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Capitals line combinations slowly taking shape


Capitals line combinations slowly taking shape

Quick hits from Sunday’s Day 3 of Capitals training camp at Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

Line combinations: Barry Trotz has been trying to find some favorable combinations with his forward pairs and his most consistent have been Evgeny Kuznetsov with Alex Ovechkin; Andre Burakovsky with Marcus Johansson; and Derek Roy with T.J. Oshie. Right wing Justin Wiliams has been skating with a variety of linemates and on Sunday he was with Burakovsky and Johansson.

D pairings: Karl Alzner and Matt Niskanen have spent the start of camp together, as has Dmitry Orlov and Nate Schmidt. With Brooks Orpik (wrist surgery) expected to miss the first five preseason games, it will be interesting to see if Taylor Chorney, who can play both sides, will be paired with John Carlson on Monday night. Trotz said he’s also been impressed by Ryan Stanton, who played 54 games with the Vancouver Canucks last season and will be given a look as the Caps’ seventh defenseman.

Goalie plan: Braden Holtby is slated to start Monday night’s preseason opener against the Carolina Hurricanes, with Dan Ellis scheduled to replace him midway through the game. That would suggest Philipp Grubauer and Justin Peters will split Tuesday night’s preseason game in Boston.

Russian 3-on-3: The Caps have been spending an inordinate amount of time on 3-on-3 play and on Sunday the Russian trio of Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and Orlov looked dynamic together, scoring less than a minute into the session. “Nobody understands what we say,” Orlov said with a laugh. “We talk (Russian) and nobody know. It’s good. It’s our secret.” Trotz said he’ll probably “tone it down” with work on 3-on-3s until later in training camp.

Roster reduction: Trotz said the Capitals likely will make their first training camp cuts on Friday or Saturday after the Caps have played their third preseason game (against the Canadiens in Montreal on Thursday night).


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Blue Jackets troll Capitals on Twitter after retaking lead in Metro Division


Blue Jackets troll Capitals on Twitter after retaking lead in Metro Division

The Columbus Blue Jackets threw some serious shade at the Caps Tuesday night after their 7-2 blowout loss to the Predators.

The Jackets took the Metro lead after the Caps lost their third straight game, and they let them have it on Twitter.

That's a bold jab coming from the team that lost to the Caps in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs...

The GIF comes from Saturday night's overtime loss to the Jackets where Columbus celebrated Artemi Panarin's game-winner with Evgeny Kuznetsov's signature bird celly.

When asked about the copycat celebration last Saturday, Kuzy said, "That's fine. It's nice to get some people that think about me, same as in April last year.”

The Capitals meet the Blue Jackets again Feb. 12 where the only bird celly should come from Kuzy.



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Caps suffer third straight loss as they get rocked in Music City

Caps suffer third straight loss as they get rocked in Music City

The final score of a game can often be deceiving, but that was certainly not the case on Tuesday. The Capitals lost 7-2 to the Nashville Predators in a game every bit as one-sided as the score indicates. Viktor Arvidsson scored a hat trick and Nick Bonino added another two goals in a game that was well in hand before the end of the second period.

Here are three reasons the Caps lost.

Viktor Arvidsson

Arvidsson came into this game with 14 goals this season and 21 points in 23 games. He is one of the best players in the league that no one talks about and that was certainly on display in this game. He wasn’t a one trick pony either. His first goal came on the breakaway, his second was a deflection and his third was a shorthanded breakaway.

Arvidsson’s third goal

As one-sided as the game was, there was a moment in the second period when it looked like Washington was going to claw its way back into it. Down 3-0 in the second period, Nicklas Backstrom scored on the power play to make it 3-1. Less than five minutes later, T.J. Oshie drew a tripping call from Calle Jarnkrok. Suddenly it looked as if the Caps had a chance.

But once again, Washington had no answer for Arvidsson.

Backstrom tried to carry the puck into the offensive zone, but he was met and challenged by Arvidsson. Backstrom lost the puck and Arvidsson took off while Ryan Johansen grabbed the puck in the neutral zone. Johansen fed Arvidsson for the breakaway and he delivered the knockout punch.

Washington was eyeing a 3-2 game, but instead they suddenly found themselves down 4-1 and the rout was on.

Poor decisions

Give all the credit to Nashville for dominating this game, they dominated and deserved to win. Having said that, the Caps were clearly their own worst enemy in Nashville.

Tom Wilson carried the puck into the offensive zone in the first period. With no open passing lane, the only real option he had was to dump and chase or drive himself and pass back to the blue line. Instead, he forced a pass to Ovechkin who had to stop and reach back to grab the puck. He was also being covered by two players so it was no surprise when he turned the puck over. The resulting breakout led to a breakaway and Arvidsson’s first goal.

In the second period, Andre Burakovsky had the puck and looked like he had a lane to shoot or dive to the net. Instead, he pulled up and tried to cross the puck. The pass was easily picked off and Rocco Grimaldi was off in the other direction. He would finish off the play with a highlight-reel spin-o-rama goal, but it all started with a poor decision.

This game was full of those moments. Bad decision by the Caps and the puck was off in the other direction. The uglier the game got, the more Washington’s system and hockey sense went out the window. Two of Nashville’s goals came on the breakaway and one came on a two-on-one. Those type of odd-man breaks happen because of breakdowns.