Capitals

Hamilton, Angels finalize $125M, 5-year deal

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Hamilton, Angels finalize $125M, 5-year deal

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Feeling ``a little upset'' that Texas didn't move quickly enough to re-sign him, free-agent outfielder Josh Hamilton donned a Los Angeles Angels jersey on Saturday after finalizing a $125 million, five-year contract that he called a new chapter in his life.

``I started off with the Devil Rays and now I'm an Angel,'' said the five-time All-Star who was drafted by Tampa Bay before making his major league debut with Cincinnati in 2007.

Hamilton, the 2010 AL MVP, joins a batting order that already includes Albert Pujols and AL Rookie of the Year Mike Trout. The 31-year-old Hamilton hit a career-high 43 home runs last season and batted .285 with 128 RBIs in 148 games.

``To get a guy like Josh and combine him with Albert is going to give us building blocks for what we hope is years to come,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ``We can't wait.''

Neither can dozens of red-clad Angels fans, who lined up outside a restaurant where Hamilton was introduced. The team had a table set up for ticket sales and he signed autographs on his way inside.

Hamilton's $25 million average salary matches Philadelphia first baseman Ryan Howard for the second-highest in baseball, trailing only Alex Rodriguez's $27.5 million average with the New York Yankees.

``It was a great investment,'' said Angels owner Arte Moreno, who insisted he wasn't trying to keep up with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are on track to surpass the New York Yankees as baseball's biggest spending team in 2013.

``I think it's just great,'' he said about the Dodgers' spending spree this week that got them former Angels pitcher Zack Greinke for a $147 million, six-year deal and South Korean left-hander Ryu Hyun-jin for a $36 million, six-year contract.

``Why would I ever want to wish something bad on someone? I really liked Greinke, but you make a decision how much you're going to spend on one player. We said we're going to get a couple relievers and a pitcher. I personally can't wait to play them.''

Hamilton agreed to the deal with the Angels on Wednesday after having talked with them since the winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn.

``They like to get after it,'' he said.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels had hoped to re-sign Hamilton, who led Texas to consecutive World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011. He said he was disappointed the Rangers never got a chance to match any offer during the process, as they had expected, or be contacted before Hamilton agreed with another team.

``I gave them everything I had for five years,'' Hamilton said. ``I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little upset they didn't put the press on.''

Hamilton's wife, Katie, spoke up and compared the situation to dating.

``We were with them for five years. If you're going to date someone, you make it known and official pretty quick,'' she said. ``They let us date other teams and Josh had said he would give them first chance and they didn't (make a move).''

Hamilton interjected, saying, ``She said, `You should have put a ring on it.'''

He said he met with Daniels a week earlier and ``told him where my heart was. I was feeling like it was time for me to move on in general. There was no specific thing, like I'm upset or anything like that. It was just time to move on.''

The slugger was considered a risk by some teams because of his history of alcohol and substance abuse, which derailed his career before his surge with the Rangers over the past five seasons. Hamilton had a relapse with alcohol last January and another one in 2009.

``I have a past history of making mistakes with drugs and alcohol, drinking twice in seven years, which is not good for me,'' he said. ``They're going to help me with my support system to put things in place that I had with the Rangers. Nothing that is straining the organization or the clubhouse.''

However, Moreno said there's no special protection for the Angels in Hamilton's contract if he relapses other than what is standard in any MLB contract.

Shayne Kelley, who worked in a support role for Hamilton in Texas, will be a daily presence with the team, according to Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto.

``We've done our fair share of due diligence,'' Dipoto said.

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Alex Ovechkin's evolution as a player was on full display in Game 6

Alex Ovechkin's evolution as a player was on full display in Game 6

We all know that Alex Ovechkin is a world-class goal scorer. He is the best goal scorer of his generation and perhaps the best of all time. He tallied another two goals Monday in Game 6, but that’s not what really impressed head coach Barry Trotz.

While Ovechkin's career is full of highlight reel goals, it was the ugly plays that really caught Trotz's eye on Monday.

"[Ovechkin's] evolved in areas of his game," Trotz said after the game. "He’s not just at that dot. He’ll go to the front of the net, he’s not scared to do that. It’s just adding layers to his game."

Ovechkin's first goal of the game was not pretty. It won't make any Top 10 lists, it won't be shown throughout the U.S. and Canada. It was an ugly rebound goal...and it was beautiful.

Just four minutes after Nick Foligno tied the game, Ovechkin put the Caps back ahead with a rebound goal. He had parked himself in front of goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and was in perfect position when Bobrovsky made a kick out save to backhand the rebound into the empty net.

Those are the type of plays we did not always see from the Great 8 and it didn't stop there.

As Washington tried to close out the game, Ovechkin went all out trying to help his team preserve the lead as he blocked a shot from Ryan Murray with less than three minutes to go.

"I’m probably as proud of him right at the end of the game blocking shots and doing that type of thing," Trotz said. "That’s full commitment. When that was necessary, that’s where you get your street cred with your teammates. You’ve got to block a shot when it’s necessary and get a puck out when it’s necessary. I’d probably give him more props on that than even scoring goals because that’s what you really expect of him."

Few expected a 32-year-old Ovechkin to rebound from a 33-goal season, but he did just that with 49 goals in 2017-18 to win his seventh Rocket Richard Trophy as the league-leader. The reason why was on full display on Monday. It is because he has evolved his game. Instead of relying just on the quick rushes, pretty one-timers and incredible dekes, he has committed more to getting to the contested areas and scoring those dirty goals.

That commitment on offense seemed to translate to the defense as well as he was there blocking shots with the rest of his teammates.

"Those are the necessary things, those necessary details that allow you to win," Trotz said. "If you don’t have them, then you’re not going to win."

MORE CAPITALS: Pens again: Capitals to face Penguins in NHL Playoffs for third consecutive year

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Capitals to face Penguins in NHL Playoffs for third consecutive year

Capitals to face Penguins in NHL Playoffs for third consecutive year

The Caps are headed to the 2018 NHL Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins… again.

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before.

Yes, for the third time in three years, the Capitals will play the Penguins, hoping to take down the defending Stanley Cup champions and advance out of the second round of the playoffs and to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since the 1998 season, when the team made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Capitals are riding momentum from their first-round series win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, where they fought back from an 0-2 series hole to win the series thanks to a 6-3 victory in Game 6 Monday night in Columbus.

That momentum coupled with home-ice advantage — should they choose to capitalize on that this time around — could create an ideal atmosphere for the Caps to take a 2-0 series lead before heading to Pittsburgh for Games 3 and 4.

A perennial problem, Sidney Crosby enters this series playing some of his best playoff hockey. In their 4-2 series win over the Philadelphia Flyers, the Pens’ captain scored six goals in six games, including a hat trick in the opening matchup.

But he’s not the only one creating havoc for goalies. Center Jake Guentzel is tied with Crosby at the top of the league in goals and points in the playoffs. The pair each had six goals and seven assists against the Flyers, as well as 17 shots on goal apiece.

Is it possible they’ll get stonewalled by Braden Holtby, who — despite not starting initially in the first two games for the Caps against the Blue Jackets — is rocking a 93.6 save percentage and ranks fourth in the league with a 1.66 goals against average among goaltenders who have played more than one postseason game.

If the Caps can find a spark in their offense with Holtby staying strong in goal, perhaps this could be the year they finally slide past the Pens.

However, history isn’t exactly on Washington’s side. In the second-round series from the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, the Pens hold an 8-5 record over the Caps, eliminating them both years on their way to back-to-back Stanley Cups.

Pittsburgh leads the Caps in the overall playoff game record, 38-24, and they’ve met for 10 series in the postseason, dating back to 1990-91. Four times the series was pushed to a Game 7, but the Caps never came out on top.

The one and only time the Caps have ever eliminated the Pens from the playoffs was in the 1993-94 season, when they beat Pittsburgh 4-2 in the first round before losing to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

But hey, this year could become the second time in franchise history the Caps take down the Pens.

The NHL has yet to announce when Game 1 of the Capitals vs. Penguins series will take place, but with the Wizards playing Game 6 of their NBA Playoff series at home on Friday, the likliest start date is either Thursday, April 26 or Saturday, April 28.