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Plenty of veteran defensemen still on NHL market

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Plenty of veteran defensemen still on NHL market

The start of NHL training camps is still 10 days away and there are quite a few unsigned veterans waiting by their cell phones for a chance to continue their careers, likely at a steeply discounted price.

Depending on that price, would the Caps be interested in making a call? If so, who might interest them?

Up front, the Caps appear to be set with 12 forwards (including Michael Latta) under contract and a handful  of prospects (Stan Galiev, Liam O’Brien, Chandler  Stephenson and Jakub Vrana) hoping to grab a spot as a 13th forward.

Between the pipes the Caps are expected to go with Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer, which means Justin Peters likely would be placed on waivers with the intent of him playing in Hershey. That would clear an additional $950,000 in cap space, giving the Caps roughly $1.4 million in cap room.

Which brings us to the Capitals’ blue line.

With John Carlson, Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen and Karl Alzner locked in as the Caps’ top two pairings, the Caps have 24-year-old defensemen Dmitry Orlov and Nate Schmidt penciled in as their third pair, with Taylor Chorney, 28, slated as a seventh defenseman. Madison Bowey, Connor Carrick and Aaron Ness are also on the Caps’ defensive depth chart, but what if they decide they need a veteran presence among their bottom three?

MORE CAPITALS Chimera embracing veteran role with the Caps

Would anyone on this list of free agents interest them if they remain unsigned through the end of September and can be acquired at a discounted price?

Cody Franson, 27, (2014-15 cap hit: $3.3 million)

Franson is big (6-5, 213) and is a right shot, which the Caps could use, but he’s coming off a sub-par season (7-29-36, minus-7) and 30 teams have declined to sign him since he became a free agent.

Andrej Meszaros, 29, (2014-15 cap hit: $4.75 million)

At 6-2, 223 pounds, Meszaros is a strong, solid defender with 645 games of NHL experience.  He averaged nearly 18 minutes a game for the Sabres last season but was a minus-13 in 60 games.

Anton Volchenkov, 33, (2014-15 cap hit: $1 million)

If you want a guy willing to get in front of screaming slap shots and get in the face of opponents, Volchenkov is your man. But 12 years of blocking shots have taken a toll on the Russian blue liner, who is hoping to get one more season out of his bruised body.

Marek Zidlicky, 38, (2014-15 cap hit: $4 million)

Another veteran on the backside of his career, Zidlicky gives you everything Volchenkov doesn’t. He’s got a right-shot cannon from the point and can run a power play as well as anyone. He’s also extremely durable for a man his age, playing in 84 games last season for the Devils and Red Wings, recording seven goals and 27 assists.

Tim Gleason, 32, (2014-15 cap hit: $1.2 million)

The Caps know exactly what they’re getting with Gleason, a hard-nosed, shot-blocking veteran who said he’d like to return to Washington after logging an average of 13:07 in 14 playoff games last spring.

 

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Capitals vs. Canucks: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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USA Today

Capitals vs. Canucks: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Washington Capitals (3-2-2) head to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada after an overtime/shootout loss against the Florida Panthers last Friday. 

The Caps are determined to avoid the devastation they felt in the first period when they gave away four goals to the Panthers. They will need to focus in the power plays and avoid penalties at all costs.

Many fans were looking forward to the reunion with former player Jay Beagle, who is now centerman for the Canucks, but he is unfortunately out on injury. However you can look out for Caps Nic Dowd, who will have his own homecoming game against his former team. 

Here is everything you need to know about Capitals vs. Canucks which takes place at 10:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.
 

CAPITALS vs. CANUCKS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Vancouver Canucks, Game 8 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season

Where: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

When: Monday, October 22 at 10:00 p.m. ET

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

Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals vs. Canucks 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. CANUCKS SCHEDULE

9:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live
9:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live
10:00 PM: Capitals vs. Canucks
12:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live

CAPITALS vs. CANUCKS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Lars Eller, F, Capitals: In his last game, he had a three-point night with three assists. He is a messaive help and shined within the trio of Vrana and Connoly on Friday.

Tim Schaller, F, Canucks: He was struggling in the preseason but came back with a vengeance. He assisted with a penatly kill and is a key component in fourth line. 

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

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What is a back-up goalie’s job during a game?

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USA TODAY

What is a back-up goalie’s job during a game?

At the end of every bench in the NHL is a goalie sitting in full pads and a hat. What is his job during the game?

Friday’s game between the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers was one of the rare games that featured four goalies. Braden Holtby and James Reimer started, but both were ultimately pulled in what was a high-scoring affair. In stepped Pheonix Copley and Michael Hutchinson.

And yet, despite being little more than an afterthought in the team’s preparation for the game, both Copley (one goal allowed on 19 shots, .947 save percentage) and Hutchinson (one goal allowed on 11 shots, .909 save percentage) stepped in and out-performed the starters giving both of their respective teams a chance to win the game.

“It's easier in some aspects,” Holtby said of coming into a game off the bench, something he has done at various points of his career despite being the primary starter for Washington. “I think that's why you see a lot of guys go in and have success right away and have good games because you don't have that day or two days to be getting rid of your thoughts and that kind of thing.”

At the end of every bench in the NHL is a goalie sitting in full pads and a hat. Every team dresses two goalies on the roster for a game. One starts and one sits on the bench as the backup in case he is needed because of injury or because a coach chooses to make a goalie switch. That backup is tasked with being ready at all times to step into the game knowing full well that, if all goes according to plan, he will not get to play at all.

Holtby and Reimer had prepared for Friday’s game knowing they were going to start. Both players took warmups in order to prepare them to play a full game while Copley and Hutchinson had little reason to think they would see any action at all.

By the end of the second period, however, both Holtby and Reimer had been replaced. Copley at least had an intermission to prepare as he came on at the start of the second period while Hutchinson had to step in midway through the second period.

“I guess it can be a little challenging,” Copley said, “But I feel like as long as you’re kind of paying attention to the game and your mind's kind of in that hockey mindset then if something happens, I'll be ready to go.”

Professional athletes are creatures of habit. To have to step into a game unexpectedly with little to no warning or preparation and be expected to perform at the highest level is an incredibly tough mental challenge.

And yet, in many ways, it can be easier than starting.

“The whole thing about mental preparation is so that you go out there not thinking about anything, not worrying about any of that,” Holtby said. “When you're forced in with a matter of 30 seconds, there's no time to think about anything. You just go in and play.”

For goalies, not starting does not mean having the night off. Both coaches and teammates alike can lean upon a backup netminder as an extra set of eyes.

“Sometimes they'll ask a question like did it look like I had room there?” Copley said. “Was it a shot or missed? Did you see what happened on this play? So I just try to be there and watch.”

Some coaches even give goalies assignments in game, though that practice seems to be on the decline.

“I know [Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock] makes them look at faceoffs or something,” Holtby said. “It's pretty archaic. There's guys that do that now that are better than the backup goalie at looking at things.”

In truth, there is no defined in-game requirements for most goalies in the NHL when they sit as backups and that is true of the Caps’ tandem. That makes the job of a backup a very simple one.

“I just try and be ready if I have to go in,” Copley said. “Make sure I'm physically and mentally ready and be a good teammate.”

Holtby put it even more succinctly as he said, “Don't do anything stupid.”