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Relive Caps' greatest games of 2011-12

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Relive Caps' greatest games of 2011-12

Itching to see some Capitals hockey?

The Capitals along with Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, the regions leading source for multiplatform sports coverage, today announced plans to air encore presentations of eight memorable Capitals games from the past regular-season and playoffs as part of Capitals Best of 2011-12 between June 25 July 5.

The eight-game series will feature four classic contests from the 2011-12 regular season leading up to four games from the memorable Eastern Conference quarterfinal series versus the Boston Bruins.

The schedule and details of each Capitals game are listed below:

June 25, 2012 at 7 p.m. ETWashington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes (Oct. 8, 2011)The Capitals carried a one-goal lead heading into the third period of Opening Night before Carolina tied the score with less than two minutes to play in regulation. Mike Green fired a slap shot on the power play to give the Capitals the overtime win in the first game of the 2011-12 campaign.

June 26, 2012 at 7 p.m. ETWashington Capitals vs. Ottawa Senators (Dec. 3, 2011)Alex Ovechkin and Brooks Laich suited up for their 500th career game but Nicklas Backstrom struck first to give Washington an early 1-0 lead. After Ottawa evened the score in the second period, the teams traded goals in the third and ended regulation tied 2-2. Just :12 seconds into overtime, Laich found an opening and buried the game-winner to give head coach Dale Hunter his first career NHL win.

June 27, 2012 at 7 p.m. ETWashington Capitals vs. Boston Bruins (Jan. 24, 2012)In what would be a preview of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Bruins jumped out to a one-goal lead with a goal late in the first period. Washington tallied three times in the second period and the two teams entered the games final frame tied at three. Mathieu Perreault capped off his first-career NHL hat trick with a goal in the third period to give the Caps a 5-3 win.

June 28, 2012 at 7 p.m. ETWashington Capitals vs. New York Islanders (Mar. 13, 2012)The Islanders jumped out to an early 3-0 lead before the Caps responded with their first goal of the game. Shortly after, New York scored again to regain their three-goal cushion. Alex Ovechkin tallied late in the second period before the Capitals added a pair of goals in the third (including Ovechkins second of the game) to tie the score at 4-4. The game would go to the shootout where Matt Hendricks would provide some heroics and a 5-4 Caps win.

July 2, 2012 at 7 p.m. ETWashington Capitals vs. Boston Bruins, Game 1 of the ECQF (Apr. 12, 2012)The seventh-seeded Capitals faced off as underdogs against the second seed and defending Stanley Cup-champion Boston Bruins in the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs. Rookie goaltender Braden Holtby made his first NHL playoff start and quickly quieted his critics by matching 2011 Conn Smythe-winning goaltender Tim Thomas save-for-save. The game was tied 0-0 before Boston snuck one by Holtby in overtime to take Game 1.

July 3, 2012 at 7 p.m. ETWashington Capitals vs. Boston Bruins, Game 3 of the ECQF (Apr. 16, 2012)The series shifted to the district for the first time in Game 3. The teams traded goals through the first two periods before Brooks Laich tied the score in the third period with his third point of the night. The teams seemed destined for overtime before Boston pulled ahead for good with a goal inside the final two minutes of the game to take a 2-1 series lead.

July 4, 2012 at 7 p.m. ETWashington Capitals vs. Boston Bruins, Game 4 of the ECQF (Apr. 19, 2012)Needing a win to even the best-of-seven series, the Capitals played solid defense in front of Braden Holtby through the first two periods of Game 4. With the score tied 1-1, the Capitals tallied on the power play to take a 2-1 lead heading into the games final frame. Holtby finished with 44 saves to help the Capitals tie the series 2-2.

July 5, 2012 at 7 p.m. ETWashington Capitals vs. Boston Bruins, Game 7 of the ECQF (Apr. 25, 2012)The underdog Capitals returned to Boston for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Matt Hendricks kicked off the scoring tipping in a John Carlson shot for the early 1-0 Caps lead. Boston evened the score with a second-period goal, setting up a defensive seesaw battle through the final two periods. The game went into overtime as each team traded scoring chances. Less than three minutes into the extra frame, Joel Ward found the back of the net on a rebound goal and sent the Capitals into Round 2.

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Key Caps questions: Will John Carlson repeat his career year after signing long-term?

Key Caps questions: Will John Carlson repeat his career year after signing long-term?

The dog days of summer are officially here, but it's never too hot to talk some hockey.

Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir and Capitals correspondent JJ Regan are here to help you through the offseason doldrums. They will discuss key questions facing the Caps for the upcoming season as Washington prepares to defend its title for the first time in franchise history.

Today's question: Will John Carlson repeat his career year after signing a long-term contract?

Tarik: When a player has a career year and it coincides with the final year of his contract, the reaction from some fans and media is often a sarcastic, ‘Well, of course he did.’

And I’m sure there are some folks who wonder about Carlson’s breakout season and whether there was a connection between the uptick in his production and the potential of an enormous payday.

Indeed, the 28-year-old established highs in goals (15), assists (53), points (68) and ice time (24:47). He was outstanding in the postseason, too, amassing five goals and 15 assists while playing solidly in his own end to help lead the Caps to their first championship.

The financial reward came a couple of weeks later when he signed an eight-year, $64 million contract to remain in Washington.

Which brings us to today’s question.

It’s obviously impossible to say for sure what’s going to happen, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he had another big season. Why? A few reasons:

  • As good as he was, last year wasn’t a total outlier, either. Carlson racked up 55 points (12 goals, 43 assists) in 2014-15, which was tied for fifth best among blue liners that year.
  • He was at his best last season skating with trade deadline addition Michal Kempny. Kempny, of course, also re-upped, agreeing to a four-year extension. So, in theory, Carlson should be able to pick up where he left off.
  • Carlson has credited Todd Reirden with helping him take his game to new heights. Well, Reirden is now the guy in charge of the whole operation. How could that not help?
  • A major reason Carlson puts up so many points is his role on the power play. And that unit, which really hit its stride in the postseason (29.3-percent), returns all five skaters.
  • Carlson has also been pretty durable, which is critical to being productive. In fact, last season he skated in all of the Caps’ games for the sixth time in eight full-time seasons.

So, yeah, it’s all setting up nicely for Carlson to have a strong 2018-19.

To me, the only unknown is whether he’ll have the same hunger and determination now that he’s got long-term security and that previously elusive championship ring.

Again, that’s impossible to predict. But I can tell you this: Over the course of two decades in this business, I’ve covered lots of players who inked life-changing contracts. With a few of them, I had immediate concerns.

I have no such reservations about Carlson's ability to play up to his new deal, particularly in the first several seasons of it.

JJ: There's nothing wrong with a player being motivated by a new deal, but I am always wary when players have career years on the last year of their contract.

The issue is whether or not a player can continue to play at the level they showed when a new contract is no longer a motivating factor. After signing a new deal for eight years and $64 million, Carlson won't have to think about money or contracts for a long time.

When it comes to motivation, a lot of the questions surrounding the Capitals this year will depend on how they react to winning the Cup. Of course everyone wants to repeat, but psychologically will they come into camp more motivated than ever to defend their title or will they be satisfied with finally winning it all?

For Carlson, there are several reasons to be hopeful. Tarik went over a number of those reasons above, but the two biggest for me are Michal Kempny and Todd Reirden.

This season, Carlson will have Kempny as his partner to start, rather than a cycle of practically every left-handed defenseman on the ice depending on the situation. Second, what Mitch Korn is to goalies, Reirden is to defensemen. With him as the head coach, I believe the ceiling for Carlson will only continue to climb.

Let's also go beyond the numbers. Matt Niskanen suffered an injury early last season that forced Carlson into a primary role on both ends of the ice. He was playing nearly 30 minutes a night and, with two rookies on the blue line who Barry Trotz did everything he could to shelter, those were very hard minutes. Yet, Carlson excelled. The offensive upside was always there, but the way he played defensively was a revelation.

While Dmitry Orlov and Niskanen will remain a solid pair for the Caps, I believe Carlson will be the guy heading into the season which will mean more minutes and more responsibility.

Plus, despite what he meant to the team's defense and despite leading all defensemen in points with 68, Carlson was not selected to participate in the All-Star Game, he was not one of the three finalists for the Norris Trophy and he was not among the four defensemen named to the end of season All-Star team. His incredible season earned him no recognition at all other than his new contract. A $64 million contract is a heck of a consolation prize, but his season deserved more recognition than that.

You don't often see a player of his caliber enter a season with a chip on his shoulder, but Carlson should have a fairly sizable one.

Other key questions

How will the Caps look different under Todd Reirden?
Will the Caps suffer a Stanley Cup hangover?
Can Alex Ovechkin still challenge for another Rocket Richard Trophy?
Has Evgeny Kuznetsov made the jump from really good player to superstar?

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Capitals re-sign Madison Bowey leaving Tom Wilson the lone remaining RFA

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals re-sign Madison Bowey leaving Tom Wilson the lone remaining RFA

Defenseman Madison Bowey re-signed with the Capitals on Thursday, inking a two-year extension that will carry an average of $1 million.

Bowey carried a cap charge of $703,333 last season.

The 23-year-old appeared in 51 games for the Caps in 2017-18, amassing 12 assists, 24 penalty minutes and a plus/minus rating of minus-3.

Bowey also suited up in nine contests for AHL Hershey, though he finished the season as one of the Black Aces during Washington's run to the Stanley Cup.

With Bowey back in the fold, the Caps now have six of seven defenseman from last season’s roster under contract. (Veteran Brooks Orpik remains an unrestricted free agent.)

Bowey had an uneven first year in the NHL—he didn’t play following the late-February addition of Michal Kempny—but the Caps expect that the 6-2, 198-pound right-shot blue liner will become reliable full-time player with more seasoning.

Bowey’s deal leaves Tom Wilson as the Caps' only remaining unsigned restricted free agent. The sides are in discussions on a multi-year extension.

Including Bowey’s extension, the Caps have roughly $7.3 million in salary cap space remaining, according to CapFriendly.

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