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Prediction recap: Caps get good start, bad finish

Prediction recap: Caps get good start, bad finish

Thursday's game started well for the Caps, but it was pretty much downhill from there in a 4-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks.

Here’s a recap of the three bold predictions for the game.

1. Marcus Johansson will score - Wrong

The Caps' top forwards were all silent on Thursday with the only goals coming from Daniel Winnik and Brett Connolly.

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2. San Jose will score first - Wrong

For all the things that went wrong for Washington on Thursday, at least they didn’t have a poor start to the game. The Caps actually took the early lead thanks to Winnik’s goal about five minutes into the first period.

3. Jannik Hansen will get a point - Correct

Hansen looked right at home on San Jose’s top line with the primary assist on Joe Thornton’s goal in the first period. It was a nice pass from behind the night to find a streaking Thornton.

2017 results: San Jose is a place in which the Caps never seem to play all that well as they have not won there in regulation since 1993. My predictions also fell victim to the Sharks’ curse.

Correct: 30.5
Wrong: 49.5
Push: 3

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3 current Caps named 2017's top unrestricted free agents

3 current Caps named 2017's top unrestricted free agents

By now, you've probably heard a lot of talk about how the Capitals need to win the Stanley Cup this year because the team is going to look very different in 2017-18. The reason why is because Washington has several expiring contracts this year and some of those players will be hard to keep.

How hard? 

Luke Fox of SportsNet ranked the 17 top unrestricted free agents of 2017 and three of them made the top five. Deadline acquisition Kevin Shattenkirk is ranked No. 1 with T.J. Oshie coming in just behind him at No. 2.

"NHL teams salivate over puck-moving defencemen under the age of 30, so expect Shattenkirk to knock his next contract out of the park," writes Fox. "Think Keith Yandle's seven-year, $44.45-million pact signed with the Panthers last year."

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Shattenkirk is just 28 and is still very much in his prime. He was the biggest target at the trade deadline and will clearly cost top dollar to keep around. His expiring contract was an issue for St. Louis all season leading to his eventual trade. If the Caps hope to keep him in Washington, it may mean moving a significant piece of the roster to fit his cap hit.

As good as Shattenkirk is and as well as he may fit the modern NHL, many may still be surprised to see him ahead of Oshie. Oshie has scored a career-high 32 goals this season and clearly has developed chemistry with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, a forward pair that sometimes struggles to find a compliment.

What likely pulls Oshie to No. 2 is his age. This is the first 30-goal season of Oshie's career and it came at the age of 30. This is not a level of production you can expect from him for many more years.

The third Cap to make the list is Karl Alzner who ranks No. 5. Writes Fox, "is there room to keep the defensively responsible Alzner and the younger Dmitry Orlov (RFA again)? Oh, yeah. Now Shattenkirk is here too. ...  Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos reported in the winter that Alzner is asking for $5.5 to $6 million per season from Washington in light of the hefty Brent Burns deal."

Alzner is the best defensive player on the team, but his style does not fit the modern NHL the way Shattenkirk's does. He is not a puck-mover and, for a Caps team with a lot of other players to sign, it may be difficult to find enough money to pay Alzner his reported asking price. Whether he is worth that much to Washington going forward is a question the team will need to ask.

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3 bold predictions: Washington looks to avoid trap game in Colorado

3 bold predictions: Washington looks to avoid trap game in Colorado

The Caps will look to make it two wins in as many nights as they face the second leg of a back-to-back on Wednesday against the Colorado Avalanche. Here are three bold predictions for the game.

1. Alex Ovechkin will remain the team’s goal scoring leader

Ovechkin currently leads the team with 33, one more than T.J. Oshie. He will maintain that lead Wednesday by scoring just as many or more than Oshie. Ovechkin has scored in five straight games against the Avalanche, but since I called for him to score in my predictions for Tuesday, I wanted to do something a little different.

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2. Dmitry Orlov will take a penalty

Orlov took his first penalty in 11 games on Tuesday. He will take another on Wednesday because the Avalanche are going to come after him. Colorado has had to watch that beautiful hip check Orlov delivered to Matt Duchene all season long and Duchene was not happy about it at the time. Yes, that was all the way back in October, but head coach Jared Bednar needs something to motivate his team to keep them playing down the stretch. They will go after Orlov, he will respond and it will result in Orlov spending some time in the box.

3. Nicklas Backstrom will have a multipoint night

Backstrom quietly has 11 points in his last five games. While everyone is watching Ovechkin and Oshie, Backstrom just keeps producing. Against the worst team in the NHL, a team that has allowed 30 goals in their past six games, Backstrom will clean up.

Tuesday’s results:

1. Washington will not trail after the first period – Correct
2. Alex Ovechkin will score – Correct three times over
3. Braden Holtby will limit Minnesota to two goals or less – Wrong

2017 Results:

Correct: 39
Wrong: 67.5
Push: 3

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