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Caps media day: Todd Reirden runs camp in Trotz's absence

Caps media day: Todd Reirden runs camp in Trotz's absence

ARLINGTON, Va. — The unofficial start of the season is here as Capitals training camp began with media day on Friday.

This year's camp feels very different without head coach Barry Trotz who remains with Team Canada coaching in the World Cup of Hockey. Also absent are goalies Braden Holtby (Canada) and Philipp Grubauer (Europe), forwards Alex Ovechkin (Russia), Evgeny Kuznetsov (Russia), T.J. Oshie (USA) and Nicklas Backstrom (Sweden) and defensemen John Carlson (USA), Matt Niskanen (USA) and Dmitry Orlov (Russia).

All eyes at the start of camp were on defenseman Karl Alzner who underwent sports hernia surgery after the season. The defenseman took part in practice and seemed to skate well, but he did not take part in the conditioning skate test at the end of practice.

Check back for live updates throughout media day.

UPDATE 1:54 p.m.

The Caps have said they hope to keep a young prospect on the roster as a 14th forward this season. Could that player be Zach Sanford to start? He certainly hopes so and he is looking to make an impression early in camp.

UPDATE 1:58 p.m.

The odd feeling of training camp without the head coach and several key players has been an early theme of training camp.

"Obviously a little strange," veteran Justin Williams said. "I know we're going to get a few guys soon. I know they're probably not happy about having two training camps but it is what is. But obviously a little different, but being fresh and being new is something that's fun. Once it gets monotonous and you do stuff over and over again, it gets a little boring. So it's just something that we'll enjoy."

UPDATE 2:51 p.m.

Lars Eller seems to be adjusting well to his new team despite the bizarre circumstances of the World Cup. He also seems to be enjoying the fact that he has a clear, defined role with the Caps, something he did not have in Montreal.

"I have two all-star caliber centers in front of me, so they are gonna see a lot of ice time, as they should," Eller said. "I think my role is gonna be be a strong third line center and being able to play both ends of the ice but bring some offense to the third line. I think the best teams in the league, to compete for a Cup, you need good depth down the middle, you good need good depth down the lineup. You need to have three, maybe four lines scoring. The last many years playoffs, a lot of big goals are scored by not only the first two lines but also guys down the lineup. I think things like that’s going to be important going down the line.”

UPDATE 2:57 p.m.

Associate coach Todd Reirden who is running camp in Trotz's absence spoke to media after practice. He updated the status of the American player returning from the World Cup saying they would be on the ice by Monday. Trotz put together a plan for the returning players before leaving and Reirden is following that plan.

UPDATE 3:03 p.m.

When asked what young stood out in the early going, Reirden named Sanford specifically as someone who was taking advantage of the opportunity he was being given with fewer veteran players at camp. He also mentioned the absence of so many defensemen would leave opening for Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos and Jonas Seigenthaler to impress the coaches.

UDPATE 3:51 p.m.

Reirden spoke glowingly of defenseman Dmitry Orlov, saying he was very excited the team was able to re-sign him and that he had only begun "touching the surface" of his potential.

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3 things to watch in Caps vs. Panthers

3 things to watch in Caps vs. Panthers

The Capitals play their last home game of October on Friday as they host the Florida Panthers (7 p.m., NBC Sports Washington). Here’s what you need to watch.

Dmitrij Jaskin is back in

Todd Reirden has made one adjustment to the lineup for Friday’s game, putting Dmitrij Jaskin back in on the fourth line in place of Nathan Walker. Jaskin has yet to record a point since joining the Capitals, but that has a lot to do with where he was coming from.

“This team is based on being creative and it's probably something that I missed in the last few years,” Jaskin said following Friday’s morning skate.

In St. Louis, Jaskin was coached by Mike Yeo and, before him, Ken Hitchcock. Both coaches preach a hard-nosed offensive style based more on effort and being defensively responsible than skill. Coming to a team like Washington then, a team that encourages skill and creativity on offense, is a pretty dramatic change.

Jaskin has played a very safe style since coming into the lineup. It’s good to be defensively responsible, but not if it completely chokes the life out of the offense. Jaskin is hardly generating any offense at all thus far since coming to Washington.

After a few more practices, can it finally spark some skill and creativity from Jaskin?

Can the Caps get the bottom six back on track?

The Caps have gotten only two goals in six games from their bottom six and both came in the team’s blowout opening win against Boston. The third and fourth lines generated some chances on Wednesday, but afterward, Reirden stressed that the team needed to see more production from its depth forwards.

“We've got to continue to get scoring depth wise if we want to have success in this league,” he said. “That's where everything's headed is you can't rely on your top guys to come through for you every night and we'll continue to focus on finding the right chemistry with that third and fourth line to be able to give us some added offense there as well.”

Florida could provide a good opportunity for those players to get some points on the board.

Starting goalie Roberto Luongo is out with an injury and James Reimer will get the start on Friday. In three games, Reimer has a GAA of 3.62 and save percentage of .885.

As a team, the Panthers currently rank 24th in goals against per game with 3.50.

Two teams in need of a win

Florida is still searching for its first win of the season with a 0-2-2 record. It is still early, but this is a Panthers team with playoff aspirations and you don’t want to dig yourself in too deep a hole to start or it becomes very difficult to dig out.

The Caps, meanwhile, will be playing in their final home game of October. They leave Saturday for Vancouver to kick-off a three-game Western Canada trip. They then will face the Canadiens in Montreal on Nov. 1 before finally returning home.

Washington’s next home game will not come until Nov. 3. That makes Friday’s game a big one for the Caps as they try to secure two points before hitting the road.

“It's definitely a big game,” Reirden said. “We want to build on some of the things we were able to accomplish last game. It's difficult anytime you go out west with time changes and different stuff. We know that [Florida is] going to be a desperate team that hasn't had the start that they want and they're talented so it's an important game for us to go on the road on a winning note.”


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The Ovechkin's posts family photo with newborn son Sergei


The Ovechkin's posts family photo with newborn son Sergei

Capitals star Alex Ovechkin had arguably the best summer of anyone.

In June, the Capitals won their first ever Stanley Cup, and in August, Ovechkin and his wife Nastya Ovechkina welcomed their first kid.

Although Ovechkin's son Sergei is only a couple months old, the public has not seen much of him. Both Nastya and Alex posted pictures on Instagram of Sergei's foot when he was born, but neither had posted anything of him since.

In honor of Sergei's two month birthday, Nastya posted a picture of the three of them, with Alex holding Sergei in his hands. 

While it is hard to see much of Sergei, this is one of the first pictures of the couple with their newborn present. 

What a happy family!