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Caps hoping changes made to prospect camp pays off in long run

Caps hoping changes made to prospect camp pays off in long run

There was a time not too long ago that the Capitals invited all of their recent draft picks and a slew of free agents to Kettler Iceplex for a grueling week of endurance training and fast-paced, hard-hitting scrimmages.

Those days are over, at least to some degree.

“Before, it was ‘Let’s see what you can take. Who can take it the most? Who’s the biggest man out there?” Capitals director of player development Steve Richmond said Wednesday on the second day of the Caps’ development camp.

The camp runs from Tuesday through Saturday at the team's home facility in Arlington, Va.

“Those endurance skates, that wasn’t for testing. That was for the entertainment of the coaches, I think. It’s not fair. We want these kids to be able to train all summer. We don’t want to beat them up in (development) camp.”

And so this week will be different for the 30 players in camp. On Wednesday, the forwards and defensemen took part in on-ice drills that tested their agility, explosiveness and strength – not who could throw the biggest body check.

On Thursday, following on-ice sessions in the morning, the Caps prospects will trek over to Georgetown, load onto rowing sculls and spend the afternoon stroking down the Potomac. Afterward, they’ll join the Capitals’ coaching and scouting staffs for a team dinner in Georgetown.

On Friday afternoon, following a morning of skating drills, the Capitals will give their prospects a walking tour of the Verizon Center, then drop them off at the National Mall and let them soak in the splendor of the nation’s capital for two or three hours before picking them up at a designated location.

“A lot of these guys are going to be playing together the next couple years,” Richmond. “It’s something besides hockey. Washington is such a great city and it’s another way for them to see the city. Instead of scrimmaging all the time, we have a smaller camp and we want to fill it with other things.

“We want them to come and see where they need to be and what’s waiting for them when they get here.”

On Saturday, the Capitals will conduct their first and only scrimmage of the five-day development camp, with puck drop scheduled for 10 a.m.

For Zach Sanford, the change in the Caps’ philosophy is a welcome one.

“It’s a little more laid back than before,” said Capitals’ 21-year-old left wing, who is attending his fourth summer camp before returning to Boston College for his junior season. “The first year I think we had four scrimmages.

“Last year we had a 3-on-3 tournament, which was really fun. This year there’s just one scrimmage and we’ve got some stuff to do in D.C. and some rowing. I think it’s a lot more fun with these guys and a lot more about building relationships instead of just playing hockey.”

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3 players who stood out in playoff rematch against the Hurricanes: Samsonov gets the full game and the win

3 players who stood out in playoff rematch against the Hurricanes: Samsonov gets the full game and the win

WASHINGTON -- In a reversal of last season’s playoff, the Capitals dominant forecheck suffocated the Carolina Hurricanes for much of the game on Friday in a 3-2 preseason win. The game was the final preseason game in Washington as the Caps’ three remaining contests all will come on the road.

Here are three players who impressed in the home preseason finale.

Ilya Samsonov

Samsonov faced only 15 shots from a clearly outmatched Hurricanes roster, but he looked impressive in the few times he was tested. The save of the night came in the second period when he denied Julien Gauthier on a breakaway.

Gauthier attempted the old Peter Forsberg move and skated to his right while trying to craftily tuck the puck in to the left. Samsonov slid with Gauthier, but stuck out his stick to deny the shot and make the tremendous save.

Samsonov continued to demonstrate his comfort playing the puck with his stick as he also denied a scoring opportunity with a well-timed poke check and was always quick to play the puck when it came behind the goal line.

One area in which he was not comfortable was the glove. There were multiple occasions in which he was able to get a glove on the puck, but was not able to catch it creating dangerous opportunities for Carolina’s offense.

The Hurricanes managed only seven shots on goal through the first two periods, but managed some more pressure in the third. The shutout bid was ended in the third when Brock McGinn followed up his own rebound to score Carolina’s first goal of the game. The second goal came on a fluky bounce off the backboards that Janne Kuokkanen was able to whack behind Samsonov before he could get a glove to it.

While Todd Reirden likely hoped Samsonov would be more tested than he was, he was up to the task with 13 saves.

Brian Pinho

The Caps recorded three goals on the night and Pinho had two of them.  In the first period, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby created a turnover on the forecheck. Feeling the pressure, Fredrik Claesson tried a hopeful clear that was cut off at the blue line by Pinho who skated in and tucked the puck through the 5-hole of goalie Anton Forsberg. He scored again in the third period on the power play when his shot deflected off of Jake Bean and took a favorable bounce up before dropping into the net.

Pinho led the Capitals with five points in three games at the 2019 Prospect Showcase, but at 24 years old, he would be expected to play well. He faced slightly better competition on Saturday and still was able to produce with two goals on the night.

Richard Panik

One of the newest Caps, Panik has looked extremely comfortable in both of his preseason games thus far. He was again strong on the penalty kill where he logged 1:35 of ice time. He also looked strong offensively.

Panik played very heavy below the goal line which suits the Caps’ offensive cycle the team likes to utilize. He also showed good vision as, in the third period, he was able to fight off a check and literally kicked the puck out to a wide-open Tavis Boyd in the slot.

With Panik and Carl Hagelin together, the Caps should have a much more formidable penalty kill this season.

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How to watch: Capitals vs. Hurricanes preseason Game 3

How to watch: Capitals vs. Hurricanes preseason Game 3

The Washington Capitals remain undefeated in preseason play, thanks to Tom Wilson's clutch overtime goal and a Nicklas Backstrom bouncing saucer-pass-turned-shot

Saturday night, the Caps will get their first crack at the Carolina Hurricanes, who knocked them out in the first round of the playoffs last season. This game is also the first one that comes after the Caps whittled their roster down after the first round of cuts, which included Caps 2019 draft picks Connor McMichael and Aliaksei Protas.

The Caps will face the Hurricanes in the regular season on October 5 at Capital One Arena in their home opener.

CAPITALS-HURRICANES PRESEASON GAME 3: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: Saturday, September, 21, 7:00 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 game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

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