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3 bold predictions: Matching the Bruins' sense of urgency

3 bold predictions: Matching the Bruins' sense of urgency

The Caps will get a chance to get the bad taste of Brooklyn out of their mouth on Wednesday as they host the Boston Bruins (8 p.m., NBCSN). Here are three bold predictions for the game.

1. Brad Marchand will get more than 2 PIMs

Doesn't sound bold for a player who has made a lot of headlines this week for the wrong reasons, but incredibly Marchand has not been called for a single penalty in his last six games and has taken more than 2 PIMs only six times in 53 games this season. Despite avoiding suspension for his past two (blatant) slew foots, you have to think the NHL's patience will run out at some point. The referees will be watching Marchand very closely on Wednesday and will not let him get away with anything.

RELATED: Kuznetsov is honored for outstanding start in 2017

2. Boston will score first

Washington has a two-point lead over Columbus for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division. Boston has only a three-point lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs who are the first team out of the playoffs and the Leafs have five games in hand. Now that the All-Star break has come and gone, the playoff race has begun in earnest. The Bruins are playing with a much higher sense of urgency than the Caps and that will be evident to start. The Caps will take a little while to up their game to the same level of Boston.

3. A defenseman will score for Washington

The Islanders did a great job on Tuesday of forcing the Caps to the perimeter and clearing them out of the middle. On Wednesday, Washington will get back to basics with lots of net-front presence which will mean kicking the puck back to the blue line for shots from the defense. Even if they don't score, at the very least a defenseman will get an assist on a deflection goal.

2017 Results: 

1. Jason Chimera will have a multipoint night - Wrong
2. Alex Ovechkin will outduel John Tavares - Push
3. Washington will score on the power play - Wrong

Correct: 14.5
Wrong: 28.5
Push: 1

MORE CAPITALS: Caps' penalty kill has gone cold

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Why playing in an empty arena won't be a problem for Braden Holtby

Why playing in an empty arena won't be a problem for Braden Holtby

There are a lot of unknowns heading into the 2020 postseason, but one of the biggest unknowns has been how the goalies will play. A pause of several months in which no one could get on the ice was hardest on the goalies who could essentially do nothing to simulate their play on the ice or keep their bodies ready for game action when they returned. According to Braden Holtby, however, it’s so far, so good.

Holtby turned aside 12 out of 13 shots in Wednesday’s exhibition game against the Carolina Hurricanes. He looked more poised and confident than when the season was paused.

For him, the long layoff wasn’t an issue. He had plenty of time to prepare during optional workouts.

“I think it's been long enough that [goalies have] been able to be on the ice,” Holtby said. “I mean, it's coming up on two months. That's plenty of time. Obviously it was a little different getting back into just the game routine from practice. That's always one of the challenges when you have a long layoff. But I felt pretty comfortable out there.”

The only adjustment for goalies, however, is not just about getting onto the ice, it’s also about adjusting to a new setting.

RELATED: WHAT TO KNOW FOR CAPS VS. LIGHTNING

For the first time in the NHL, these players will be playing in front of no fans. That will affect some players more than others and...well...let’s just say the lack of fans will not be an issue for Holtby.

“Actually, I didn't feel different at all,” Holtby said referring to playing in front of an empty arena. “Felt pretty normal. A few of the guys were saying on the bench it's kind of a hard time which obviously as a goalie you don't have to deal with. I was quite surprised, it seemed like a normal game.”

In addition to the crowd noise -- added to the broadcast but not heard by the players in the arenas -- the seats in the arena were covered with banners to give a more decorative background as opposed to empty seats.

While this was done to make the arena more aesthetically pleasing to the fans watching at home, Holtby described an unintended benefit to the covered seats.

“The sightlines are nice,” Holtby said. “At least they backdropped it, they put up this grey. That helps a lot. A lot of the buildings you go into with the black seats so if it's the start of the period or something and no one's sitting down yet, you lose a lot of pucks in those seats. You don't have to deal with that here which is nice.”

Holtby struggled in the regular season, but the Caps’ championship hopes lie very much on his shoulders considering Ilya Samsonov is out with an injury suffered prior to training camp. Any advantage he can get for the playoffs will be welcome for the team. It's a good sign that he seems very cool and relaxed about the NHL's new setting.

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WATCH: Alex Ovechkin's son Sergei has mastered his backhand shot

WATCH: Alex Ovechkin's son Sergei has mastered his backhand shot

Like father, like son.

Capitals star Alex Ovechkin is currently separated from his family while Washington finishes its season in the Toronto bubble. However, Ovi's absence hasn't stopped his son, Sergei, from working on his own game.

On Sunday, Ovechkin's wife Nastya shared a video to her Instagram page of Sergei ripping several backhand shots into a mini net, and it was quite impressive.

The Capitals reposted the video to their own social media account, tweeting out "Is this kid serious????"

What's even more incredible about the video is that Sergei is already demonstrating great puck skills before at such a young age, as Ovi Jr. doesn't turn two until later this month. I mean, just look at that hand-eye control!

If Sergei continues on this pace, his dad better watch out!

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