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Despite the win, Caps still struggling on the power play

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Despite the win, Caps still struggling on the power play

The Caps' 4-1 win over Boston on Thursday was a rebound win in many ways, but not in terms of the power play. The special teams unit that used to make the Caps such a dangerous offensive team has struggled of late and continued to do so on Thursday.

The Capitals entered the game against Boston on a power play drought after failing to score on their last nine power plays. That streak extended to 10 after the Bruins were able to kill off Torey Krug's first period penalty.

"It was getting frustrating and it was getting tense because the power play's used to having success," Barry Trotz said.

The Caps did finally snap their drought in the second period, but it came on a two-man advantage against a Boston team ranked 30th in the NHL in the penalty kill. For the game, the Caps managed only one power play goal in four opportunities and failed to score on any of their 5-on-4 opportunities against the league's worst penalty kill.

"We've got the same guys on there," Carlson said. "The success has been there, it's not for a lack of want."

"The power play's been getting lots of chances, but in the end you want the goals," Trotz said.

RELATED: Ovechkin, Laich score as Capitals blow out Bruins

It doesn't take long to figure out just where power play unit has been lacking.

Despite having seven goals already in the 2015-16 campaign, Alex Ovechkin does not have a single goal on the power play. His shot from the left faceoff circle has been lethal for years, but the team has struggled to get him the puck in a position where he can unleash his deadly one-timer.

Part of this may be due to the departure of power play fixture Mike Green in the offseason. Besides Nicklas Backstrom, nobody seems to feed Ovechkin as well as Green did.

Part of it also may be due to teams adjusting to the Caps' setup.

"When you've got some of the premiere players in the league, teams are going to really really scout and not take any chances," Carlson said. "People are smart these days. There's things you can do. For us, we've just got to do a better job countering that."

In professional leagues, teams never manage to stay ahead of the curve for very long. Eventually, everyone starts to catch up.

Still, there's no sense of panic in the locker room. Whatever frustration the team felt about the team's power play drought was gone after the goal two-man advantage.

"We wanted to get a little jump back on the power play and get a little mojo and see pucks go in," Carlson said. "I think that was big. That was big for the game, that was big for us moving forward."

Even though the goal now gives the Caps one goal in their last 13 opportunities and did not address the team's struggles on the 5-on-4 advantage, the overwhelming feeling amongst the team is that the goals are coming, it's just a matter of patience.

Said Trotz, "There's too many good individuals on that power play and it's been a good power play for a long time so we're going to score."

MORE CAPITALS: Latta drops gloves with Randell for first fight of Caps season

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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

DALLAS—The Caps are “really close” to signing star defenseman John Carlson to a long-term extension, GM Brian MacLellan said Friday night.

“We’re getting closer,” MacLellan said following the first round of the NHL Draft. “Hopefully we can get it done here over the next few days. We’re really close.”

Earlier in the day, the Caps cleared significant space under the salary cap ceiling by trading Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round draft pick (47th overall). 

That space will now be used to lock up Carlson, who could become the best defenseman on the open market if he were to reach it.

MacLellan met with Carlson’s agent, Rick Curran, here on Thursday night.

MacLellan did not divulge any figures, but it’s expected that Carlson’s new contract could come in at eight years and $8 million per—or perhaps a bit more. 

He earned $4 million last season.

Carlson had a career year in 2017-18 and was critical during the Caps' run to the Stanley Cup. He led all defensemen in the regular season with 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists). The 28-year-old also skated a career-high 24:47 per game.

MacLellan has long said that re-signing Carlson was the Caps’ top priority this offseason. And now it looks like that could happen within days, assuming the talks do not hit any snags.

“We’re going to do our best to sign John,” MacLellan said. “We’ve said it all along. We waited until the end of the year. We’ve had discussions. We’re close and hopefully we can close the deal here over the next 24 hours.”

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Capitals go to the WHL again, select defenseman Alex Alexeyev with first-round pick

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Capitals go to the WHL again, select defenseman Alex Alexeyev with first-round pick

The last time the Washington Capitals had a first-round draft pick, they selected a WHL defenseman. They did not go off script on Friday.

With the last pick of the first round, selecting for the first time as defending Stanley Cup champions, the Capitals selected Alexander Alexeyev, a left-shooting, two-way defenseman from St. Petersburg.

Alexeyev, 18, certainly boasts NHL size at 6' 4", 196 pounds. He currently plays for Red Deer in the WHL, a junior league that has become a major pipeline for the Capitals. In his second season with Red Deer, he tallied 37 points in 45 games.

The NHL Central Scouting's rankings list Alexeyev as the 22nd best North American skater of the draft. TSN projects him to be a top-four, two-way defenseman.

Analyst Craig Button described Alexeyev as a "Smart, effective defenceman who moves the puck, plays with a calm and doesn't make things complicated for himself."

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