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So far, so good for Kevin Shattenkirk's adjustment to the Capitals

So far, so good for Kevin Shattenkirk's adjustment to the Capitals

In 2009, Kevin Shattenkirk was in the Capitals locker room at Verizon Center as a member of the Boston Terriers playing in the Frozne Four. He holds fond memories of that time as he helped the Terriers win the tournament for a national championship.

Eight years later, Shattenkirk has another happy memory in his return to that locker room: His first home win with the Washington Capitals.

“Last time I was in here I think we were going really crazy after a win,” Shattenkirk said. “It was a heck of a day, but it's a lot of fun to just be back in here and experience that again.”

The stakes may not have been as high in Thursday’s game against the New Jersey Devils, but it was an important step for what the Capitals hope to be a championship season with their prized deadline acquisition settling into the lineup.

“Made some real good poise plays in tight areas,” Barry Trotz said after the game. “He wasn't being safe, he was actually a little more relaxed. I think it was good.”

RELATED: Caps outlast Devils to set franchise record

Shattenkirk continued what has appeared to be a rather seamless transition into the Capitals lineup, playing a team-high 21:24, including a whopping 7:23 on the power play, in his first home game as a Capital.

“I think whenever there's more minutes, especially on a power play, for a guy like me it helps me,” Shattenkirk said. “Just feeling the puck and starting to kind of get that back into my game during a game.”

When a defenseman leads the team in ice time for a game just two games after being acquired by that team, it shows a remarkable level of confidence by the coaching staff. Talking to his teammates, it’s easy to see why Trotz feels that way.

“He doesn't have any holes in his game,” Carlson said. “There's adjustments for sure that he's dealing with … but I think [it] helps feeling a part of us right away and then his skills can shine.”

“He's patient, he's a smart player,” Braden Holtby said. “He's very skilled. Obviously everyone sees the skill but he played with two different D partners he has never played with before and he looks like they've played together all year.”

Shattenkirk played alongside Brooks Orpik on the third pair in Orpik’s return from a lower-body injury. Those two are expected to remain a pair into the playoffs and they looked to be in sync together right away, though there remain a few kinks to work out.

“I think I was almost the recipient of some of his hits,” Shattenkirk said. “He flies around out there and lays his body on the line. Little things that we have to work out ourselves, little plays together. But all around, I know that I have a solid guy back there who can really cover for me whenever I need him to.”

All of this should be music to the ears of Capitals fans who have seen a parade of deadline acquisitions fizzle in the Alex Ovechkin era as they were unable to adjust to their new team.

It may be a small sample size, but two games in there seems to be no growing pains at all for a player the Caps hope will be a major key in a championship run.

That enthusiasm is shared by the fans.

In the first period of a sleepy game on Thursday that offered little to cheer about, the fans gave Shattenkirk a thunderous ovation when he was shown on the video screen during a stoppage in play.

“I've known that this fan base is great and they've supported this team for a long time,” Shattenkirk said, “But even a little thing like that, for a guy like me who hasn't been here before, it was very special and meant a lot to me.”

MORE CAPITALS: Jakub Vrana's power-play goal puts Caps up 1-0 over Devils

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NHL releases Capitals 2017-2018 regular season schedule

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NHL releases Capitals 2017-2018 regular season schedule

The Washington Capitals' 2017-2018 season includes 34 home games at Verizon Center and two, four-game homestands.

The Caps open the season in Ottawa against the Senators Thursday, Oct. 5.

The first home game of the season will be against the Montreal Canadians Saturday, Oct. 7 at the Verizon Center.

Here are some other notable dates on the schedule:

Wednesday, Oct. 11 — The Caps host defending Stanley Cup champion and rival Pittsburgh Penguins.

Friday, Nov. 10 — The Caps travel to Pittsburgh to play the Penguins

Tuesday, Nov. 14 — The Caps face the defending Western Conference champions, the Nashville Predators in Nashville.

Saturday, Nov. 18 to Friday, Nov. 24 — The Caps host a four-game homestand against Minnesota, Calgary, Ottawa and Tampa Bay respectively.

Saturday, Dec. 2 to Friday, Dec. 8 — The Caps host a four-game homestand against Columbus, San Jose, Chicago and the Rangers respectively.

Saturday, Dec. 23 — The Caps travel to Las Vegas to face the Golden Knights for the first time.

Saturday, Jan. 13 to Wednesday, Jan. 17 — BYE WEEK

Saturday, Jan. 27 to Sunday, Jan. 28 — All Star Weekend

Friday, Feb. 2 — The Caps travel to Pittsburgh to face the Penguins for the third time this season.

Sunday, Feb. 4 — The Caps host the Las Vegas Golden Knights on Super Bowl Sunday.

Saturday, Mar. 3 — The Caps host the Mape Leafs for their Stadium Series game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md.

Sunday, Apr. 1 — The Caps travel to Pittsburgh for the fourth and final time.

Thursday, Apr. 5 — The Caps host the Nashville Predators in their second to last game of the season.

Saturday, Apr. 7 — The Caps regular season ends at home against the New Jersey Devils.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FULL 2017-2018 SCHEDULE

 

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Caps re-sign Djoos, could he be a potential Schmidt replacement?

Caps re-sign Djoos, could he be a potential Schmidt replacement?

In the wake of losing Nate Schmidt to the Vegas expansion draft, the Capitals re-signed defensive prospect Christian Djoos to a two-year, $1.3 million contract with the Caps, Brian MacLellan announced Wednesday.

Re-signing Djoos, a restricted free agent, became a huge priority for Washington in the wake of the expansion draft. Djoos was expected to compete along with Madison Bowey for a spot on the NHL roster next season even before Schmidt's sudden departure. Now the team may find itself in need of both prospects to take on full-time roles next season.

RELATED: How do the Caps recover from the loss of Schmidt?

The Caps are returning Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov and John Carlson next season, all who are expected to take top-three roles. Behind them are Brooks Orpik and Taylor Chorney. That gives the team only five defensemen when most teams carry seven.

Djoos, 22, showed he could be ready for the move up to the NHL with a 58-point season in Hershey. He is a great skater and tremendously skilled, but there are questions about his size. He is 6 feet tall and weighs only 164 pounds, putting him on the small side. Does he have the skill to make up for that lack of size? That is what the Caps will be asking themselves this offseason.

One other thing to consider si the fact that Djoos is no longer waiver exempt. he could prove to be a pretty tempting prospect for any teams if the Caps try to call him up or send him to the AHL. Wherever he starts at the beginning of the season, Washington or Hershey, is likely where he will stay.

MORE CAPITALS: MacLellan says prospects 'ready to make the jump' to replace Schmidt