D, Blue Jackets (4-12-16)

The son of former-NBA player Popeye Jones, Seth is making noise around the NHL for his steady play on the defensive end with his playmaking abilities on offense. He'll be quarterbacking the Columbus powerplay.

Pierre-Luc Dubois, F, Blue Jackets (10-8-18)

Chosen third overall in the 2016 entry draft, Dubois currently leads Columbus in points this season. He's been shut down for the last five games, recording only one assist, so he'll be looking to get his scoring touch back.

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A Vrana steal, a Kuznetsov surprise and more shenanigans between the Caps and Ducks

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USA TODAY Sports

A Vrana steal, a Kuznetsov surprise and more shenanigans between the Caps and Ducks

For the first time in franchise history, the Capitals have swept all three California teams on the road. The final win came on Friday in a 3-2 narrow defeat of the Anaheim Ducks. The game was full of shenanigans, some of which were cheeky and fun, but others were cruel and tragic.

Check out the game recap here.

Observations from the win

Just let them fight

We all remember what happened the last time these two teams played between Garnet Hathaway and Erik Gudbranson. It was no surprise to see those two lock horns in the second period, but the moment Gudbranson dropped his gloves, the refs were pulling the two apart preventing the fight.

The game devolved from there. In total, there was 66 PIM distributed in this game and I can't help but think most of it could have been avoided had the refs just let Hathaway and Gudbranson fight it out initially.

Why were they so quick to step in? I'm guessing that was the line in the sand drawn by the refs in an attempt by to keep control of the game and both players were told this is what would happen if they tried to fight. Rather than calm the game down, however, that seemed to make things worse.

Hathway and Gudbrandson ended up fighting in the third period anyway so what was the point of stopping them?

That sure sounds like they just needed to get that initial fight out of the way. That would have been better for both teams. Gudbranson's took an extra two minutes on the original fight attempt and the Caps scored on the resulting power play. Washington, meanwhile, sure seemed to get distracted by all the fisticuffs and scrums as the game went along, quickly losing control of a game it led 2-0.

Offside reviews stink and the NHL should get rid of them

Anaheim had a goal disallowed after a coach's challenge showed that Cam Fowler lifted up his back toe just before the puck crossed over the blue line. Once again, the game was slowed down so the refs could review a play and break down the video pixel by pixel to see if a player was just a hair offside. It saved the Caps a goal, but it was another example of the ridiculous standard linesmen now must stick to when judging if a play was offside or not.

The Ducks did not gain an advantage by the fact that Fowler's toe barely came off the ice right before the puck crossed. That's not the spirit in which the rule was intended.

Just please get rid of the offside review.

Context

The Caps swept a four-game road trip for just the second time in franchise history and they did it without Nicklas Backstrom and with Alex Ovechkin scoring in only one of those four games. They could actually be even better than what we saw  Friday.

Turning point

Anaheim tied the game at 2 just 45 seconds into the third period. They had complete control of the game. They were getting prolonged offensive opportunities in the Caps' zone and Washington's offensive structure was non-existent. They were skating the puck in, shooting and that was about the extent of the Caps' offense at that point.

Everything changed with one bad turnover.

Play of the game

Ovechkin is the team's most dangerous weapon on the power play. Getting the puck to him is priority one. Having said that, the Caps have a lot of weapons on the power play and they don't always utilize them. 

Washington's power play system is run on the half-wall. From there the puck is distributed, but rarely do they ever shoot from that position. They should because it would force defenses to account for it, but they don't and so you can understand why this shot from Evgeny Kuznetsov from the half-wall seemed to catch goalie Ryan Miller by complete surprise.

Stat of the game

The win completes a four-game sweep of the road trip. Does it seem like the Caps are really good on the road this season? That's because they are.

Quote of the game


Fan predictions

This is impressive. You nailed it and you got pretty specific too. There were only three misconducts, but still I'm very impressed.

A bit off on the score, but you got to see a Caps win.

Ha.

There was plenty of this. A total of 66 PIM were issued in this game.

Well, it was nuts but it didn't get that nuts.

Just about everything that could happen to Radko Gudas did in this game...but he still didn't score.

I did, but barely. I am going to guess we lost a few people along the way.