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What Tyler Lewington gives the Caps that no one else can

What Tyler Lewington gives the Caps that no one else can

It is not hard to project who the Capitals’ seven defensemen for next season will be...if money were not an issue.

John Carlson, Michal Kempny, Nick Jensen, Dmitry Orlov, Radko Gudas, Jonas Siegenthaler and Christian Djoos are all signed for next season. In addition to those seven, prospects Alex Alexeyev and Martin Fehervary will make the jump to the AHL and former first-round draft pick Lucas Johansen is also looking for his first taste of NHL hockey after two years with the Hershey Bears.

In terms of defenseman, there is no shortage of options for the Caps. But one defenseman who may not be getting talked about enough for his chances of making the NHL roster this year is Tyler Lewington.

Lewington, 24, was a seventh-round draft pick by the Caps in 2013. He has two NHL games to his name, both of which came last season. He endeared himself to Washington fans with his second game which came on Dec. 29, 2018. Not only did Lewington record his first NHL point in that game, he incredibly managed to pull off a Gordie Howe hat trick with a goal, an assist and a fight against the Ottawa Senators.

Obviously, it would be foolish to expect a player to replicate that kind of performance every night. So what type of player is Lewington, really?

Lewington is a hard-nosed, defensive defenseman who never hesitates to drop his gloves. He recorded seven fights in the AHL last season in addition to his fight with the Caps. Despite recording a goal and an assist in just his second NHL game, offense is not Lewington’s strong suit and he is a much more defensive player.

Lewington is a high-end AHL defenseman, but to me he projects to be a No. 7 in the NHL. He is not an everyday player and, in terms of talent, would not challenge any of the Caps’ seven defensemen for a roster spot.

So why is he someone worth remembering heading into training camp?

Because there is one big factor Lewington has going for him, more so than any player in the organization: He’s cheap.

You don’t need an expert to tell you Lewington is cheap and why that would be valuable to Washington, but it actually goes deeper than that.

With an NHL cap hit of only $675,000, that is lower than any player under contract with the Caps. In fact, there is only one player in the entire NHL whose contract carries a lower cap hit than Lewington's.

The Capitals are more than $1.3 million over the salary cap and they are going to have to find some way to get under the cap by Oct. 1 and to bank space throughout the season.

In terms of overall talent, the Caps have better options than Lewington. As the season approaches, there could even be unexpected players placed on waivers or maybe even another late buyout like we saw recently with Kevin Shattenkirk. Regardless of circumstances, however, there is no way to find an upgrade to Lewington in terms of price.

Not only is Lewington cheaper than anyone in the organization, there is no possible way for the team to bring in a cheaper defenseman. Lewington’s $675,000 is actually lower than the league-minimum salary for the 2019-20 season of $700,000. The team could sign a 95-year old man with no NHL experience who has never watched the sport of hockey before in his life and his cap hit would still be higher than Lewington’s.

Playing with a salary cap is not just about getting under the cap, it is about banking space throughout the season in order to gain more roster flexibility. Having Lewington on the roster would allow the team to bank more space than any other possible option.

If a defenseman gets injured and the Caps need someone to plug into the lineup for an extended amount of time, Lewington is not the answer. But do not dismiss his chances of making the roster out of camp or getting called up multiple times throughout the season. If the defense remains relatively healthy, having Lewington as the No. 7 makes a lot of cents. See what I did there?

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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.