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Oshie already looking like a good fit with Caps

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Oshie already looking like a good fit with Caps

In the span of about three minutes on Saturday, T.J. Oshie showed Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan why he gave up Troy Brouwer, Pheonix Copley and a third-round draft pick to pry him from the St. Louis Blues over the summer.

With MacLellan watching from his perch behind the net at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, Oshie took a centering pass from former Blues teammate Derek Roy, patiently waited for goaltender Justin Peters to go down, then dragged the puck past Peters, scoring into an open net.

A few minutes later, on a 2-on-1 with Marcus Johansson, Oshie forced Peters to commit to a shot, then deftly slid the puck to Johansson at the side of the net for a slam dunk.

This is what the Capitals are hoping to see from Oshie this season, an ability to create and finish with equal ability.

Oshie practiced on a line with Roy and left wing Sean Collins on Saturday and there is a good chance Roy, 32, and Oshie, 28, could stick together for a few preseason games as the Caps evaluate whether Roy is capable of making the roster.   

Oshie averaged 20 goals and 28 assists in his last two seasons in St. Louis and he could exceed those totals if he is given ice time on the top line and on the first power play unit with the Capitals.

“I think I’m a quick enough learner where the systems aren’t going to be too hard for me,” he said. “A lot of it is similar, just different terminology. That’s going to be easy and I feel like I’m in great shape, so I’ll be rolling with the punches like everyone else.”

Oshie, who signed dozens of autographs after getting off the ice, said he’s anxious to get his first preseason game with the Capitals under his belt and he’s expected to get that chance Monday night at Verizon Center against the Carolina Hurricanes, when, regardless of the outcome after regulation, the two teams will experiment with five minutes of 3-on-3 play.

Oshie, a shootout specialist, said he’s looking forward to the wide open overtime action.

“There are some skilled players here so I’m just going to try to scratch the lineup for 3-on-3,” Oshie said. “I think it’ll be a cool thing. I think not a lot of games are going to go to shootout, which is unfortunate, but I think it’s going to be fun to watch for the fans and for the players.”

For Oshie, he will be trying to re-write a familiar script in the playoffs. Like the Capitals, the Blues followed impressive regular seasons with premature playoff exits, failing to get past the second round of the playoffs in each of the past four seasons despite finishing no worse than second in the Central Division.

The Caps have not gotten past the second round of the playoffs since going to the Stanley Cup FInal in 1998.

“As far as the post season, hopefully we can make the jump here that we weren’t able to make in St. Louis when I was there,” Oshie said. 

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2018-19 Metropolitan Division preview: Carolina Hurricanes

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USA TODAY Sports

2018-19 Metropolitan Division preview: Carolina Hurricanes

The Capitals have won the Metropolitan Division three straight years. Can they defend their title? Here’s a preview of each team in the division for the 2018-19 season.

Today's team: Carolina Hurricanes

2017-18 Results: 36-35-11, 83 points, sixth in the division. Did not qualify for the playoffs.

Notable acquisitions: F Micheal Ferland, F Andrei Svechnikov, D Dougie Hamilton, D Calvin de Haan, G Petr Mrazek, head coach Rod Brind’Amour

Notable departures: F Elias Lindholm, F Joakim Nordstrom, F Derek Ryan, F Jeff Skinner, F Lee Stempniak, D Noah Hanifin, G Cam Ward, head coach Bill Peters

When they will play the Caps: Dec. 14 in Raleigh, Dec. 27 in Washington, March 26 in Washington, March 28 in Raleigh

Offseason recap: The offseason was one of change for the Hurricanes as new owner Tom Dundon tried to make his mark. Peters and Ron Francis are out, Brind’Amour and Don Waddell are in as coach and general manager. Carolina’s new front office had a busy offseason with a number of splashy moves.

Hanifin, Lindholm and Skinner all will have new homes next season as the Hurricanes traded all three players in two big-time trades. Hanifin and Lindholm netted the team Hamilton, Ferland and a prospect while Skinner brought back a prospect, a second, a third and a sixth-round pick.

In addition, Carolina also added Svechnikov with the second-overall pick in the draft.

Biggest strength: Defense

Carolina was solid defensively last season, it just didn't seem that way because of how bad the goaltending was. Adding de Haan and Hamilton bolsters what was already a formidable blue line.

Biggest weakness: Goaltending

Did I mention how bad their goaltending was last season? Darling and Ward combined for a .909 save percentage, better only than the Buffalo Sabres. Ward put up better numbers (2.73 GAA, .906 save percentage) than Darling (3.18 GAA, .888 save percentage), but he has moved on to the Chicago Blackhawks. To replace him, the Hurricanes picked up Mrazek who also struggled last season (3.03 GAA, .902 save percentage).

So to recap, Ward and Darling both had subpar years, but to replace Ward the Hurricanes picked up a goalie who was worse.

It makes sense that Carolina would want to give Darling another shot at earning the starting job considering they traded for him to be their starter of the future, but just because the goaltending could not get much worse than last season is no guarantee it will be better.

2018-19 season outlook: The Hurricanes enter the season with a lot of question marks.

Can Brind'Amour handle the responsibilities of being a head coach in the NHL with zero head coaching experience at any level? Did they do enough to address their scoring woes? Will someone play like a starting-caliber goalie? Is Dundon breaking the mold of an NHL owner or will his meddling negatively impact the team? Will Hamilton adjust to his new team? Is Svetchnikov ready for a top-line role in his rookie season? Is Sebastian Aho a center?

If they can find positive answers to all of those questions, this is a team that could surprise. More likely, however, there are simply too many issues in Carolina right now for this team to make any real noise.

A new owner, new general manager, new head coach and a new-look roster are too much for one team to adjust to in one season.

2018-19 season prediction: The Hurricanes miss the playoffs and it's not close.

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Heroes on the ice: Every Capitals player's superhero character

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USA TODAY Sports, Marvel and DC Comics

Heroes on the ice: Every Capitals player's superhero character

Look, up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's the Washington Capitals!

It's not hard to picture your favorite athletes as superheroes. What the Caps are able to do on the ice seems almost superhuman at times.

Heck, they even have uniforms!

SEE EVERY CAPITALS PLAYER'S SUPERHERO CHARACTER HERE

But the similarities don't just end with the physical attributes and abilities. When you begin to really think about each player, you can see a lot of similarities between each of them and some well-known superheroes.

If each Caps player was a superhero, which one would they be? Check out each player's superhero character here.

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