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Capitals' young defensemen will have the spotlight in preseason opener in New Jersey

September 18,2017 01:17

The Washington Capitals will play their first exhibition game in New Jersey on Monday, four days after opening training camp. Coach Barry Trotz promised the first two preseason games would feature the league minimum number of veterans (eight) so that ...and more »


Travis Boyd, left, fires a shot past Lucas Johansen during the Capitals training camp. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)
The Washington Capitals will play their first exhibition game in New Jersey on Monday, four days after opening training camp. Coach Barry Trotz promised the first two preseason games would feature the league minimum number of veterans (eight) so that the team can get a good look at the prospects competing for roster spots.
“It’s the opportunity for some young guys, also for the organizational scouts, to see where those guys are, and also for the player to show them they’re having some progress, have that experience, all those things,” Trotz said. “Then, as we go along you’ll see the number of veterans will obviously increase and I really look at the last three to four games as that’s where the building has to happen in practice leading up to those games and those games actually ramping up.”
[Young defensemen soak up wisdom from Capitals veterans in training camp]
• After the Capitals traded Marcus Johansson to New Jersey this summer, the veteran forward fittingly will make his debut for the Devils in an exhibition game against the Capitals. The draft’s first overall pick, Nico Hischier will also be in New Jersey’s lineup.
• Consider this game a first audition of sorts for defensemen Christian Djoos, Tyler Lewington, Aaron Ness and Lucas Johansen. Offseason departures have left Washington with two openings on the blue line, and four of those players are considered contenders, which is why the Capitals are wasting no time getting them preseason action.
Veteran John Carlson is in need of a new partner on the second pairing this season, so whoever skates beside him in New Jersey has an opportunity to make an impression in the competition for that spot specifically. Johansen has been Carlson’s partner in the first three days of training camp, but Djoos could get a shot alongside Carlson after the 23-year-old put up 13 goals and 45 assists in the American Hockey League last season.
• Taylor Chorney has been the Capitals’ extra defenseman for the past two seasons, but in a contract year, he could make a push for a regular role in the lineup, making this training camp and first preseason game just as important for him as it is for the organization’s prospects.
“He’s been the ultimate teammate the last couple years,” goaltender Braden Holtby said. “Works as hard as anyone and when he’s in, he plays extremely well. The way it was, we had six, seven D-men and not many teams have those guys. Taylor is right there. To get to play every night and everything, I think everyone will see really what kind of D-man he is and what kind of player. Because he’s very good and very effective at what he does and guys like to play around him because he’s such a good teammate and works hard and sets the right example. He’s one of those guys that’s definitely going to take on a bigger role and show what he’s capable of.”
[A slimmer Jonas Siegenthaler takes aim at making Caps roster]
• On a paid tryout, Alex Chiasson is playing to land a contract with the team. Attending Capitals training camp was appealing to him because of the depth forward roles available, and he’s shown well early. In a sloppy scrimmage Sunday, Chiasson’s play was one of the bright spots; he assisted on a goal by center Evgeny Kuznetsov. The 26-year-old Chiasson scored 12 goals with Calgary last season, playing primarily on the Flames’ fourth line.
Some of Chiasson’s younger competition will be playing Monday night, too. Winger Nathan Walker is considered a favorite to make the opening night roster, and after he scored in Sunday’s scrimmage, he’s been rewarded with a spot in the lineup against the Devils. Chandler Stephenson, Travis Boyd, Tyler Graovac and Riley Barber also will get consideration for the open forward jobs.
• The Capitals’ goaltending tandem is set with Branden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer, but Trotz was impressed with Vitek Vanecek’s play in the scrimmage Sunday, which is likely why the 21-year-old will get to share the net with Holtby on Monday night.
• Trotz said the first training camp roster cut won’t come until the end of the week.
Read more:
Weight doesn’t feel any less for Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin entering camp
In a statement, Ovechkin acknowledges 2018 Olympic dream is dead
Forwards preview: What changes will Ovechkin make after a down season?
Washington Capitals announce training camp roster and schedule

washington capitals,capitals preseason,capitals roster,new jersey devils,preseason,defense,marcus johansson,training camp,barry trotz

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