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Capitals Takeaways

Protas Shines, Lindgren Plays Full Game; Capitals Come Up Short vs. CBJ

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Washington Capitals Charlie Lindgren

After dominating in Detroit on Friday with regulars in the lineup, the Washington Capitals had their younger guys draw in once again this preseason in the second game of the back-to-back against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Although some young players stood out, while other regulars showed what they can do, a struggling power play and a late goal against led to a 2-1 loss in Columbus. It marked Washington’s first regulation defeat of the preseason, and the team is now 2-1-1.

Here are all the takeaways from the defeat:

Protas Continues To Impress For Washington Capitals

Aliaksei Protas has suited up in every preseason game so far for the Capitals, and with every game, he has looked better and better. The 6-6, 235-pound forward put on several pounds of muscle this offseason and worked on his skating, and his training has paid off as he has been one of the most impressive names so far through Washington’s camp.

RELATED: Aliaksei Protas Talks Putting On Muscle & What He’s Doing To Make The Washington Capitals

Protas scored the lone goal on a nice rebound in front, with Anthony Mantha and Erik Gustafsson nabbing the assists. The 21-year-old is using his frame to his advantage and playing with speed, and also crashing the net and making smart plays. His two-way play is also impressive, and he has looked good in the center role to boot as he won two of four draws.

He has earned his extended stay in D.C., and looking ahead, he could very well make the team given what he’s shown and the noise he’s made so far this preseason. And that doesn’t mean as just a roster player; he could be a regular.

Lindgren Gets First Full Game For Washington Capitals

There were no splits in Saturday’s tilt, as Charlie Lindgren played in his first full game of action. The 28-year-old was perfect in his first two outings of the preseason and in the second half of Friday’s tilt, he was a perfect 13-for-13. He surrendered his first two goals of the preseason against Columbus.

The first goal against came on a bang-bang play in front, as Lindgren didn’t get set in time to stop Carson Meyer in front. There wasn’t much he could do there.

Lindgren’s final goal against came off a short side blast from Yegor Chinakhov. That’s the only goal this preseason he may want to have back.

Overall, he finished the night with 18 saves on 20 shots (.900 save percentage). In three games this preseason, Lindgren has stopped 41 of 43 total shots against for a .953 SV%.

Power Play Sees Chances, But Can’t Convert Without Regulars; Penalty Kill Strong

Washington had multiple opportunities to take over the game from Columbus, but the power play couldn’t convert as the Capitals went 0-for-4 on the man advantage. At times, it appeared there were one too many passes, and the team didn’t do a good job of simply getting pucks on net. Elvis Merzlikins was also a brick wall and stopped 34 of 35 shots against (.971 SV%).

Still, Connor Brown showed what he can do on the power play and was a good net-front presence. Hendrix Lapierre and Garrett Pilon were the only forwards to log over three minutes on the PP. There were flashes of strong play for Lapierre, where he did stand out and make some sharp plays. However, it has been a silent preseason for him so far.

Gustafsson also looked good moving the puck on the power play and notched his second assist of the preseason. He is showing that he can be a valuable asset going forward and a regular top-6 d-man. It’s a good sign for him, as the blue line competition is getting interesting to watch with the young guns impressing right now.

On the bright side, the penalty kill impressed. Brown looked confident out there, and Garnet Hathaway, Nic Dowd and Beck Malenstyn all looked strong as well on the forward lines. On the backend, Gabriel Carlsson and Trevor van Riemsdyk mainly led the charge and impressed, with Matt Irwin and Gustafsson also taking on some big minutes.

Struggles For Connor McMichael?

With Protas on the rise and the second-line center role still up for grabs, Connor McMichael needs to finish training camp strong. Saturday was a tough one, as he went 1-for-7 in the circle (14 percent) and finished with two shots and a minus-1 rating through 14:13.

The 21-year-old still has time to impress. And of course, he wasn’t skating on the typical line as he was with Marcus Johansson and Pilon. However, “JoJo” is a player who could very well be on McMichael’s wing, so it remains to be seen what the two will do together.

Ice Chips:

  • Johansson led all forwards with 18:19 minutes of ice time.
  • Mantha managed an assist and continues to look strong as he looks to unlock his full potential as a top-6 forward this season. He had three shots through 17:10 minutes of ice time and did a lot to try and create some offense and he clicked well with Protas and Garnet Hathaway to boot.
  • Brown won three of four draws (75 percent). It’s a good sign for D.C. as the team needs to get better in the dot this season and have another wing they can leverage as they do with T.J. Oshie.
  • Malenstyn led all skaters with four hits.
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