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USA Today predicts fewer goals for Ovechkin and a new team for Orlov in 2017

USA Today predicts fewer goals for Ovechkin and a new team for Orlov in 2017

The end of the calendar year is rapidly approaching which means it’s time for New Year’s resolutions and 2017 predictions.

USA Today released 10 NHL predictions for the upcoming year on Monday including some interesting notes on the Caps. Will they prove prescient?

The first prediction deals with rising Winnipeg Jets star Patrik Laine and his quest to become the next Alex Ovechkin:

"Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine will outscore Alex Ovechkin this season and for the calendar year of 2017."

As the article notes, Laine currently holds a four-goal lead over Ovechkin (18-14). What it does not note, however, is that the Jets have played five more games than the Caps this season.

RELATED: 12 Days of Capitals: Day 9

Ovechkin’s goal production declines when the team’s power play is struggling. The team’s struggles with the extra man at the start of the season have been well documented. Now with the power play surging, expect Ovechkin’s goal totals to start climbing.

Laine is an unbelievable talent who has a very bright NHL future, but he is a rookie. Chances are he cannot continue scoring at his current rate over the course of 2017. The other coaches and players get paid a lot of money to find a way to keep players like Laine from scoring. His production will likely decline in 2017 as teams start to get wise to him, especially at the start of the 2017-18 season.

Ever hear of a sophomore slump?

This feels like the type of prediction experts are going to make every year until they’re proven right, much like declaring the San Antonio Spurs are past their prime or Tom Brady can’t lead the New England Patriots to the Super Bowl. Eventually, you’re going to be proven right. What we should keep track of, however, is just how many times you were proven wrong before Father Time eventually wins out.

I’m not saying Ovechkin will definitely surpass Laine in goals for either the season or the calendar year, I’m just saying it may not be as obvious a prediction as it may seem.

The second predictions dealing with the Caps had to do with defenseman Dmitry Orlov and former Cap Mathieu Perreault:

"Mathieu Perreault, Dmitry Orlov and Jonas Brodin will be among the most noteworthy Vegas Golden Knights in their inaugural season."

For those who have been trying to project who from the Caps may get snagged in the expansion draft, Orlov has always seemed a likely candidate. Teams will be able to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie.

It’s easy to see why Orlov would be a target for Vegas general manager George McPhee. McPhee drafted Orlov in 2009, he is only 25 years old and has top-four skill. Among players on the team, he will likely be near the top of McPhee’s wish list. But this prediction is also dependent on one very large factor: Karl Alzner.

What this ultimately says is that Washington will protect Alzner, Matt Niskanen and John Carlson from the expansion draft, which they will...if they can re-sign Alzner. If not, however, most likely they will protect Orlov over Nate Schmidt, Brooks Orpik and Taylor Chorney.

Ultimately, I think this will be correct. Some have floated Philipp Grubauer's name out there, but with so many teams in the NHL utilizing a two-goalie system, I believe McPhee will have his choice of plenty of netminders who have already established themselves as top starters. Orlov would be my prediction as of now.

Having said that and with all due respect to Orlov, if he is among the "most noteworthy" players on the new Vegas team, it may be a rough first few years for the Golden Knights.

MORE CAPITALS: 3 bold predictions: Playoff rematch in Philadelphia

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Congratulations to Garnet Hathaway, who finally got to hear his goal song

Congratulations to Garnet Hathaway, who finally got to hear his goal song

In Tuesday night's win over the Winnipeg Jets, Garnet Hathaway FINALLY got to hear his goal song, Haddaway's "What is Love."

Even better, Hathaway got the third goal of the game off a rebound by linemate, best friend and "Between Two Blue Lines" podcast co-host, Nic Dowd.

Even newcomer Ilya Kovalchuk got into the "Night at the Roxbury" head-bobbing bop.

Prior to game time, Hathaway spoke with Dowd about his choice of goal song on "Level With Me."

"I just thought it would be fun," Hathaway said to Dowd. "It's a great movie, first of all. Haddaway, Hathaway, I thought, had a little connection."

Hathaway said when he finally scores, he knew the head bob would be automatic.

"When it happens, when they hear it, the fans will also know what to do, to bob their head."

Here's to hoping for more head bops at Capital One Arena!

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Chasing Greatness: How to watch, time, channel, live stream

Chasing Greatness: How to watch, time, channel, live stream

The celebration of Alex Ovechkin's 700th career goal lives on.

Following the Capitals clash with the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday (coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington), you won't want to change the channel. NBC Sports Washington is airing a special feature, "Chasing Greatness," recapping the great career of Ovechkin thus far.

NBC Sports Washington's Craig Laughlin, who has been covering the Capitals for nearly 30 years, sits down with Ovechkin to discuss his career from his debut in 2005 to his 700th goal this past Saturday.

Later on in the special, Ovechkin's teammates Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom join Ovechkin and NBC Sports Washington's Joe Beninati to break down film on some of Ovechkin's best goals of his career. 

The special is set to air at 11 p.m. ET following Caps Postgame Live. Here's everything you need to know.

Chasing Greatness: How to watch

What: Chasing Greatness, a special on the career of Alex Ovechkin

When: Thursday, Feb. 27

Channel: NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder Link)

Time: 11 p.m. ET (conclusion of Caps Postgame Live)

Live Stream: You can stream Chasing Greatness at NBCSportsWashington.com's live stream page and in the MyTeams App.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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