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There's a spot on the Caps' blue line waiting for Madison Bowey. Will he seize it?

There's a spot on the Caps' blue line waiting for Madison Bowey. Will he seize it?

As the battle for the two open jobs on the Capitals’ blue line intensifies, one guy you’ll definitely want to keep an eye on is Madison Bowey.

His ankle is 100-percent.

He dropped a dozen pounds over the summer in an effort to get quicker.

He’s also as determined as he’s ever been.

“You have that extra motivation because you know [that] this year there’s a chance it’ll be your year,” said Bowey, who is expected to make his preseason debut Wednesday night in Montreal. “This year is my best opportunity.”

Indeed, it is.

RELATED: WHO IMPRESSED IN THE CAPS' PRESEASON OPENER?

Bowey might have made his NHL debut a year ago, but a gruesome ankle injury caused by an opponent’s skate blade sidelined him from late December him until mid-March. A week after the 2013 second round pick returned to the Bears’ lineup, he took a puck off the face, suffering two small fractures near his orbital bone in the process.

“Wearing a fishbowl a week after you just got back [from being out] three months was tough,” he cracked.

It wasn’t a completely lost season, though.

“It was the [second round] playoffs series against Providence when I really felt like myself again,” he said. “It was tough. I came back [in the regular season] and felt good and then I started kinda feeling it again. But in that Providence series, I really felt like that was my best, that I was getting back to my game. It was our last series and I ended off on a good note and I felt really good about my game heading onto the offseason.”

Bowey also entered the offseason knowing that he had some serious work to do in order to get his ankle back to 100-percent.

“Injuries happen,” he said. “Obviously, it’s what you do after that injury and how you bounce back. This summer was huge for me in that regard. I really got three months of hard training on and off the ice and I think that went a long way for me. I feel great.”

In addition to rehabbing the ankle, Bowey skated regularly with fellow Winnipeg residents Cody Eakin, Eric Fehr, Jonathan Toews and Travis Hamonic, among others.

Bowey also focused on dropping some excess body fat. Although he already considered himself nutrition conscious, he managed to lose a dozen pounds by cutting carbs and giving up ice cream.

As a result, he’s now listed at 6-2, 198.

“I felt 210 [pounds] was too much for my legs to handle,” Bowey said. “I feel a lot better on the ice and more explosive. I feel more mobile for sure. My cardio is way better than it was a year ago. I can skate well, and that’s huge in this league. Right now you can see the teams that are successful, their ‘D’ are mobile, they like to join the rush and contribute offense.”

He added: “There are two spots open and there’s a lot of great guys competing for it. I feel really confident in myself right now going into the preseason. It’s up to me to really just focus on the little things that I do right and not try to do too much and make sure I know when to pick my spots when the time is right. Hopefully I can help contribute to this team this year.”

One doesn’t have to look very hard to find a spot for Bowey in the lineup. As a right shot, he could fit very nicely on the third pairing alongside Brooks Orpik, a 15-year veteran who could also serve as a mentor for the 22-year-old.

Bowey has put himself in position but it’s no slam dunk that he'll make the opening night roster. He doesn’t have to clear waivers to be sent to the minors, the competition is stiff and Coach Barry Trotz is still waiting to see if he's able to put it all together.

“Probably like all of the defensemen, he’s had some really good moments and he’s had some moments of uncertainty or not so good moments,” Trotz said. “Tomorrow he’ll get an opportunity to be in a game and show what he can do. That’s really what separates everything. He practices well. He moves well. He’s got the skillset to do the right things. But can he make the strength and the skill and the skating translate into productive play in an NHL game? That’s the next step for Madison.” 

MORE CAPITALS: NESS' SKATING ABILITY GIVES HIM A CHANCE TO EARN A SPOT IN THE LINEUP

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Capitals vs. Canadiens preseason Game 3: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

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Capitals vs. Canadiens preseason Game 3: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

Coming off two preseason losses to the Bruins, the Capitals look to secure their first win of the preseason in Montreal against the Canadiens on Thursday night.

The Canadiens are one of the four teams the Capitals will face in preseason play, along with the Bruins, Hurricanes, and Blues.

The next time the Capitals and Canadiens will meet again will be the first of November back in Montreal.  

But first, it's time to get back on the ice for Game 3 of the seven-game preseason schedule.

CAPITALS-CANADIENS PRESEASON GAME 3: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Canadiens 

Where: Videotron Centre, Quebec City, QC, Canada

When: Thursday, September, 20, 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals-Canadiens preseason game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens preseason on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

CAPITALS-CANADIENS PRESEASON TV SCHEDULE:

6:30 PM: Beyond the Scoreboard: Zach Leonsis 
7:00 PM: Capitals vs Montreal Canadiens 
9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live
10:00 PM: DC Sports Live

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    Sending Alexeyev back to his junior team is not a reflection of his play, it’s about timing

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    Sending Alexeyev back to his junior team is not a reflection of his play, it’s about timing

    The Capitals made their first roster cuts of training camp on Wednesday with the most notable name being the young defenseman Alex Alexeyev, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2018. A high draft pick getting sent back to his junior team less than a week into training camp could lead fans to jump to the conclusion that he has not performed well, but that would be incorrect. The reality is that the team has been very impressed with his performance.

    Alexeyev recorded an assist in his lone preseason performance on Tuesday. He admitted to having some nerves at the beginning of the game to NHL.com writer Tom Gulitti, but he was able to settle down after that and managed very strong [performance overall.

    “[Alexeyev] continues to show his ability to play in a number of different ways,” head coach Todd Reirden said after the game. “Just really some high skill plays in tight areas where he’s executing passes that normally guys at that size and that age probably don’t do as defensemen.”

    Roster cuts have a negative connotation for most as they think in terms of NFL cuts (or this). To see Alexeyev cut this early may make some worry that it was because he was not good enough to make the team. That’s true, but only partially.

    Alexeyev is not good enough to make the team…yet.

    With John Carlson, Michal Kempny, Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov, Christian Djoos, Madison Bowey and Brooks Orpik all returning, the Capitals’ defense is set for this season. There are also players like Jonas Siegenthaler, Lucas Johansen and Connor Hobbs all competing to show they are ready for the NHL in case of a call-up. There is just no room for Alexeyev yet, but he has shown clear future NHL potential.

    But why send him back if they see potential in him? Wouldn’t he benefit from more time practicing with NHL coaches and players?

    Yes if the coaches are focused purely on development. As training camp progresses, however, and the upcoming season draws closer and closer, Reirden and his coaching staff will focus more and more primarily on preparing for the season. That means more time working with the NHL players and less time for the young prospects.

    The best thing for a player’s development is playing. Alexeyev’s junior team, the Red Deer Rebels, played its final game of the preseason on Saturday and will begin the regular season on Friday. The time to send junior players who are not going to make the NHL roster is now so that they can go back to their teams and get game action.

    There’s a lot of excitement around Alexeyev and for good reason. His play in development camp, the rookie tournament and the preseason have, thus far, justified the faith the Caps showed in him when they drafted him in the first round. Sending him back to the WHL now is what is best for the development of a promising young player who is not ready quite yet to make the NHL.

    Said Reirden, “[Alexeyev’s] a guy that has a bright future ahead of him and continuing to learn and grow every day."

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