Unleashing Fury with Jordan Bondurant

ON DEMAND: Unleashing Fury

From the press box: Washington 3, St. Louis 2

Nicklas Backstrom
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
This is something you can look forward to throughout the 2019-20 season for games I attend. In what I'm calling "From the press box", I'll give you some reaction from the game, and some players that caught my eye.

Initial reaction from the Caps 3-2 win over St. Louis on Wednesday is, whew! It wasn't necessarily the finish we were expecting, but it was the finish we got. Nicklas Backstrom lobbed a shot from just beyond the St. Louis blue line with less than 10 seconds to play in regulation, the puck bounced a few times, and snuck between the legs of goaltender Evan Fitzpatrick and into the net. Joe Beninati's reaction on the NBC Sports Washington broadcast was about the same as mine was. It was pure surprise.

Suddenly instead of planning to settle in for five minutes of overtime for the second consecutive preseason game, fans that stuck around inside Capital One Arena were getting ready to celebrate a Washington victory. Although wins in the preseason don't amount to a hill of beans, it still was something to see and take in, especially considering the way Washington fought to tie the game late in regulation after being rewarded with a power play with 2:20 to play.

Head coach Todd Reirden said after the game when asked about whether Backstrom normally throws pucks at the net from that range randomly, that just about every shot Backstrom takes has some intentionality behind it.

And now those of you who are like me that have played EA Sports NHL games with some regularity over the years know that the frustration of goals like that happening in the game can in fact happen in real life. It's not a regular occurence, but it does happen.

So while the second preseason game has come and gone, here are a couple of guys that stood out to me:

Connor McMichael
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Connor McMichael

Connor McMichael, Washington's 1st round draft pick in 2019, looked really good in his 13:54 of ice time on Wednesday. He managed to put three shots on goal, and had one opportunity all alone on Blue goaltender Jordan Binnington where he tried to get fancy and dangle the puck between his legs as he closed in. But Binnington, who helped clinch the 2019 Stanley Cup title for the Blues, read it all the way.

But the main thing for these young players and recent draft picks that got some ice time in the first two preseason games before roster cuts on Thursday, was just getting out there and trying to show the coaches, veterans, fans, and front office what they can do. McMichael had an assist in the 4-3 overtime win over Chicago back on Sept. 16 and went 5-for-5 from the faceoff dot. He cooled off on Wednesday in the faceoff department, going 1-for-6.

McMichael impressed a lot of folks in the media in game situations and in the first few days of training camp. Washington announced Thursday that he'll be heading back to the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League on loan from the Capitals. So there will be a lot to watch out of the 18-year-old, who scored 36 goals and recorded 36 assists in 67 regular season games for the Knights a season ago.

A couple takeaways from Sept. 17 at Capitals training camp

Jordan Bondurant was on location at Capitals training camp on Tuesday, and here are a couple of takeaways from all the action on the ice:

Everything moves like clockwork

It probably shouldn't be a surprise that a professional sports team keeps to a schedule. The first group of Caps players was on the ice at 9:30 this morning at MedStar Capitals Iceplex, and the last group, the group of players that took part in Washington's 4-3 OT win over Chicago on Monday in the preseason opener, got off the ice around 2:30. Head coach Todd Reirden and his coaching staff were methodical when putting all the players through the ringer of drills. The drills were run at game speed, and there was some physicality among players. Nothing ever got heated, but Reirden has talked at the onset of camp about making his Capitals team tougher to play against in 2019-20. Physicality will be one aspect of that, and as we all know, hockey can be a brutally physical game.

But each group spent 60 minutes total on the ice Tuesday. Washington has two rinks here at the Iceplex, so when 30 minutes were through on one rink, everyone would walk next door and hop on the ice at the other rink.

Kuznetsov quitely goes about his business

Evgeny Kuznetsov
Jordan Bondurant

Center Evgeny Kuznetsov will miss the first three games of this regular season with a suspension after the Russian tested positive for cocaine following the IIHF World Hockey Championshipsthis past spring. Kuzy didn't speak to the media at media day this past week, and hasn't done any interviews since the NHL levied its suspension over the weekend. But he has been on the ice every day during camp getting his work in preparing for the new season.

Kuznetsov played in 76 games a season ago, scored 21 goals, recorded 51 assists and 72 points, a slight downtick in his numbers from the Stanley Cup year. But when Washington takes the ice at Capital One Arena on October 8 against Dallas, Kuznetsov will be in the lineup, and will start in one of the top two forward lines with either fellow countryman Alex Ovechkin and hard-hitting winger Tom Wilson, or alongside Jakub Vrana and TJ Oshie.

Next up: St. Louis

Washington welcomes the 2019 Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues to Capital One Arena for the second of three consecutive home preseason games on Sept. 18. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m., and you can watch the game on NBC Sports Washington. Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov will split time in net for the Capitals.

Photos from camp:

Braden Holtby
Jordan Bondurant

Alexander Ovechkin
Jordan Bondurant

Richard Panik
Jordan Bondurant

Alexander Ovechkin
Jordan Bondurant

TJ Oshie
Jordan Bondurant