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Prospect Report: Three prospects impressing at World Juniors


Prospect Report: Three prospects impressing at World Juniors

Hershey update: 16-11-1-5, 4th in the Atlantic Division. Last week: 1-3-0-0

It was a tough week for Hershey as the Bears lost three of four games and dropped to fourth in the division. Goals proved hard to come by after a 5-0 win on Saturday. Hershey managed only five goals in their next three games. Travis Boyd and Madison Bowey each contributed two points.

Jakub Vrana's continued absence continues to hurt Hershey offensively, but the Bears need more from players like Nathan Walker and Riley Barber, both of whom were held without a point in those four games. Zach Sill, Aaron Ness and Connor Carrick are all currently up in the NHL as injuries continue to mount for the Caps so the pressure is on for Boyd, Walker, Barber and Bowey to step up in their absence.

RELATED: What went wrong for the Caps in Carolina?

Other prospect notes:

The IIHF World Junior Championship opened in Finland on Saturday with three Caps prospects participating. Things did not go as Jonas Siegenthaler would have hoped for Switzerland as his team finished last in Group A. The good news is that Siegenthaler established himself as one of the Swiss' top defensemen. He was a physical presence on the blue line and was one of the few bright spots in what was a rough tournament for the Swiss.

Given how much playing time he had, however, and how key he was for the teams' breakouts out of their own zone, you would have liked to see that translate into points. Siegenthaler finished with 0 points for the tournament. His skill set is as a defensive player, he's not expected to be a Mike Green, but clearly the offensive end of the ice is what needs the most work.

Ilya Samsonov was expected to be Russia's top netminder for the tournament but the Russians have largely relied on Alexander Georgiev instead. Samsonov has appeared in only one game, a 4-1 win over Belarus in which he turned aside 17 of 18 shots.

Vitek Vanecek has proven to be the most impressive of the Caps' three representatives as he has carried the Czech Republic to the quarterfinals with a 2-1-1 record. Vanecek has stopped 81 of 91 shots he has faced, showing dramatic improvement from last year's tournament in which he manged only a .829 save percentage and allowed 4.31 goals per game. This year, his GAA has improved to 2.46.

Both Russia and the Czech Republic will get back on the ice for the quarterfinals on Saturday. Russia will face Denmark while the Czech Republic will take on the United States.

Switzerland will play three games against Belarus in the relegation round starting Saturday.

MORE CAPITALS: Caps close out 2015 with first loss in 10 games

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Blue Jackets troll Capitals on Twitter after pulling even atop Metro Division


Blue Jackets troll Capitals on Twitter after pulling even atop Metro Division

The Columbus Blue Jackets threw some serious shade at the Caps Tuesday night after their 7-2 blowout loss to the Predators.

The Jackets are now tied for the Metro lead after the Caps lost their third straight game, and they let them have it on Twitter.

That's a bold jab coming from the team that lost to the Caps in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs...

The GIF comes from Saturday night's overtime loss to the Jackets where Columbus celebrated Artemi Panarin's game-winner with Evgeny Kuznetsov's signature bird celly.

When asked about the copycat celebration last Saturday, Kuzy said, "That's fine. It's nice to get some people that think about me, same as in April last year.”

The Capitals meet the Blue Jackets again Feb. 12 where the only bird celly should come from Kuzy.



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Caps suffer third straight loss as they get rocked in Music City

Caps suffer third straight loss as they get rocked in Music City

The final score of a game can often be deceiving, but that was certainly not the case on Tuesday. The Capitals lost 7-2 to the Nashville Predators in a game every bit as one-sided as the score indicates. Viktor Arvidsson scored a hat trick and Nick Bonino added another two goals in a game that was well in hand before the end of the second period.

Here are three reasons the Caps lost.

Viktor Arvidsson

Arvidsson came into this game with 14 goals this season and 21 points in 23 games. He is one of the best players in the league that no one talks about and that was certainly on display in this game. He wasn’t a one trick pony either. His first goal came on the breakaway, his second was a deflection and his third was a shorthanded breakaway.

Arvidsson’s third goal

As one-sided as the game was, there was a moment in the second period when it looked like Washington was going to claw its way back into it. Down 3-0 in the second period, Nicklas Backstrom scored on the power play to make it 3-1. Less than five minutes later, T.J. Oshie drew a tripping call from Calle Jarnkrok. Suddenly it looked as if the Caps had a chance.

But once again, Washington had no answer for Arvidsson.

Backstrom tried to carry the puck into the offensive zone, but he was met and challenged by Arvidsson. Backstrom lost the puck and Arvidsson took off while Ryan Johansen grabbed the puck in the neutral zone. Johansen fed Arvidsson for the breakaway and he delivered the knockout punch.

Washington was eyeing a 3-2 game, but instead they suddenly found themselves down 4-1 and the rout was on.

Poor decisions

Give all the credit to Nashville for dominating this game, they dominated and deserved to win. Having said that, the Caps were clearly their own worst enemy in Nashville.

Tom Wilson carried the puck into the offensive zone in the first period. With no open passing lane, the only real option he had was to dump and chase or drive himself and pass back to the blue line. Instead, he forced a pass to Ovechkin who had to stop and reach back to grab the puck. He was also being covered by two players so it was no surprise when he turned the puck over. The resulting breakout led to a breakaway and Arvidsson’s first goal.

In the second period, Andre Burakovsky had the puck and looked like he had a lane to shoot or dive to the net. Instead, he pulled up and tried to cross the puck. The pass was easily picked off and Rocco Grimaldi was off in the other direction. He would finish off the play with a highlight-reel spin-o-rama goal, but it all started with a poor decision.

This game was full of those moments. Bad decision by the Caps and the puck was off in the other direction. The uglier the game got, the more Washington’s system and hockey sense went out the window. Two of Nashville’s goals came on the breakaway and one came on a two-on-one. Those type of odd-man breaks happen because of breakdowns.