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St. Louis, Brewer score twice in Lightning win

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St. Louis, Brewer score twice in Lightning win

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Martin St. Louis and Eric Brewer each scored two goals as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Washington Capitals 6-3 in the season opener for both teams Saturday night.

St. Louis added an assist, while Vincent Lecavalier and Cory Conacher also scored goals for the Lightning.

Joel Ward scored twice and Wojtek Wolski also had a goal for the Capitals, who lost in Adam Oates' NHL coaching debut.

St. Louis' drive from above the left circle during a 5-on-3 power play gave Tampa Bay a 4-3 advantage at 4:47 of the third. Conacher, who had an assist in first NHL game, scored his first goal to extend the lead to 5-3 with 6:36 to go. Brewer scored his second goal late in the third.

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With call-up, Caps 'reward' prospect Travis Boyd for hard work, improvement

With call-up, Caps 'reward' prospect Travis Boyd for hard work, improvement

Although it took a little longer than he had hoped, Capitals prospect Travis Boyd was thrilled to finally get his first NHL call-up on Tuesday.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Boyd said after practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “It’s a day I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

So what did Boyd, a sixth-round pick in 2011, think of the pace?

“It was intense, up tempo, really fast,” he said. “Drill-to-drill, no time off. I just kinda stayed in the back and made sure I didn’t screw anything up too bad.”

Boyd was recalled for a couple of reasons: No. 1, the Caps needed an extra forward to take to Philly just in case there’s an injury or illness at the morning skate and, No. 2, to reward him for playing well in Hershey this season.

The 23-year-old ranks second on the Bears in points with 43 (11 goals, 32 assists) in 53 games.

“We’ve had no injuries at [center] and it leaves them a little bit short [at that position],” Trotz said, explaining why Boyd was not recalled sooner. “He’s just a young man who struggled to get things rolling in the right way as a young player [and now is a] young, maturing player who’s finally getting it. He’s really having a good year.”

RELATED: Laich placed on waivers after saying he wants to play for contender

Trotz said Boyd has a high compete level and NHL-caliber hockey sense. The coach also said Boyd has worked hard to boost his consistency on the ice and preparation off it, improving in areas such as strength, conditioning and nutrition.

“It’s really come together for him and we wanted to reward him for it,” Trotz said. “He’s made the changes and got his game rolling to where we’re considering him as a player who could replace people in our organization. That’s good on him.”

Boyd acknowledged that it was tough to see some of his Hershey teammates called up ahead of him in recent months. In fact, Jakub Vrana, Chandler Stephenson, Liam O’Brien and Paul Carey have all gotten at least one game in Washington.

“It gets a little frustrating seeing other guys go up, especially when you think you’re playing well, I guess,” Boyd said. “But at the same time, they haven’t had any injuries up here. And they are the best team in the league; it’s not like they needed to change things up.”

In an attempt to make him feel comfortable, Boyd was assigned a locker stall near a couple of guys he already knows—Zach Sanford and Nate Schmidt. Boyd and Sanford, of course, were teammates in Hershey this season. Meanwhile, Boyd played with Schmidt at the University of Minnesota, where the two were also roommates on the road.

“He’s a chatterbox,” Boyd joked about rooming with Schmidt. “He’s also a snorer.”

“It’s nice knowing someone a little bit more than saying hi to them once or twice in training camp,” he continued. “That’s a couple of guys that I’m a little more comfortable with, which is nice.”

In all likelihood, Boyd will be just an observer on his first stint in the NHL. But the Caps are hopeful that he’ll continue to grow his game and eventually challenge for a spot in Washington.

“Everybody has their own path,” Trotz said. “Not everybody is on the same timeline as Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews. The rest of us mortals have different paths…It might just be a quick peek [this time]. But we’re sending him a message.”

And that message is keep grinding.

MORE CAPITALS: Caps recall Boyd prior to Wednesday's trip to Philly

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Brooks Laich placed on waivers after saying he wants to play for contender

Brooks Laich placed on waivers after saying he wants to play for contender

Brooks Laich thinks he has more to offer, but it seems the Toronto Maple Leafs disagree. Just one day after an interview in which he said he wanted to play for a contender, the Leafs have placed the former Captial on waivers.

“You don’t win a Stanley Cup playing in the American League," Laich told Joshua Kloke of The Athletic. "If the Leafs don’t have a plan for me with them then I would like to pursue a Stanley Cup somewhere else."

Well, it looks like Toronto is calling his bluff.

RELATED: Power Rankings: Bye week blues

Laich was not placed on unconditional waivers, a precursor to the team terminating his contract, he was placed on regular waivers. As he is already in the AHL, placing Laich on waivers simply exposes his contract to the rest of the league allowing other teams to claim him.

In other words, the Leafs appear to be saying, "You think you can still play for a contender? They can have you."

With an overall cap hit of $4.5 million, it seems doubtful any serious contender would claim him.

Laich, 33, was traded by the Capitals to Toronto last season. He was sent to the Leaf's AHL affiliate at the start of the 2016-17 season and that is where he has stayed. Laich has played in only 22 games for the Toronto Marlies, tallying one goal and five assists.

None of that is encouraging. Sadly, however, Laich does not seem to realize the direction his career his going.

“Listen, I’m 33. I’m not 45. I still feel incredibly young. Physically and mentally, I feel as youthful and as energetic as any kid that walks in the door. I feel like I’m younger than the 20-year-old kids. I have passion for the game. You might call me crazy, but I still feel like my best days of hockey are ahead of me.

“I’m not here just to be a mentor and be a good guy. That comes by being a teammate and having experience. But that’s not my job here. My job here is to play hockey and play as well as I can. I still feel I have many, many years left to play.”

Laich's career was derailed by a groin injury he suffered while playing overseas during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. Since then, he has never been able to play more than 66 games in a season and has never really looked the same.

The idea that his best days are still ahead of him at this point for a player that can't stay healthy, can't crack the NHL lineup of the Maple Leafs and isn't producing in the AHL is simply delusional. This is not the way we all hoped it would end for a player who was a big part of the Capitals' organization for 12 seasons.

MORE CAPITALS: Grubauer again states case as NHL's best backup