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Capitals Postgame: Final Impressions; Is Darcy Kuemper Ready To Go?



Washington Capitals goaltender Darcy Kuemper (35) in action during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the New York Islanders, Wednesday, March 29, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

The preseason is officially over for the Washington Capitals, and there were a handful of notes to take away from the team’s dress rehearsal — a 4-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets — ahead of next week’s regular season opener.

Kuemper Looked Rust-Free

Darcy Kuemper started off the 2023 preseason on the worst possible foot on Tuesday, surrendering two goals in the first five minutes en route to four total.

Chalk it up to rust, sure — it was his first game action in nearly six months.

But Saturday, his second game in net this preseason, the rust was gone. Or it appeared to look that way.

Outside of a goal surrendered to Blue Jackets captain Boone Jenner in the second period, there was a night-and-day difference between the Kuemper on the ice Saturday and the one on the ice Tuesday.

Just moments before surrendering the goal to Jenner, he made a strong glove save on an open look by Jenner.

The Capitals didn’t fare well against a Blue Jackets man advantage late, surrendering the go-ahead goal to Adam Fantilli in the game’s final minutes.

Kuemper ended the night having allowed three goals but making 21 saves. After the game, he said that he felt more comfortable than he did on Tuesday — the ideal mindset to enter the regular season.

Phillips Didn’t Make Waves

Pretty consistently this preseason, Matthew Phillips has shined.

He had tallied three points in four games entering Saturday, plus he looked consistently effective when running on a line with Sonny Milano and Dylan Strome.

But on Saturday — his last chance to make a big impression — he was nowhere to be found in the box score.

People have off-nights all the time, that’s common. But Phillips, himself on the bubble of making the Capitals roster, hasn’t earned anything yet. And it troubled me that he had just an okay game Saturday.

Oshie Welcomes Fantilli To The NHL

In case you missed it, Capitals winger TJ Oshie unleashed a wicked hit on Columbus’ Adam Fantilli, the third-overall pick in June’s NHL draft.

SEE IT: Capitals’ TJ Oshie Levels No. 2 Pick Adam Fantilli

Jared Serre covers the Washington Capitals for Washington Hockey Now. He is a graduate of West Virginia University.