After an odd 2020-21, the Washington Capitals have returned for 2021-22 with a new dynamic. They’re finding chemistry and working as a unit, and that’s helped them to a four-game point streak to open the campaign.
Meanwhile, teams like the Buffalo Sabres, who are undefeated to start the year, are looking to keep the good times rolling. Jack Eichel, in the meantime, is ready to make his final case for his surgery.
Here are the latest news and notes from D.C. and across the NHL
- Sprong has sprung, and his speed paid off big time as the Capitals dominated in a 4-1 win over the Devils Tuesday. Here are all the takeaways from the action and more on No. 10, as well as a look at Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin’s continued hot streak. (Washington Hockey Now)
- Meanwhile, Vitek Vanecek was red-hot against New Jersey in his third start of the season and continues to prove his worth in net. Andrew Gillis takes a closer look at the 25-year-old’s hot start and his claim for the starting role in Washington. (NBC Sports Washington)
- Evgeny Kuznetsov is off to a promising start to the 2021-22 campaign and has been excellent so far. Samantha Pell has more on his play and if No. 92 can sustain it. (Washington Post)
- We also took a deeper dive in Kuznetsov’s “rekindled joy” for hockey and how he has regained confidence and channeled his former self following a busy summer of training. (WHN)
- Per sources, Eichel’s camp is meeting with the Sabres for one last attempt to convince them to allow him to have his preferred disk replacement surgery. Emily Kaplan shares the latest on the Buffalo captain. (ESPN)
- Sidney Crosby is back at practice for the Penguins, and Tristan Jarry is out of COVID-19 protocol. Dan Kingerski provides more on Pittsburgh, which is almost back at full strength. (Pittsburgh Hockey Now)
- Former Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky made his return to the District on Tuesday, which brought up both good and not-so-good memories. Peter Baugh details Burakovsky’s growth since coming to Colorado following his trade from Washington, where he hoisted his first Stanley Cup. (The Athletic)
- Rasmus Sandin is off to a great start for the Maple Leafs, and it could lead to more ice time. Scott Cullen breaks down his performance and what it means for Toronto. (Toronto Hockey Now)
Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes
- Connor McDavid had a three-point night for the Oilers in their win over the Coyotes on Thursday, pushing him to first in the league for scoring. However, Kuznetsov and Ovechkin are still tied for second with eight points, along with Anze Kopitar.
- Washington faces off against Calgary, its first Canadian opponent since 2020, on Saturday afternoon. For tomorrow, Tom Wilson, who has points in three of four games and has yet to drop the gloves this year, and Matthew Tkachuk are my players to watch.
- Vanecek’s 1.30 GAA ranks sixth in the NHL, and his .946 save percentage ranks 12th. He’s been absolutely stellar to open the year and is my pick to be the Capitals starter going forward.
- Washington has the second-least shots against per game (25.3) and is tied for third in goals-against per game (1.75). The defense has been clicking great, and Martin Fehervary is truly proving he belongs in the NHL.