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3 bold predictions: Caps look to tame the Wild

3 bold predictions: Caps look to tame the Wild

Two of the top teams in the NHL meet on Tuesday with both teams desperate for a win. The Caps are back from the west coast to host the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Wild (7 p.m., CSN). Here are three bold predictions for the game.

1. Lars Eller will score

Eller is one of many Caps mired by a scoring drought with no goals in his past 14 games. It's no surprise to see that drought stretches back to before Andre Burakovsky suffered the hand injury. The third line has not looked the same without him in the lineup. On Tuesday, however, Eller will finally break that drought if for no other reason than because it is Danish Heritage Night at Verizon Center.

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2. Washington will score three or more goals

Devan Dubnyk will likely win the the Vezina Trophy this season, but he had a rough night on Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks. He was pulled less than five minutes into the game after allowing two goals on just two shot. Usually, a goalie of Dubnyk's caliber is given more leash than that and allowed to try to bounce back. Head coach Bruce Boudreau said after the game that "It was on him. He didn’t look like he was following the puck well, for want of a better term."

I see Dubnyk responding in one of two ways: He will either come out as good as ever in a true Braden Holtby-like response and completely shutdown the Caps, or he could suffer another rought night. I'm going to go with the latter.

3. Washington will snap the losing streak

I hate predicting winners and losers. This is the first time I have included it as one of my 3 bold predictions all season and it will probably be the last, but I am confident enough in the Caps winning Tuesday I decided to go for it. Yes, they have lost four straight, but Minnesota is having some issues lately as well and their recent record is being propped up by weak competition. Since the start of February, the Wild are only 2-6-1 against teams that are currently in playoff position and 8-1-0 against everyone else. Don't get me wrong, Minnesota is a very good team, but the Caps struggles have been limited to the past week or so. The Wild's issues have been going on for nearly two months and no one has really noticed.

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Capitals vs. Hurricanes preseason Game 4: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

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USA Today

Capitals vs. Hurricanes preseason Game 4: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

The preseason continues after the Capitals' loss in Montreal last night. They are hoping to gain some momentum and dominate at tonight's game.

Even without the home advantage, they hope to take home a win as they face the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Hurricanes are one of the four teams the Capitals will face in preseason play, along with the Bruins, Canadiens and Blues.

The Capitals and Hurricanes will meet once again, next Friday at Capital One Arena. But first, it's time to get back on the ice for Game 4 of the seven-game preseason schedule.

 

CAPITALS-HURRICANES PRESEASON GAME 4: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina

When: Friday, September, 21, 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals-Hurricanes preseason game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Hurricanes preseason on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

CAPITALS-HURRICANES PRESEASON TV SCHEDULE:

7:00 PM: Washington Capitals: My Day with the Cup (R)
7:30 PM: NHL Preseason: Capitals @ Carolina Hurricanes 
10:00 PM: Caps Postgame Live (LIVE)

 

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4 players who impressed in Capitals preseason loss in Québec City

4 players who impressed in Capitals preseason loss in Québec City

Thursday’s game in Quebec City got off to a rough start for the Capitals. Washington gave up 13 shots on goal before they finally got their first late in the first period. Even worse, they yielded the first four goals in what would end up being a 5-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

But it wasn’t all bad.

After going down 4-0 at the start of the second, the Caps finally woke up with two goals of their own and put together a much better effort from that point on.

Here are the players who really impressed from Thursday’s loss.

Connor Hobbs

If there’s one thing Hobbs is known for, it is his monster slap shot. Because of that, his wrist shot is often overlooked, but he is very adept at both and, something that impressed me when he was playing junior hockey for the Regina Pats, he always seems to know when to use which shot.

On the power play, Brett Connolly fed Hobbs at the top of the face-off circle and he had nothing but room in front of him. Rather than rush a slap shot, Hobbs showed some patience, lined up his shot, and fired the wrister to beat goalie Charlie Lindgren.

No one was particularly sterling defensively in a game in which Washington gave up five goals, but in the third period, Hobbs was able to poke check the puck away from a streaking Matthew Peca to prevent a scoring opportunity.

Jayson Megna

Megna is the only Caps player to appear in all three of the team’s preseason games and he may be playing his way at least into the conversation for sticking around in Washington. Where he stands out the most is on the penalty kill. Todd Reirden wants the team to be more aggressive with a man down, and Megna really seems to have embraced that philosophy. He had a great shorthanded opportunity in the second period and had another scoring chance later in the frame in which he hit the post.

The reality is that Megna remains a longshot to make the roster, there are just too many bodies competing for too few spots, but Megna has shown at the very least that it is too early to count him out.

Axel Jonsson-Fjallby

On Tuesday, Jonsson-Fjallby played alongside Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie which gave many hope for a big offensive performance. He was largely unnoticeable in that game, however, managing only one shot on goal and did not seem all that comfortable until the third period. He was much more comfortable on Thursday and had a much more noticeable impact on the game.

Jonsson-Fjallby’s best asset is his speed and that was on display in Quebec City, especially on the penalty kill.

In the third period, Jonsson-Fjallby pressured Lindgren into a quick pass as the netminder retrieved the puck behind the goal line. He then chased down the puck carrier, stole the puck and fired a quick backhander for the shorthanded chance. Later in the third period, Jonsson-Fjally pounced on a lazy pass to launch himself on a shorthanded breakaway.

Jonsson-Fjallby is most likely not going to be a top-six NHL player, but he still has NHL speed and Thursday’s game showed how he can make his mark in the NHL as a very effective and dangerous penalty killer.

Alex Ovechkin

The Great 8 has literally nothing to prove in the preseason. Nothing. But for the last few years, every season has started with a discussion about whether or not this season will mark the beginning of Ovechkin’s decline.

In his preseason debut, Ovechkin got his first shot on goal in the second period and it ended up in the back of the net. Ovechkin’s one-timer looked as dangerous as ever as he cranked one from the office for the power play tally.

Ovechkin is going to face a lot of goalies who are a lot tougher to beat than Lindgren this season, but that one-timer looks like it is already in midseason form.

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