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Vrana laments losing good friend Bowey to trade: 'You figured out you won't see him again'

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Vrana laments losing good friend Bowey to trade: 'You figured out you won't see him again'

If you watched the Capitals come onto the ice for pregame warmups or between intermissions either this season or last, you could see two players coming out of the tunnel holding hands. The narrow tunnel does not allow for players to stand side-by-side, but that did not deter Jakub Vrana and Madison Bowey. Friends from their days in Hershey, it became a pregame tradition for them to hold hands as they came out onto the ice for games.

Now that pregame tradition is one-man short.

Bowey was traded to the Detroit Red Wings on Friday as part of a package that landed Washington defenseman Nick Jensen. The move presents a new start for Bowey who had precipitously slid down the Capitals’ depth chart. But it also meant Vrana was losing one of his closest friends on the team.

“When you lose a friend like this, it's not a nice feeling because you spend a couple of years with him, right?” Vrana told NBC Sports Washington. “Really good friends. Been hanging out a lot and have a good practice together. Once the practice end, you just figured out you won't see him again.”

The trade deadline is a fun time for hockey fans who dream of all the moves their team can make. What players can they add? Who will play where in the lineup? Can they fit this player under the salary cap? Is there a defenseman available?

From the outside, these moves appear to be a little more than moving around chess pieces on a board. On the inside, however, these are players with families and friends who suddenly have to drop everything and start a new life in a new city.

“No one really thinks they're going to get traded unless they're told that they're going to get traded,” Brett Connolly said, “So it always comes as a shock to guys when they do get traded. I've been traded once and it really changes your life. Everything just changes in split second. Going through it, it's not an easy process. Obviously with our group you want to stay here and be a part of it because we did win last year and we're obviously going to try and make another run at it this year.”

The quest to repeat is now something that Bowey will not get to be a part of. He has gone from the defending champions to a Detroit team that sits near the bottom of the league standings. But despite the turmoil and shock that comes with getting traded, this could actually prove beneficial for Bowey’s career.

Bowey was clearly falling down the depth chart in Washington, getting passed by other young players like Christian Djoos and Jonas Siegenthaler. In Detroit, he will get an everyday role for the rest of this season and presumably next season as well.

“Hopefully he will do good,” Vrana said. “I want all the best for him. He's a great guy, he's a great teammate and hopefully he will settle in pretty good in Detroit.”

Bowey’s new opportunity comes at a cost, however, and it is one that both he and Vrana will have to pay. It means uprooting his life in Washington to make the move to Detroit and it means for Vrana losing a friend in the locker room thanks to a situation he had no control over.

Still relatively new to the NHL, that feeling of helplessness that came at this year’s deadline certainly stuck out to Vrana.

“It's kind of new to me,” he said. “I haven't gone through lots of [trade deadlines] in my career so that was like a big first one I think. Obviously last year we brought in couple of guys. It's just part of the hockey, this trade deadlines. It's just how it is. We're just here to play. We can do our best on the ice, but those kind of things other people take care of. It stinks you cannot control. You just come here and play.”

Vrana will miss his friend’s presence in the locker room. Now when he takes the ice, he will do so alone.

When asked if he would get someone else to replace Bowey for his pregame ritual, Vrana said, “I don't think so. I think it's over.”


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Lars Eller was 'not surprised to see that kind of acting' from Brad Marchand in Tom Wilson scrum

Lars Eller was 'not surprised to see that kind of acting' from Brad Marchand in Tom Wilson scrum

During the first period of Saturday's game against the Boston Bruins, Michal Kempny gave Brad Marchand a little shove following a whistle with 20-seconds left in the frame. Marchand responded with an even greater shove to Kempny's face.

Caps' top line enforcer Tom Wilson came onto the scene immediately, taking exception to Marchand's tiff with Kempny. When Marchand saw Wilson coming after him, he immediately flopped to the ice before Wilson could lay more than an elbow on him. Lucky for Wilson, the referees didn't buy it and neither did anyone on the Caps.

"I'm not surprised to see that kind of acting from him," Lars Eller said of Marchand on The Sports Junkies Monday.

"I think it's good that we back each other up and Tom came over and Marchand...yeah, I don't know what he was doing," Eller said. "He just kind of turtled on the ice there and goes down and Tom barely even touched him."

The Caps came out of Boston with two points, beating the Bruins 3-2 in an overtime shootout victory. They host the Anaheim Ducks Monday night at 7:00 p.m.


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4 things to know for Caps-Ducks: Boyd gets a promotion

4 things to know for Caps-Ducks: Boyd gets a promotion

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Capitals (15-3-4) saw their point streak snapped on Friday, but rebounded on Saturday with a come-from-behind win in Boston. They will look to stay hot on Monday as they host the Anaheim Ducks (10-9-2). You can catch all the action on NBC Sports Washington with Caps FaceOff Live kicking things off at 6 p.m. before Caps Pregame Live begins at 6:30 p.m. to bring you up to the 7 p.m. puck drop. Stick with NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Postgame Live, D.C. Sports Live and Caps Overtime Live.

Here are four things to know for Monda’s game.

Boyd gets a bump

Travis Boyd's strong play on Saturday did not go unnoticed by the coaches as he was moved up to the third line at Monday's morning skate, switching spots with Garnet Hathaway.

Here are the lines from the skate:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Richard Panik - Lars Eller - Travis Boyd
Brendan Leipsic - Chandler Stephenson - Garnet Hathaway

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

Carl Hagelin was on the ice in a non-contact jersey and will miss his sixth-straight game. Nic Dowd was not on the ice. Todd Reirden said both remain day-to-day, but Hagelin was closer to returning than Dowd. When asked, Reirden acknowledged that Dowd's injury was worse than previously believed.

Holtby vs. Gibson

Braden Holtby will get the start for the Caps. Since his "reset" early in the season, he has been lights out with an 8-0-1 record in his last nine starts with a .924 save percentage. 

Backing up Holtby will be Vitek Vanecek. He was recalled on Saturday to take the place of Ilya Samsonov. Vanecek has a lower cap hit and the team needed that space to recall Boyd.

The expected starter for the Ducks will be John Gibson, a netminder who has established himself as one of the league's best in recent years. This season he is 7-9-0 with a .915 save percentage and 2.83 GAA.

Anaheim’s putrid power play

The Caps have taken 83 minors this season already, tied for the second-most in the league. Limiting power play opportunities for the opposition should always be a priority, but even if Washington gets into penalty trouble this is a game where they may be able to get away with it.

Anaheim's power play is clicking at only 9.1-percent, the second-worst power play in the league. Only the Ottawa Senators struggle more to score on the man advantage.

The Caps’ epic collapse

The last time these two teams met in Washington was Dec. 2, 2018. Midway through the second, the Caps held a 5-1 lead and looked like they would be able to coast to the easy blowout victory. The Ducks had other ideas.

Andrew Cogliano sparked the comeback with a goal just 61 seconds after Dowd made it 5-1. Rickard Rakell scored less than a minute after Cogliano and suddenly a three-goal lead did not seem all that insurmountable. Anaheim would go on to score three more goals in the third period, five unanswered in total, as the Ducks stunned the Caps 6-5. Anaheim did all of this in regulation as well so the Caps did not even get a single point to show for their second period 5-1 lead.