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Sammi’s Daily Mix: Capitals-Devils Preview, Players To Watch, Hughes Out

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Capitals defenseman Nick Jensen and Devils center Jack Hughes

The Washington Capitals are ready for their first road game of the 2021-22 campaign against the New Jersey Devils. It’s been a solid start for the Capitals, who are 2-0-1 and have five of six points to open the campaign. Not only that, they’re getting the most out of their stars and getting a lot from their young guys.

Head coach Peter Laviolette is excited to see how his team stacks up against another division rival to open the season, especially a young one like New Jersey.

“They’re still a young, fast team. Young was the keyword but also a year older. So like anything with a year of experience they’re going to be more difficult to handle for not just for us but for all teams,” Laviolette said. “This goes back to being a division game, it’s an important game and you’re right, there were games last year where they might have had the edge on us. We maybe got them on the scoreboarD but they had the edge in what was going on on the ice. There were some games that we played well, too, but there were some games where I thought they had the better of us. so we’re gonna have to be ready for a good one. It’s a division game. you should never expect anything but a tough game.”

Here’s everything to know for Thursday’s tilt, as well as the latest news and notes from across the league:

Capitals Preview

Washington ran with the same lines at Wednesday’s practice, with the defensive pairings staying intact and Connor McMichael and Hendrix Lapierre interchanging at third-line center. The Capitals didn’t hold a morning skate, so the starting netminder is yet to be determined.

Here are the lines from practice:

Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Tom Wilson

Anthony Mantha-Lars Eller-Daniel Sprong

Conor Sheary-Connor McMichael/Hendrix Lapierre-T.J. Oshie

Carl Hagelin-Nic Dowd-Garnet Hathaway

Martin Fehervary-John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov-Nick Jensen

Trevor van Riemsdyk-Justin Schultz

Vitek Vanecek

Ilya Samsonov

Meanwhile, New Jersey will be without Jack Hughes, who suffered a dislocated left shoulder and will be re-evaluated next week.

Puck drop is at 7 p.m., with the game live on NBC Sports Washington and MSG+.

Capitals Links

  • A rejuvenated Evgeny Kuznetsov has taken the ice for Washington to open the 2021-22 campaign, and the Capitals can see the difference. Here’s more on how he has rediscovered his love for the game, his work ethic and more. (Washington Hockey Now)
  • Speaking of No. 92, one turnover that led to a shorthanded goal for the Colorado Avalanche turned into a major boost for Kuznetsov. J.J. Regan explains. (NBC Sports Washington)
  • Nick Jensen’s tally against the Colorado Avalanche provided a major boost on Tuesday. Kevin Klein and Rob Parker break down the goal and its significance. (Japers’ Rink)

NHL Links

  • Hughes’ dislocated shoulder won’t require surgery, but it does require physical therapy. Sean Leahy has more on No. 86’s injury that will hold him out indefinitely as he goes on the IR. (Pro Hockey Talk)
  • In rival news, Brian Dumoulin is serving as a mentor to John Marino, and the two are forming major chemistry. Dan Kingerski shares more on their dynamic and how it’s helping the Penguins’ blue line. (Pittsburgh Hockey Now)
  • The Boston Bruins suffered a tough defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers, and Bruce Cassidy didn’t hold back. Joe Haggerty details what Cassidy had to say about the team’s “losing hockey” effort.

Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes

  • Players to watch for tonight: Kuznetsov and Nico Hischier. Two dangerous players who are major threats on the ice.
  • If Lapierre draws in vs. New Jersey, he could face off against good friend Dawson Mercer. Like Lappy, Mercer also tallied his first NHL goal.
  • Jensen has been one of the Capitals’ best defensemen to open the season for the Capitals this season, but for me, Martin Fehervary’s been the top blueliner so far. Former Washington defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler will also face his old team at Prudential Center.

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