Photo: Amanda Bowen

With the final preseason game in the books for the Capitals, the team’s opening night line-up is shaping up: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Eric Fehr will be on the top line. Marcus Johansson, Andre Burakovsky, and Troy Brouwer will man the second. Jason Chimera, Brooks Laich, and Joel Ward will be on the third. The fourth line looks set, though scrappy free-agree invitee Liam O’Brien looks to have earned his way into a contract with Hershey or a two-way deal. Michael Latta, though, appears ready to play alongside Evgeny Kuznetsov and Chris Brown on the fourth line. That might change when Jay Beagle comes back from injury.

“That would be a question for Mac[Lellan],” Trotz said of O’Brien. “He’s been as good as anybody especially in that role.”

“He’s a player that demanded to be noticed,” the coach added.

19-year-old rookie Andre Burakovsky appears to have also made the team, beating top prospect Kuznetsov to center the team’s second line. At least initially.

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Photo: Amanda Bowen

For the past year, Washington Capitals season ticket reps have been pushing guaranteed Winter Classic tickets as a main selling point of full- and partial-season plans. Last night, the team has released more information on how exactly that’s going to work.

Plan holders have been offered assigned seats, which they can take or leave. They are not able to pick their own location as has been done in previous Winter Classics. Prices range from $79 to $349 per ticket, plus $19 in fees ($9 for a service and administrative fee and $10 shipping and handling).

Here is the seating chart:

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CapsLockerRoom (2 of 5)

Photos by Chris Gordon.

In the last couple days, we’ve made a lot of Barry Trotz’s new tough, tiring training camp. The outlook is part of a trend of forced seriousness as Trotz and Brian MacLellan look to turn the Caps from underachievers to a spring success story. Trotz’s psychological makeover manifested itself in the latest way Sunday, when the players stepped into the team’s new locker room at Verizon Center for the first time. In additional to new stalls, the room features a large version of the team’s secondary logo on the floor, which was roped off. “Don’t step on the logo,” members of the media were warned by a team spokesman upon entering the room.

“I think there’s a pride we should have in our organization,” Trotz said. “It’s about what’s on the front of the jersey, not what’s on the back of the jersey. What’s on the front of the jersey is very important and should be a little sacred. Plus it makes the room look great.”

“Few things are sacred now in sport and I want our logo to be something that we’re very proud of,” he concluded.

Here are some photos of the new room.

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Caps Install New Hat Trick Displays at Verizon Center (Photos)

HatTrickDisplay (2 of 4)

Photos by Chris Gordon.

This season, the Capitals are celebrating their 40th anniversary. Since they weren’t able to raise any Eastern Conference Regular Season Champion banners last year, the team decided to add a new installation outside section 111 honoring the hat tricks in franchise history. The exhibition, in a neat touch, includes displays of headwear collected after 13 hat tricks at Verizon Center since 2008. Most of those, naturally, come from Alex Ovechkin, with cameos from Nicklas Backstrom and Troy Brouwer and departed Caps Alexander Semin and Mathieu Perreault. There’s currently space for three more hat tricks. How quickly those get filled will depend on whether teams keep leaving Ovi wide open at the near circle.

Below, take a look at some photos.

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CapsTrainingCampDay2 (6 of 10)

Photo: Chris Gordon.

Day two of Capitals training camp was Saturday, and the team continued the tough pace set by Barry Trotz on Friday. Each of the three group of players spent about an hour and the half on the ice, focusing on drills designed to simulate game situations and learn the system. With the first preseason game just hours away, three groups of Caps battled along the boards for loose pucks and charged at the net. Unlike previous regimes, Trotz is throwing the players into the fire quickly.

“This is the one day we had to prepare to play tomorrow,” the coach told reporters. “We tried to get a lot of stuff in that was situational.”

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Caps Fanfest Final Scrimmage (17 of 26)

Photos by Chris Gordon.

On Saturday, the Washington Capitals held their annual Fanfest at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Hundreds of Caps fans packed into the practice rink to see Riley Barber’s Team White defeat Andre Burakovsky’s Team Red 7-4. Before the action, Ted Leonsis presented a $105,000 check to TAPS, a non-profit organization that provides comfort and care for people who are grieving the loss of a loved one who died while serving in the military. There also was the equipment sale (okay, who grabbed all of the Kuznetsov sticks?) and autograph signings with Barry Trotz and all of the prospects. New Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen also met with the media for the first time.

All in all, it was a fun day — like have you seen our Twitter pics? Below, check out my photos from the day, and in the comments let us know what your favorite moment was. (Also, please, someone give Ian one of the Kuznetsov sticks.)

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Caps Fanfest Scrimmage (7 of 8)

Photos by Chris Gordon.

Barry Trotz wants to turn Caps Development Camp into a more polished affair, with NHL players coming in as mentors and a focus on improving little aspects each player’s game. On Saturday, the team concluded the annual camp. In addition to the final scrimmage of week, the Caps also their annual fanfest in a packed Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

Though Team Red was stocked with first round picks Andre Burakovsky and Jakob Vrana, the White Team took hold of the game in the third period, scoring third goals on the route to a 7-4 win. After the game, Caps owner Ted Leonsis presented prospect Madison Bowey with the winner’s trophy, before the team held a bit of mock Stanley Cup celebration. Check out my photos below.

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Vrana (5 of 5)

Photos by Chris Gordon

At last year’s development camp, Andre Burakovsky was the resident adorable European, talking about eating “cinnamon rollers” and Tom Wilson making him peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. This year’s first-round pick, Jakub Vrana, has high expectations to live up to. He’s doing well so far.

“Okay, let’s get this out of the way: Is it Jakub or Jacob?” CSN’s Chuck Gormley asked as Varna stepped to the podium, trying to rectify the duel names Vrana is known by. “What do you prefer?”

“You can choose,” Vrana responded sheepishly. “Your choice. … Call me whatever you want.”

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Trotz

Photo: Chris Gordon

As the temperatures outside reached the 90s, Caps prospects and free agent invitees gathered inside a freezing Kettler Capitals Iceplex Monday for the first day of the team’s annual Development Camp. Afterwards, head coach Barry Trotz met the media. After focusing on the young players who will be Arlington this week, the conversation turned to the recent signings of Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen. Orpik’s 5-year, $27.5 million deal has been much maligned, as Orpik is an aging poor possession player.

Last week, new Caps GM Brian MacLellan defended Orpik’s numbers, saying he is relied upon for tough minutes and defensive zone starts. Trotz’s rationale for the signing was a little bit different than MacLellan’s, but probably just as disturbing to the Twitter intelligentsia.

“The effect is not going to be in goals and assists,” Trotz said. “It’s going to be in culture and winning and attitude.” Continue Reading

Trotz MacLellan (8 of 13)

Photo credit: Chris Gordon

On a hot late spring day a little over a month ago, Brian MacLellan met the media for the first time as general manager of the Washington Capitals. The move to hire him was surprising, with MacLellan’s only executive experience coming under his recently fired boss George McPhee. But in his first press conference, MacLellan conveyed a more analytic tone than McPhee. Capitals owner Ted Leonsis praised MacLellan as someone who would “refresh” an organization with an already strong core.

Many fans feared MacLellan would be a continuation of McPhee, accepting the status quo and perpetually insisting the Capitals could paper over their flaws. Instead, he has transformed the team in one day, spending a stunning $67.5 million.

“I think we had some needs and we addressed them,” MacLellan told reporters. “We had cap room. Ownership gave the green light to get to the cap and we spent the money where we thought we needed to spend it the most.”

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