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Prospect Report: Three prospects impressing at World Juniors

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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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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

The Stanley Cup is not the only trophy that will be awarded at the end of the Stanley Cup Final series between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights. The Conn Smythe will also be given to the player deemed the most valuable to his team during the playoffs.

Who will that player be?

It's not hard to figure out who the frontrunner is right now. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't just been the best goalie in the playoffs, he's been the best player with a dominant postseason in which he has posted a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. He has been so dominant, he could win it even if Vegas loses the series.

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

The last player from the losing team to win the Conn Smythe was Jean-Sebastian Giguere from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003.

But what about the Caps?

Alex Ovechkin is the leader of Washington and has been absolutely dominant throughout the postseason. He even scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Surprisingly, however, Ovechkin does not lead the team in points through the playoffs. Evgeny Kuznetsov holds that edge with 24 points to Ovechkin's 22.

Will their offensive dominance propel them to win the Cup and the Conn Smythe? Will a different player emerge as the hero of the series?

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

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Las Vegas changes iconic welcome sign to include no capital letters

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Twitter/City of Las Vegas

Las Vegas changes iconic welcome sign to include no capital letters

The Washington Capitals official #ALLCAPS hashtag started in 2017 during a Caps-Penguins game after the Pittsburgh Penguins' official Twitter account decided to tweet in all lowercase letters during the game. 

Now, as the Caps look to face the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final ahead of Game 1 Monday, Vegas has followed suit by changing their iconic "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign to include only lowercase letters, a jab at the Capitals #ALLCAPS.

Additionally, the City's official Twitter account has changed their handle to "the city of las vegas" without any capital letters and the hashtag #nocaps.

It will be interesting to see how the Capitals' official Twitter will respond...

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