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Johansson shares thoughts on going to arbitration

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Johansson shares thoughts on going to arbitration

While most of the hockey world’s attention will be on Thursday’s arbitration hearing in Toronto between the Capitals and goaltender Braden Holtby, Caps left wing Marcus Johansson is not stressing much over his own arbitration hearing scheduled for July 29 in Toronto.

Johansson is believed to be seeking more than $4 million a season, while the Capitals probably would like to keep his salary at or below $3.5 million.

“Right now I am ready for the season, as usual,” Johansson told the Swedish website Varmlands-Folkblad in a story posted on Tuesday and translated by Hockey Ramblings.

“I’m not worried about that. I think I will continue to play (in Washington). My focus right now is on training hard and getting myself prepared, for I know I will be playing.”

Like Holtby, Johansson, 24, is a restricted free agent who elected for salary arbitration on July 5. He posted career highs in goals (20), assists (27) and points (47) last season. The Caps made him a qualifying offer believed to be equal to his 2014-15 salary of $2.175 million on June 26, and there were discussions of a two- or three-year bridge contract that would take Johansson to unrestricted free agency.

MORE CAPS: PROSPECT EATS A COBRA HEART?!?!

Johansson’s agent, Marc Levine, told CSNwashington.com in an email last week that there was “nothing to comment on at this point other than we are preparing for the arbitration hearing on July 29.”

Johansson has played through two contracts with the Capitals and is due to become an unrestricted free agent in two years, at the age of 26, because he will have played in seven NHL seasons.

His entry level contract paid him $900,000 in each of his first three NHL seasons. He followed with a two-year deal that paid him $1.85 million in 2013-14 and $2.175 million last season.

If Holtby is awarded somewhere in the $6.5 million range, the Caps would have less than $4 million in cap space to accommodate Johansson. If an arbitrator awards a player $3.8 million or more, an NHL team has the right to walk away from that player, something the Caps would be hesitant to do with Johansson considering they could retain his rights for two more years.

If the awards for Holtby and Johansson push them over the NHL’s $71.4 million salary cap – they are currently at $61.1 million, according to www.generalfanager.com - the Caps have until the NHL season opener on Oct. 7 to get under the cap.

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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

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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! 

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