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Caps' Zach Sanford says stint with Bears 'was good for me'

Caps' Zach Sanford says stint with Bears 'was good for me'

Zach Sanford got exactly what the Capitals hoped he would during his two-plus week stint in the minors: some confidence with the puck on his stick.

In six games with the Hershey Bears, Sanford recorded four goals and three assists while skating primarily on a line Brad Malone and Nathan Walker. Prior to being sent down, Sanford, 22, had no goals and one assist in 19 games with the Capitals.

Sanford wouldn’t say whether he’s suiting up Saturday night against Montreal, but it’s unlikely the team would recall the rookie just for him to sit.

“It was nice to get some ice time, play some power play, get the chance to shoot the puck a little more, get some points,” said Sanford, who was one of eight Caps who took part in the morning skate Saturday.

“It almost gets to the point where you think you’re never going to score again,” he added, referring to his struggles in Washington. “When you see one go in, the pressure relieves a little bit.”

Based on the morning skate, it looks like Andre Burakovsky will be scratched for a third straight game. If Sanford is indeed in the lineup vs. Montreal, that means one other forward must sit. It would not be a surprise if the odd man out is Brett Connolly, though we may not know for sure until pre-game warmups.

Sanford said Capitals Coach Barry Trotz reached out to him multiple times during his stint with the Bears in effort to keep the rookie apprised of the situation in Washington. Earlier this week, Sanford said Trotz sent him a text informing him that he would be recalled ahead Canadiens game.

Sanford admitted that he was frustrated by his demotion late last month. But he also acknowledged that it was ultimately the right decision for his longterm development.

“Initially it’s frustrating for anybody when you get sent down, but I think it’s important to get a breather and take a step back,” he said. “It was good for me. I went in with a good mindset that I was going to work hard as I could, not be pissed off and it turned out well for me…It was huge for me and for my confidence going forward.”

RELATED: 3 bold predictions: Caps face angry Montreal

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How to Watch: Maple Leafs at Capitals: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream

How to Watch: Maple Leafs at Capitals: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream

Sitting firmly at third place in their respective divisions, the Capitals and Maple Leafs are both eager to grab another win for themselves in this classic Atlantic vs Metropolitan division matchup. 

Here is everything you need to know about the Wednesday night game, which takes place at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.

CAPITALS vs. MAPLE LEAFS HOW TO WATCH

What: Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals, Game 8 of the 2019-20 NHL Regular Season

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

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: The Capitals vs Maple Leafs game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Washington Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals vs Maple Leafs on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS VS MAPLE LEAFS TV SCHEDULE

6:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live

6:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live

7:00 PM: Capitals vs Maple Leafs

9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live

10:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live

10:30 PM: Caps Overtime Live

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There’s no setback, but just when Michal Kempny will return remains uncertain

There’s no setback, but just when Michal Kempny will return remains uncertain

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Around the time when the Colorado Avalanche scored its fourth goal to take a 4-0 lead on Monday, the Twitter questions started rolling in. “When is Michal Kempny coming back?”

The Caps’ top-pair left defenseman has yet to play this season after tearing his hamstring in March. His loss was a major factor in the team’s first-round defeat to the Carolina Hurricanes in the playoffs and has led to inconsistent defensive play to start the season.

But the Caps’ defense is going to have to figure out how to defend against the star-studded Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday without Kempny as head coach Todd Reirden declared after practice on Tuesday that Kempny will not play.

“We're getting close,” Reirden said. “That's at least today's report on him without having spoken to our trainer or team doctor anything right now. I just know that he took another step in terms of visually from me that he is getting closer and closer to game action.”

At the start of training camp, the hope was that Kempny would be able to return for the start of the season. He was not. The team elected not to place him on long-term injured reserve which requires a player to miss 10 games. Now seven games into the season, Kempny’s timetable remains uncertain.

When asked if he was hopeful Kempny could return for Friday’s game against the New York Rangers, Reirden did not sound all that confident.

“I am, yeah. I mean, I'm hopeful every time I walk into the training room.”

For the timeline to keep getting pushed back has raised concerns over whether Kempny has suffered a setback in his recovery, but Reirden insists that is not the case.

“There's not nothing to be concerned about,” he said. “If there was a setback I would let you know. There isn't one. He's going on the path he's supposed to be going on and many other people would have this as a longer-term injury than it already has been so he's doing great.”

Kempny was cleared for contact on Oct. 2. and has been a full participant at practice ever since. Getting him back to a point where the doctors and the team can feel comfortable about getting him into the lineup, however, has proven difficult.

Even after losing four of their first seven games to start the season including all three home games, Reirden says the team is committed to remaining patient and cautious with Kempny’s recovery.

“It's making the choice that's the right thing for our organization and for Michal,” he said. “I think that we've been really happy with the development of this player since we got him and saw the strides he made last year and then we were able to realize how big of a loss he would be when we didn't have him. I think that doing anything now to set him up for anything less than success is not worth it. We have to view the risk versus reward and there won't be any risk, it will be that he is 100-percent cleared, ready to go and ready to play.”