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Capitals Takeaways

Blueliners Step Up, Kuemper, Lindgren Shine As Capitals Top Wings

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Washington Capitals Bobby Nardella

The Washington Capitals saw several of their regulars, including Alex Ovechkin, draw in against the Detroit Red Wings on Friday, and while they made noise, it was the young guys that arguably made the biggest impact, especially on the blue line.

Ultimately, their performance, along with goals from John Carlson and Lars and strong showings in net from Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren, led to a 2-0 victory over the Red Wings.

Here are all the takeaways and everything to know from the victory as Washington advances to 2-0-1 in the preseason.

Nardella, Johansen & Iorio Lead Washington Capitals Impressive Blue Line

While Carlson, Martin Fehervary and Nick Jensen were in to complement Lucas Johansen, Vincent Iorio and Bobby Nardella respectively, the prospects didn’t need much help. In fact, it was their performance that stood out, as the Capitals were able to shut down Detroit for the majority of the night.

Nardella was perhaps the most impressive and has continued to be one of the standout defensemen for Washington through camp. He led the team in ice time with 20:02 minutes — he was the only skater to log over 20 minutes — and also spent significant time on the PK and PP. Ultimately, he was doing everything right. The 26-year-old got back in time, had good gap control and, despite only coming in at 5-9, used his frame and positioning to stop opponents in their tracks, even outworking them. Not only that, but he helped generate pressure on the forecheck and made a clean first pass out of the zone.

Johansen also had a much-needed strong game. He had an okay showing in his preseason debut on Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers, but on Friday, he stepped up big time alongside Carlson. No. 46 read the ice well, moved the puck efficiently up ice and took good care of the puck while showing off his speed and vision as he played a solid game at both ends. Most impressive, though, was his assist on Carlson’s goal, as he confidently joined the rush and made quite the pass to No. 74 to break the stalemate in the second.

Iorio also stood out. He picked up his first NHL preseason point back on Sunday with an assist off a massive slapper from the point. Partnered with Fehervary, the 6-3, 200-pound blueliner battled hard for pucks and laid the body, while also impressing with his skating and mobility as he got involved in getting the puck up ice and made smart decisions.

Overall, the defense looked impressive and limited the Red Wings zone time and pressure, never letting them tilt the ice.

Kuemper, Lindgren Perfect

Friday marked Kuemper’s first time in a Capitals jersey, and he looked good in his debut. He wasn’t too busy, but came up with a couple of nice saves, including a bang-bang play in front. No. 35 finished with nine saves on nine shots before Lindgren took over in the second period as they split the game. Lindgren also looked sharp with some strong kick-out saves while stopping all 10 shots against. He was a perfect 13-for-13 in his preseason debut on Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

If this is a preview for what’s to come, it’s a good sign as Washington will depend big time on its new tandem.

Strome, Ovechkin & Forwards Stand Out

Dylan Strome showed what he can do when he struck twice in his debut on Wednesday, and he kept the momentum going on Friday. Strome was moving his feet, showcasing his quick hands and high hockey IQ and generating pressure on that second line with Eller and Aliaksei Protas, who continues to impress. The 25-year-old was also jumping on loose pucks, winning battles and forcing turnovers and mistakes on Detroit’s end, and he led D.C. with five shots. He was on the wing on Friday as Eller got a chance to show what he can do as 2C. Still, it looks like Strome is still the frontrunner, as Eller struggled a bit and went 5-for-13 (38 percent) in the face-off dot.

Strome On Mission With Capitals, Wants Chicago To Regret Letting Him Walk

Ovechkin also looked good in his first preseason outing. He managed four shots on goal and eight total attempts. He was moving his feet, playing with speed strength and putting that booming shot to use while making some great passes and plays to boot. The 37-year-old is in great shape and has looked strong through camp, and Friday was a good sign that it’ll carry over into game action this season as he looks to move up the all-time goals list. While the PP didn’t convert, he looked good while remaining out there the full time on both units, as the second PP looked much stronger than the first and generated more chances.

Beck Malenstyn and Axel Jonsson-Fjallby also showed what they can do on the fourth line and made a little bit of noise. Malenstyn led all forwards with five hits and was a wrecking ball on the ice, even knocking off Dominic Sebrango’s helmet while playing with speed and grit. AJF also turned on the jets Friday and generated quite a few chances by crashing the net, finishing the night with four shots on goal.

More Washington Capitals Ice Chips

  • Fehervary led Washington with seven hits. He now has 16 through just two games this preseason.
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov looked strong in his first game too, moving the puck well and finishing with an assist while winning 55 percent of his draws (6-for-11).
  • Speaking of draws, Hendrix Lapierre impressed, leading all forwards with six wins on eight draws (75 percent).
  • Protas continues to shine for the Capitals in the preseason. He was getting to the front, using his frame to his advantage and generating chances. The 6-6, 235-pound forward also led Washington’s forwards in TOI with 18:27 minutes.
  • Strome and Ovechkin got time together on the 4-on-4.
  • Eller got on the board with the empty netter. Fehervary and Carlson picked up the assists.
  • Jensen was also solid, showing off some moves while leading defensemen in shots (3).
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