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Sammi’s Daily Mix: Capitals Kicking Off 2021-22 With A Bang; Eichel, Kucherov Updates

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Capitals Alex Ovechkin, Dmitry Orlov, Martin Fehervary and Hendrix Lapierre

The Washington Capitals faced a bit of a challenge to open the 2021-22 campaign, facing off against the New York Rangers in the opener before battling the defending Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning and reigning Presidents’ Trophy-winning Colorado Avalanche. However, they managed a strong start that powered them to a 2-0-1 record and five of six points. Washington will now head out on the road for the first time to face the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday.

Looking around the league, the Seattle Kraken are not off to the easiest of starts, nor are the Chicago Blackhawks despite a strong summer of top acquisitions. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Sabres are off to a 3-0-0 start as the Jack Eichel trade talks continue.

Here are all the latest news and notes from across the NHL:

Capitals Links

  • Evgeny Kuznetsov appears to be back in top form, and the Capitals made quite the statement in their win over Colorado. Here are takeaways from the victory and what Kuznetsov, Anthony Mantha and more had to say. (Washington Hockey Now)
  • Washington added a new defenseman after their season-opening win in Dennis Cholowski, a 2016 first-rounder. Tarik El-Bashir discusses the 23-year-old’s move from Detroit to Seattle to D.C. and why the Capitals picked him up off waivers. (The Athletic)
  • In his second year with the Capitals, Justin Schultz is looking to continue building on his skillset and help Washington go further in a contract year. No. 2 opened up about his dark times with the Edmonton Oilers, regaining confidence and transition to D.C. both on and off the ice. (WHN)
  • Between the posts, Vitek Vanecek had a strong showing in both of his starts to open the year and could be making a case as the Capitals full-time starting netminder. Samantha Pell has more on his consistency and ability in net. (The Washington Post)

NHL Links

  • No Eichel, no problem; The Sabres are off to a red-hot start without their captain, but can it continue? John Vogl takes a closer look at Buffalo, who is 3-0-0 to start the season for the first time in 13 years. (The Athletic)
  • It hasn’t been an easy start for the Avalanche, and after Tuesday’s performance, but is it time to worry? Maybe — Adrian Dater breaks it all down. (Colorado Hockey Now)
  • The Evander Kane saga continues with the Sharks forward suspended 21 games for violating COVID-19 protocols after he was accused of having a fake vaccination card. Despite the off-ice trouble, San Jose is staying focused on their on-ice play, Sean Leahy writes. (Pro Hockey Talk)
  • Seattle is 1-3-1 to open their inaugural campaign and now placed Chris Driedger on the IR while activating Yanni Gourde. Brandon Gustafson explains the Kraken’s latest moves and what getting Gourde back means for the team. (710AM ESPN Seattle)

Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes

  • The prediction since Day 1 of camp has been a comeback campaign for Kuznetsov, and I stand by it. Not only does he have six points in three games, but he’s crafty and reliable in the way he’s been moving the puck.
  • Alex Ovechkin also has six points in three games, including four goals. He’s eight away from passing Brett Hull (741) for fourth all-time on the NHL’s goals list.
  • Nikita Kucherov has been placed on the LTIR after suffering a lower-body injury against the Capitals following an odd collision with Garnet Hathaway. Jon Cooper had told reporters it was not a day-to-day thing, and now he’ll have to miss at least 10 games and 24 days. It does open a lot of cap space… and the possibility for Eichel.
  • Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl both already lead the NHL with eight points each through three games. They’ve been outstanding, but two other players I’ve loved watching so far: Anze Kopitar, who leads in goals (5), and Kevin Shattenkirk, who leads in goals by defensemen (3).
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