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Capitals Training Camp Notebook: Ovechkin Impresses, Team Experiments With Lines

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Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has stood out at training camp.

After the first day of skate tests and media, the Washington Capitals upped the intensity on Day 3. Washington took part in line rushes and 3-on-2 drills, as well as cycling in the offensive zone.

Overall, it was high-energy from the get-go, with players skating at full speed and not holding back.

Here are some of the takeaways from the second day of training camp:

Ovechkin Showcases Strong Shot, Speed

If there’s one player who stood out the most on Day 2, it was the Great 8. Ovechkin was playing at full speed and by no means holding back. Skating mainly alongside Evgeny Kuznetsov and Anthony Mantha, the 36-year-old was quick, physical and dominant.

His shot is still extremely fast and hard, and he appears to be in top form. When asked about his durability over time and how he continues to perform at such an elite level as the game changes, Ovechkin kept his cards close to the vest.

“I’m not gonna tell you my secrets man,” Ovechkin joked. “That’s my secret.”

He’s entering the season on a new five-year extension as he continues to chase down Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal record. Right now, it looks like he’s ready to score some goals yet again in 2021-22.

Capitals Experiment With Line Combinations

The Capitals’ fast-paced morning also saw potential line combinations and pairings take the ice. Nicklas Backstrom is out, meaning that Washington will have to make some adjustments and move players around.

The most dominant line was Ovechkin-Kuznetsov-Mantha by far. They were physical, quick and moved the puck well in the offensive zone, generating high-danger opportunities and getting a lot of shots on net. The trio didn’t get to play too many minutes together last season but will likely play the year together on the top line.

Michael Sgarbossa was skating between Garnet Hathway and Carl Hagelin, which could mean that Nic Dowd, who was skating alongside Aliaksei Protas and T.J. Oshie for a bit, would move up the lineup as the centers shift upward. Hagelin-Dowd-Hathaway was one of the team’s strongest combinations last season.

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“I think when you move up lines, you maybe have a possibility to play more minutes [in] different situations,” Dowd said, adding, “I think you welcome any new challenge.”

In Group B, Connor McMichael got some time skating with Tom Wilson and Daniel Sprong.

Vinnie Iorio also skated on a defensive pairing with Dmitry Orlov, and John Carlson and Alex Alexeyev played alongside each other as well, and Justin Schultz was skating with Martin Fehervary.

As Peter Laviolette said post-skate, though, it’s only Day 2, and these combinations are by no means concrete. He added that he’s using certain combos to also evaluate where players are at and who plays well alongside each other.

Hagelin, Goalies Standing Out

Hagelin isn’t holding back to open camp. He’s showing off his signature speed and is incredibly active out there. His line plays with quickness and grit, and that’s exactly what he displayed as he went hard to the front of the net.

Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek also looked sharp between the pipes.

More standouts: Hendrix Lapierre is coming off a strong rookie camp has been active and generating a lot of opportunities on the ice to open main camp. Beck Malenstyn’s showing off great skating and physicality so far, so pay attention to him as well. Matt Irwin is also showing that he shouldn’t be counted out of the race for a spot on the Capitals blue line.

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