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With call-up, Caps 'reward' prospect Travis Boyd for hard work, improvement

With call-up, Caps 'reward' prospect Travis Boyd for hard work, improvement

Although it took a little longer than he had hoped, Capitals prospect Travis Boyd was thrilled to finally get his first NHL call-up on Tuesday.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Boyd said after practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “It’s a day I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

So what did Boyd, a sixth-round pick in 2011, think of the pace?

“It was intense, up tempo, really fast,” he said. “Drill-to-drill, no time off. I just kinda stayed in the back and made sure I didn’t screw anything up too bad.”

Boyd was recalled for a couple of reasons: No. 1, the Caps needed an extra forward to take to Philly just in case there’s an injury or illness at the morning skate and, No. 2, to reward him for playing well in Hershey this season.

The 23-year-old ranks second on the Bears in points with 43 (11 goals, 32 assists) in 53 games.

“We’ve had no injuries at [center] and it leaves them a little bit short [at that position],” Trotz said, explaining why Boyd was not recalled sooner. “He’s just a young man who struggled to get things rolling in the right way as a young player [and now is a] young, maturing player who’s finally getting it. He’s really having a good year.”

RELATED: Laich placed on waivers after saying he wants to play for contender

Trotz said Boyd has a high compete level and NHL-caliber hockey sense. The coach also said Boyd has worked hard to boost his consistency on the ice and preparation off it, improving in areas such as strength, conditioning and nutrition.

“It’s really come together for him and we wanted to reward him for it,” Trotz said. “He’s made the changes and got his game rolling to where we’re considering him as a player who could replace people in our organization. That’s good on him.”

Boyd acknowledged that it was tough to see some of his Hershey teammates called up ahead of him in recent months. In fact, Jakub Vrana, Chandler Stephenson, Liam O’Brien and Paul Carey have all gotten at least one game in Washington.

“It gets a little frustrating seeing other guys go up, especially when you think you’re playing well, I guess,” Boyd said. “But at the same time, they haven’t had any injuries up here. And they are the best team in the league; it’s not like they needed to change things up.”

In an attempt to make him feel comfortable, Boyd was assigned a locker stall near a couple of guys he already knows—Zach Sanford and Nate Schmidt. Boyd and Sanford, of course, were teammates in Hershey this season. Meanwhile, Boyd played with Schmidt at the University of Minnesota, where the two were also roommates on the road.

“He’s a chatterbox,” Boyd joked about rooming with Schmidt. “He’s also a snorer.”

“It’s nice knowing someone a little bit more than saying hi to them once or twice in training camp,” he continued. “That’s a couple of guys that I’m a little more comfortable with, which is nice.”

In all likelihood, Boyd will be just an observer on his first stint in the NHL. But the Caps are hopeful that he’ll continue to grow his game and eventually challenge for a spot in Washington.

“Everybody has their own path,” Trotz said. “Not everybody is on the same timeline as Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews. The rest of us mortals have different paths…It might just be a quick peek [this time]. But we’re sending him a message.”

And that message is keep grinding.

MORE CAPITALS: Caps recall Boyd prior to Wednesday's trip to Philly

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Metropolitan Division Outlook 2019-20: The New York Islanders - Can Barry Trotz work his magic again?

Metropolitan Division Outlook 2019-20: The New York Islanders - Can Barry Trotz work his magic again?

The Capitals enter the 2019-20 season looking for their fifth consecutive Metropolitan Division title.

But this could be the most challenging year yet. The bottom of the division has improved dramatically with offseason moves and the top of the division still has quality teams. It’s hard to figure who will crater and finish last. The winning team might not top 100 points.

For the next two weeks, NBC Sports Washington will take a look at each Metro team and where they stand with training camps opening in less than a month. Today: The New York Islanders.

The surprise team of 2018-19 is back to prove that was no fluke. It was the Islanders who finished second to the Capitals in the Metropolitan Division last season, not the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was Barry Trotz who won the Jack Adams Award. It was New York who shook off the loss of star center Jonathan Tavares and somehow made the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs before a getting swept by the Carolina Hurricanes. 

The Metro appears tougher on paper this time around and the Capitals and Penguins still are formidable opponents. The Islanders also swapped out their best goalie (Robin Lehner) for more of a talented question mark (Semyon Varlamov). And they lost in the Artemi Panarin free-agent sweepstakes to the rival New York Rangers. 

None of that bodes well, but the Islanders do have plenty to build on. They have a balanced top six with Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson centering solid lines. Anders Lee led the team with 28 goals and he was re-signed. Josh Bailey had 56 points, which was second only to Barzal (62). 

And don’t forget about maybe the best fourth line in the NHL (Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck), which combined for 34 goals last season. Cizikas alone had 20.  

Without an 80-point game-breaker - though Barzal has the talent to get there - New York has to be steady in its own end and get close to the fantastic goaltending it received last year from Lehner and Tomas Greiss. 

This time it will be Varlamov and Greiss. In front of them is a fine top pair in Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock. But the blueline overall features almost no household names. 

The Islanders, thanks in large part to Trotz and some of the same assistant coaches who helped the Capitals win the Stanley Cup in 2018, shocked the NHL last year. It shouldn’t be a surprise this time if they remain in playoff contention most of the season. 

But the Metro has gotten better and New York at best remained in place. The Islanders won’t sneak up on anyone this time around. Just making it back into the postseason tournament would be a win.  

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Capitals Goal of the Year Bracket: Backstrom's No-Look Pass to Oshie vs Vrana Speed

Capitals Goal of the Year Bracket: Backstrom's No-Look Pass to Oshie vs Vrana Speed

With less than a month before training camp opens in mid-September, we are taking one last look back at the 2018-19 season as we dive into the best goals of last year. We compiled our bracket based on the cumulative rankings of our Capitals team, from reporters to producers and everyone in between, and now is your turn to help us determine the best Capitals goal of 2018-19. Below is a Slack conversation between the members of our Capitals content team.

jmurph: Here we go, Day 2 of our Goals of the Year Bracket. Today we pit the backhand sauce of Nicklas Backstrom (and a nifty finish in tight quarters from TJ Oshie) with the blistering speed of Jakub Vrana on a breakaway against the Rangers. Both goals from November, what jumps out to you right off the bat?

JJ Regan: I will be playing the role of Rob Carlin today because I know the Oshie goal is amazing, but I love, LOVE that Vrana goal.

He starts from behind the defenseman, beats him to the puck and takes it alone on net and finishes the play.

bmcnally: I LOVE that Jakub Vrana goal. He might be the only guy on the roster with the speed to take advantage of an opponents' mistake like that. Maybe Carl Hagelin can still do that, too. But just a great all around play and a filthy finish. You can virtually see the afterburners as he pulls away

Rob Carlin: The Oshie goal is everything the Caps are all about. Great teamwork, Backstrom wizardry & and a snipe of a finish. That puck was passed around 5 times just that we see in the video. There’s no Cinderella today. It’s Osh

bmcnally: I'm #TeamRob today. As much as I love the pure speed of Vrana, the hockey sense on the Backstrom pass is from another planet.

jmurph: I have to agree with Rob, the Vrana goal is a great individual effort, but the team effort on the Oshie goal, add in a little sauce, that takes the cake for me

Rob Carlin: Don’t get me wrong. Vrana’s goal is sick. Great wheels. Nice finish. But, c’mon

JJ Regan: Backstrom would make one heck of a quarterback. When you watch the play he does not look behind him, he sees Oshie making a break and just anticipates where he is going to be perfectly.

Rob Carlin: I don’t say this often — but JJ is right!

timmcdonough: Initially ranked Oshie very high - on a rewatch back-to-back the Vrana goal jumps off the page more than I thought it would...

jmurph: And unlike yesterday's #1 goal, the Oshie goal is just as good as the play leading up to it

JJ Regan: It shows you how amazing these 16 goals are that Vrana's can rank No. 15. I love that goal, but it is tough to argue with a no-look behind pass.

timmcdonough: It's crazy how easy Backstrom makes that pass look

Rob Carlin: I think we’re done here. It’s the Oshie goal. Sorry Ya-koob

bmcnally: Let's give some love for the keep in by Oshie, too. That all around play is incredible. Then to go hard to the net assuming Backstrom would find him

jmurph: Somewhere Joe B is sadly muttering JAY-COB VRAH-NA to himself repeatedly

Rob Carlin: Bigger question — Ovi’s one-timer or Vrana goal? Which advances from the play-in game?

JJ Regan: Oh, the NIT of Caps' goals!

jmurph: Well we do have another Vrana goal coming up (teaser alert) so I'm going Ovi one-timer

bmcnally: I'll say Vrana wins the banner no one really wants at MSG. Since that's where he scored the goal anyway

jmurph: With that, we've come to a unanimous decision, Vrana's goal was great, but Backy and Osh are moving on. 

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