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Capitals begin training camp at Kettler

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Capitals begin training camp at Kettler

UPDATE 6:30 PM

Can Tom Wilson be more than just a fighter? We should find out this season because he won't be buried on the fourth line anymore.

Caps project Wilson to be third-line wing this season

UPDATE 5:45 PM

When Nicklas Backstrom returns to the ice, how will the Caps' forward depth play out? Ice time may be at a premium for Derek Roy, Brooks Laich and Jason Chimera when that happens.

Roy, Laich, Chimera set to battle for ice time with Backstrom out

UPDATE 5:00 PM

What's next for Alex Ovechkin? Winning the Stanley Cup of course.

Next on Ovechkin's bucket list: Stanley Cup ring

UPDATE 4:45 PM

The Caps will be without a key piece to their power play this season with the loss of Mike Green. John Carlson knows he needs to step up on the man advantage this season.

Carlson ready to make up for loss of Mike Green

UPDATE 2:15 PM

Brooks Orpik underwent surgery in late July to the surprise of pretty much everyone. Now he tells us why it took so long:

Orpik hopes to be back for preseason after late surgery

UPDATE 1:15 PM

Have you ever gotten a ship for your birthday? Ovechkin did. Or was it a sheep?

Ovechkin reveals a rather odd 30th birthday gift

UPDATE 12:00 PM

Nicklas Backstrom did not take part in practice, but did skate earlier in the day. Afterwards, he stopped to talk to the media about his recovery from hip surgery:

Backstrom's return remains uncertain

11:00 AM

Alex Ovechkin and the rest of the Capitals arrived at Kettler Capitals Iceplex bright and early on Friday for the first – and possibly most grueling – day of training camp.

Ovechkin, Justin Williams, Evgeny Kuzetsov and Jay Beagle, defenseman Nate Schmidt and goaltender Braden Holtby were among the Caps veterans in the first group (Group Blue) to hit the ice.

Center Nicklas Backstrom (offseason hip surgery) and defenseman Brooks Orpik (offseason wrist surgery) were not assigned to groups and are not expected to be available for the start of the Caps’ seven-game preseason schedule, which begins Monday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.

A 45-minute practice was followed by a fitness skate that had players hunched over in agony. Ovechkin started strong in the fitness skate, but fell back to the pack, while Beagle, a fitness enthusiast, led wire to wire.

Barry Trotz’s fitness test is one of the most difficult in the NHL, requiring players to do hockey’s version of basketball suicides – length of the ice, goal line to offensive blue line, goal line to center ice, goal line to defensive blue line – within a mandatory time frame. Players who cannot make the desired times must do the entire skate again.

The Capitals’ Group White squad, consisting of T.J. Oshie, John Carlson, Marcus Johansson, Derek Roy, Michael Latta and Andre Burakovsky, is scheduled to hit the ice at 11 a.m.

Group Red, with  Matt Niskanen, Brooks Laich, Jason Chimera, Karl Alzner, Tom Wilson and Philipp Grubauer, is slotted to begin its skating session at12:30 p.m.  

Stay here for continued coverage of today’s first day of training camp.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

The Eastern Conference Final is going the distance!

After losing three straight to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Capitals won Game 6 to force a Game 7 in Tampa Bay. Can the Caps beat the Lightning one more time and advance to the Stanley Cup Final?

JJ Regan, Tarik El-Bashir and special guest cameraman Mike D break it all down.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Due to schedule and time constraints, this podcast was recorded by phone and the audio quality is not up to our usual standards.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Caps push Lightning around in Game 6 with physical game plan

Caps push Lightning around in Game 6 with physical game plan

As the NHL continues to focus more on speed and skill, the Capitals took a very old-school approach to Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. From the moment the puck dropped until the clock hit zero, it was clear Washington came into Monday with a very physical game plan.

"It made a big difference," T.J. Oshie said. "I think in these games, everyone’s bringing energy and you kind of want to control that and direct it towards some positive play, some momentum building for your team, and tonight I think we handled that and did that pretty well."

"We just wanted to throw everything we had at them," Stephenson said. "It was a do or die game and we don't want our season to end."

It worked.

The scoresheet officially credited the Caps with 39 hits for the game. The Lightning had only 19. The physical play seemed to wear down Tampa Bay as the game went on.

After an even first period, Washington took a 1-0 lead in the second. Then, very fittingly, a physical fourth line extended that lead to 2-0 in the third to finish the Lightning off.

"All of a sudden now we turn a puck over, you’re back in your end, they’re feeling it, they’re being physical, crowd’s behind them and we’re spending way too much time in our D zone," Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said. "That’s what hurt us."

What made it so effective was the fact that the entire team bought into it. Alex Ovechkin was certainly the most noticeable player as he threw himself around like a wrecking ball against everyone wearing a white jersey. But it was not just his line. Tom Wilson and Brooks Orpik each led the team with six hits, Devante Smith-Pelly recorded five of his own while Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom both had four.

The Lightning faced a constant barrage from the Caps from every line and defensive pair. There was no respite.

The hits also gave the fans plenty to cheer for.

The Caps were playing an elimination game at home and Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy was standing on his head. Even with the score locked at 0-0 through the first period, the crowd was still very much into the game. There was no apprehension, there was no quiet tension. There was just a loud crowd cheering on its team.

"[The fans] were loud right from the start, which I think we fed off of and wanted to give them something back," Brooks Orpik said. "We didn't get a goal early. I think some of the physical play kind of helped carry that. They were great for us."

Now in the third round of the playoffs after six intense games between the Caps and Lightning, the hope is that Game 6's physical play will continue to take its toll on Tampa Bay heading into Game 7.

"We need to do that every game," Nicklas Backstrom said. "That's our forecheck. Hopefully, we can keep it going here in Game 7."

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