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Roy signs in Switzerland; Brouwer scores in debut

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Roy signs in Switzerland; Brouwer scores in debut

News and notes as the Capitals prepare to hit the ice for their final practice before starting the 2015-16 NHL season on Saturday against the New Jersey Devils at Verizon Center (6 p.m. pregame, CSN):

Roy signs with Bern:  Center Derek Roy, who signed a professional tryout contract with the Capitals and was cut from their training camp roster on Monday, has agreed to a one-year contract with SC Bern of the Swiss National League.

Roy, 32, played well in four preseason games with the Capitals, recording one goal and one assist, but with an undefined role as a 13th forward the Caps were declined to offer him a contract.  

Roy will joining former Panthers forward Sean Bergenheim, 31, who signed with Bern on Wednesday.

Brouwer scores in debut: Former Caps right wing Troy Brouwer scored into an empty net with 17.4 seconds remaining in the St. Louis Blues’ 3-1 win over the Edmonton McDavids. Brouwer, who is wearing No. 36 for the Blues, logged 17:28 in ice time, including 1:56 on the power play and 1:28 on the penalty kill and recorded a tea-high five shots.

Meanwhile, former Caps right wing Joel Ward logged 18:29 of ice time in his season debut with the San Jose Sharks, a 5-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Ward saw 3:52 on the power play and 3:21 on the penalty kill. He is still wearing No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson.

Former Caps center Eric Fehr, meanwhile, sat out the Penguins’ season opening 3-0 loss to Dallas with an elbow injury.

RELATED SkyCam returns to CSN, Verizon Center this weekend

Former Caps defenseman Mike Green will make his Detroit Red Wings debut tonight at home against Mike Babcock and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Brown skating: Caps right wing Chris Brown continues to skate with strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish as he begins his recovery from what is believed to be a right hand or finger injury. … The Caps participated in a season ticket holder event at Six Flags America in Mitchellville, Md., on Thursday night. … Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen reported that his wife, Katie, and their newborn son, Charlie, are doing well. Charlie arrived over the weekend at 9 pounds and 21 ½ inches. He was named after Niskanen’s father, Charlie. … The Caps will conduct a red carpet event between 3 and 5 p.m. prior to Saturday night’s season opener. Players will take the red carpet outside the F Street entrance of Verizon Center. A live stream will be available from 4-5 p.m. on Monumental Network.  

 

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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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Stanley Cup Final 2018: X-factors that could swing the series

Stanley Cup Final 2018: X-factors that could swing the series

The Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights have met only twice in their history. Neither team was expected to get to this point so you can go ahead and throw away the stats, the matchups, the data and the history. A new story will be written in the Stanley Cup FInal.

Who will ultimately win the Cup? Here are four factors that could ultaimtely swing the series.

1. Goaltending

The Caps have faced elimination only twice in the playoffs and Braden Holtby did not allow a single goal in either game. He enters the Stanley Cup Final having not allowed a single goal in 159:27. Andrei Vasilevskiy began to take over the series with his performance in Game 3, Game 4 and Game 5, but Holtby outplayed him to finish off the series in Washington’s favor.

Marc-Andre Fleury, meanwhile, has been the best player in the playoffs. Not the best goalie, the best player.

Through 15 games, Fleury has a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. As good as Vegas has been this postseason, Fleury has stolen several games for the Golden Knights.

Both of these goalies are certainly capable of stealing away a series for their respective teams. Which one will outplay the other?

2. Time off

Rust is a real thing in hockey. Just any team when they come off a bye week. When the Caps and Golden Knights take the ice on Monday, May 28, it will be the first game for Vegas since May 20. That’s over a week off.

Yes, getting rest at this time of the year is important, but too much rest leads to rust and that should be a major concern for Vegas, especially for a team that was playing so well and has so much momentum.

In the Eastern Conference Final, the Caps stunned the Tampa Bay Lightning by winning both Game 1 and Game 2 in Tampa. Could they do it again with a rusty Vegas team? Will the long layoff cost the Golden Knights one or even two home games to start the series?

3. The McPhee factor

Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee was the Caps’ general manager for 17 years starting with the 1997-98 season. He was fired in 2014, but was ultimately responsible for building the core of the Washington team that is now headed to the Stanley Cup Final.

But that also means he knows those players very, very well.

Nicklas Backstrom, Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky, John Carlson, Christian Djoos, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana, Tom Wilson, Braden Holtby, Philipp Grubauer and of course, Alex Ovechkin were all drafted by McPhee. Jay Beagle was also signed by as an undrafted free agent.

A general manager does not sign or draft anyone without knowing a good deal about the kind of player they are. Does that give McPhee a bit of an edge when it comes to facing the Caps?

4. Speed

The Golden Knights are fast. When the expansion draft was all said and done it was clear McPhee had targeted two things specifically: defensemen and speed. The result is an exceptionally fast Golden Knights team that no one has been able to keep up with so far.

Vegas' speed mixed with the goaltending of Fleury has proven to be a lethal combination. Their mobility makes it hard to get the puck from them or even keep it in the offensive zone. Once they get it, it’s going down the ice very quickly and you better keep up with them or it's going to end up in the back of the net. Once they build a lead, it is very difficult for teams to dig their way out as evidenced by their 10-1 record this postseason when scoring first.

Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh were both fast teams as well and the Capitals were able to combat that with strong play in the neutral zone. The 1-3-1 trap has given opponents fits and generated a lot of odd-man breaks for the Caps. Will it be as effective against a speedy Vegas team?

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