The Washington Capitals have played in two outdoor games and it looks like a third could be in the works at a location you would not expect.
In his weekly 30 Thoughts column, Elliotte Friedman wrote the NHL is considering playing outdoor games at Army and the Naval Academy, the latter of which would likely be a home game for the Caps.
The league has something interesting brewing with some branches of the military. We’ve mentioned before the idea of playing at Army, with the Rangers as the visiting team. It sounds like they are also considering the Naval Academy, too. No one is saying what this all means right now, but I have to assume that would be a Washington game. And it’s also possible the games would be played simultaneously or at least on the same day.
Annapolis, Md. is roughly a 45-60 minute drive from Washington, D.C. so it would certainly make sense for this to be a home game for the Capitals.
Though Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Navy’s football stadium, has a capacity of only 34,000, the NHL has already showed it's not opposed to playing in smaller venues. The 2016 Heritage Classic was played at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg and that stadium actually seats slightly fewer than 34,000. The smaller capacity, however, would almost certainly mean this game would be a Stadium Series event rather than a Winter Classic.
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The Washington Capitals gave Pheonix Copley his first NHL contract and now they have given him his first NHL start too, albeit indirectly.
A former Capitals prospect, Copley was part of the package the Caps sent to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for T.J. Oshie.
He made his brief NHL debut on Feb. 27, 2016 in a relief performance. After getting recalled from the Blues' AHL affiliate on Friday, he made his first NHL start for the Blues on Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets.
And he has the Caps to thank.
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The Blues' goalie situation has been an issue all year. Jake Allen was expected to be the team's top netminder, but he has struggled all season with an .897 save percentage.
Carter Hutton is a serviceable backup, but is not good enough to carry quite the load St. Louis has needed from him this season thanks to Allen's struggles.
The sitiation finally came to a head on Thursday as Washington chased Allen twice in one game.
Allen was pulled after Washington scored twice in the first period on just three shots. He was reinserted into the game after a 2:22 break, but was pulled again after the Caps' tallied their fourth goal of the game.
The game ended in a 7-3 blowout win for Washington and highlighted that head coach Ken Hitchcock needed to do something to fix the team's goaltending woes. His solution? Copley was recalled and started in Saturday's game in Winnipeg while Allen remains in St. Louis for the team's three-game road swing.
It may have been only a matter of time before Copley got the call up with Allen struggling in net, but it's safe to say Washington's thrashing of the Blues resulted in his first NHL start.
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The Washington Capitals will look for their first win in Dallas since 2008 (8 p.m., CSN+). Here are three bold predictions for the game.
1. The Caps will score fewer than four goals
This wouldn’t be a bold prediction if it wasn’t the Caps-Stars. Washington has scored five goals or more in five straight games. Dallas’ goaltending issues are well known at this point with Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen both managing only a .902 save percentage this season. But there’s just something about the Stars and at some point, the Caps are not going to continue scoring at this rate. If the goals don’t come early against a team with weak goaltending who Washington has not beaten since 2008, it’s not hard to imagine the Caps getting frusrated.
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2. Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn will not get a point
The most overlooked part of Washington’s current streak is how well they are playing defensively. During the 12-game point streak, the Caps have held superstars like Vladimir Tarasenko, Claude Giroux and Patrick Kane all without a point. They will do the same to Seguin and Benn in Dallas.
3. Three goalies will play
I know. I predicted the Caps would get fewer than four goals and Dallas’ top two playmakers won’t get any points, so how does this add up? Stars head coach Lindy Ruff has shown he has a quick trigger finger when it comes to switching goalies since he has two backup caliber goalies. Plus, Philiipp Grubaer is expected to start over Braden Holtby. A mix Dallas’ atrocious goaltending mixed with Washington playing its backup will lead to someone getting pulled.
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