The Best and Worst from Washington Capitals Preseason
Now, as the Caps head into the final two games on their preseason schedule, there are still a couple of big decisions awaiting George McPhee and the team's management team. But for the most part, the exhibition contests have helped many players all but lock up roster spots.
So, as we prepare for Washington's pair of remaining preseason tilts, here's a look at the best and worst moments, as well as takeaways, from the Caps' first six preseason games.
The ice in Baltimore
For the second consecutive fall preseason, the Capitals took to the ice at Baltimore Arena for the Baltimore Hockey Classic, this time facing the reigning Eastern Conference champs from Boston.
And, once again, everyone in attendance witnessed incredibly poor ice conditions, which made for some scary moments, such as Alex Ovechkin nearly having a pane of Plexiglass fall on him.
Furthermore, Baltimore-area residents didn't seem too intrigued by the possibility of seeing Ovechkin and the rest of D.C.'s talented roster in person, as Matt Vensel of The Baltimore Sun noted following the game.
The game was eventually decided in an eight-round shootout as the Bruins won, 3-2, in front of an announced 7,634, who stood for the entire shootout.
Still, the smattering of fans in the upper deck and a lack of energy in the arena for most of the game were impossible to ignore.
Given the risks associated in playing in such a run-down arena, coupled with the massive drop in attendance from the more than 11,000 that showed up for the 2011 BHC, it wouldn't be all that surprising if this was the final edition of the event.
Breakthrough in Belleville
By contrast, the team's 4-3 shootout victory in Belleville, Ontario over the "hosting" Winnipeg Jets during the Kraft Hockeyville clash seemed to be a great experience for everyone involved.
Sure, Ovechkin was once again the victim of bad fortune, as he took a high stick to the face courtesy of Winnipeg's Ben Chiarot, but the captain returned in time to help the Caps get the victory.
In this one, Mike Green ended a long shootout with a beautiful wrist shot off the crossbar, and the Caps got their preseason off to an encouraging start.
Another brief loss of Laich
Apparently, Laich's recent injury woes are unrelated to the groin problems that kept him out of the Caps' lineup for virtually all of last season, but it's troubling nonetheless.
Laich, as an assistant captain and longtime Capital, is one of the team's emotional leaders, and they need him on the ice in order to put forth their strongest roster.
The great Grabovski
One of the bright spots of the Capitals' preseason campaign was the stellar play of Mikhail Grabovski, as the recent free-agent signee has demonstrated the skill and creativity that made him a 58-point scorer two years ago.
Though he was only able to suit up for two preseason games after being held up by visa issues, Grabovski's been even better than expected; though obviously these are only exhibition games.
But with five assists in the pair of games he skated in, Grabovski looks like he should be the answer to the team's gaping hole down the middle on the second line.
As unquestionably the Capitals' most promising prospect, Tom Wilson has gotten a long look thus far, and he certainly hasn't disappointed.
Beyond the pair of goals he's tallied, the 2012 first-rounder has been the type of physical presence that has fast-tracked him to the NHL. And given how he's been able to hold his own, it seems that returning him to the OHL's Plymouth Whalers would be a mistake.
Due to the Caps' abundance of bottom-six possibilities, Wilson still may not make the team's opening night roster, but he's at least showing McPhee and Adam Oates that he's well on his way to being an impact forward with Washington very soon.
So far, all three of the Capitals' top three goaltenders have looked very solid in the net, and although there's no doubt as to who will be Washington's tandem this season (barring injury), Philipp Grubauer showed McPhee and the rest of the scouting staff that he's well on his way to being in the NHL.
Beyond him, Braden Holtby looked sharp, and Michal Neuvirth has been no slouch either, as his 34-save performance over the Predators showed he's ready to push Holtby for the No. 1 job, if given the opportunity.
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