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Adam Oates unplugged: Tapping into Ovi

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Adam Oates unplugged: Tapping into Ovi

With the NHL lockout delaying the start of training camp and threatening the Oct. 11 start of the regular season, Capitals coach Adam Oates took the time to sit down for an exclusive interview with CSNWashington.com Insider Chuck Gormley.In the fourth and final part of the interview, Oates shares his thoughts on Alex Ovechkin, the pressures of winning and what he sees as the future of the Capitals. To read Part One, click here. To read Part Two click here. To read Part Three click here.
CSN: Is there one attribute, in your opinion, that makes a successful coach?
Adam Oates: Theres no perfect formula. I think the hardest thing would be coaching a player who thinks hes bigger than the game and we dont have anybody like that here. At the end of the day, I want to be a communicator. I want the guys to understand this is the way were going to play, this is how you can fit into it and this is how you can succeed. Youre going to be allowed feedback to a point. And everybodys different. A guy whos a 20-year pro is different than a one-year pro.

Lets talk about Ovi. You probably heard a lot about him before coming here ...
Of course. Watched him a lot.

You said when you were hired you didnt know him that well.
No.

When he was here a few weeks ago he said he spent about three hours with you. What was that like?
It was great. We talked hockey. We talked life. I told him what I expect from him, what Im going to be for him. I think hell like the way we play and we just talked.

Was your perception of him before you talked any different than it is after spending some time with him?
No. The perception I had of him as a fan and coaching against him is also the best thing Ive always liked about him. Yeah, he likes to score goals, but he looks really happy when someone else scores. I think hes been great for the game, I really do. I think hes a very good player, a great player in this league.

Last season Ovi faced a lot of criticism. His offensive numbers 38 goals, 65 points were down; people said he wasnt enjoying the game as much. But George McPhee says he was physically dominant in that Boston series. How would you judge his game?
I think theres lots of ways to judge his game. Thats one of the things that make him special, his physical ability. Youve got to factor in systems. Mike Green and Nick Backstrom were hurt for a lot of the year, so theres some production loss right there. I also think he scored a lot of goals in a league where its tough to score right now. Can he score more? Sure. Does everybody play to their best caliber every year? No. Hes what, an eight-year pro now? I mean, nobody lights it up every single year. Can he improve? Sure.

What are ways you think he can improve?
I think everybody can improve all the time. I really dont want to talk about specific players. Our conversation was private and Im going to keep it that way.

Fair enough. Lets go back to when you retired as a player in 2004. You moved back to California Palm Springs and you still have a home there, right?The last couple years of my career I decided I was going to retire there and I built a house there. I wasnt sure what I was going to do with hockey, if anything at all at that time. Then I got the call from former Lightning head coach Rick Tocchet in 2009 to come check out Tampa and I was ready and I said sure.

What did you do during those five years after retiring?
Played golf, enjoyed life.

Did you feel anything was missing?
No. I was enjoying life, seeing family, seeing friends. I watched a lot of hockey, I was still a fan, of the playoffs especially.

Were you happy to get the call to get into coaching?I was happy, sure. Tock is a good friend of mine and I went to camp without a contract. I got the job offer, I took it and I really enjoyed it. More than I thought I would.

In what ways?
I really enjoyed trying to pass the knowledge along. I thought I could teach more in the NHL and I still think that now. I think a lot of people think you cant teach in the NHL. I disagree. Im hoping to teach Nick, Ovi, Mike Ribeiro, Troy Brouwer, Brooks Laich, Marcus Johansson. I think I can teach Mike Green something. Why not?

Is that why youve broken down so much tape of every player? I think as a coach you have to be careful about it. But Ive been watching a lot of tape of systems, individual players and mannerisms and thats how I view myself as a coach.

A lot of times thats the role of an assistant coach. Whats the biggest adjustment from going from an assistant to a head coach?
You dont have the same time, but you also have more authority.

Is there anything about this job youre not looking forward to? Dealing with the media, maybe?
No. Im not worried about that. Im not perfect, nobodys perfect. Ill make mistakes. We all do.

Does it feel different being back here or is it a lot the same?
Oh no, its very different. A hundred percent different.

How?
Were on a different side of town in Arlington. I never even came to this side of town. Even coming as a visiting coach its different. It feels different. It feels more pro, more real. More like you can win the Cup. I think the fans help that. I think the city helps that. The culture, the pressure, the

Expectations?
Yes, yes.

Do you think that is important for a team?
I think so. Theres a pressure there. I think thats healthy. Can it get crazy? Sure. I think its a good pressure. I played on two original six teams Detroit and Boston and I played in Philly and the pressure of playing in those cities is different. I think you can measure yourself based on that. Its a healthy pressure. Its like when your dad comes and watches you play, its a good pressure. You want to play in front of your dad. In original six cities its every night. Go play in the Boston Garden, its there every night. Yankees-Red Sox. Theres a reason its a rivalry. Montreal Canadiens, its almost crazy there. Toronto, crazy. I think here were still growing and its great to see, because going from Boston to here as a player in 1997 it was missing. Its been created here and it starts with Ted Leonsis.

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Game 60: Capitals vs. Lightning Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 60: Capitals vs. Lightning Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Lightning will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Lightning game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

The Capitals (34-18-7) take on the Lightning (39-17-3) Tuesday, February 20 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Washington.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME ON?

The Capitals-Lightning game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Lightning
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Lightning game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Michal Kempney, Taylor Chorney

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

The Capitals-Lightning game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

CAPITALS-LIGHTNING OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

You may think this was an ugly four-game road trip for the Caps, but with a 3-2 win in Buffalo on Monday, Washington managed to earn five out of a possible eight points.

Here is why the Caps beat the Sabres and managed to save the road swing.

A missed high-stick (maybe) from Ovechkin

Ovechkin scored the first goal of the game in the second period as he deflected a high-shot from Christian Djoos down past goalie Chad Johnson. But did the deflection come on a high stick? The play was reviewed and the goal was ultimately upheld. According to the NHL, it was determined that "video review supported the Referee's call on the ice that Alex Ovechkin's stick was at or below the height of the crossbar when he tipped the puck into the Buffalo net."

NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May broke the play down during the second intermission and made his case for why the NHL actually got the call wrong.

Was that a high stick? I don't know. As compelling an argument as May made, it still looks inconclusive which means the review made the right call. What surprises me is that the referee did not disallow the goal on the initial call.

Whether the review is truly inconclusive or flat out wrong, Washington was fortunate to walk away from this sequence with the goal.

MORE CAPITALS: BIZARRE SEQUENCE LEADS TO CAPS SCORING AND GETTING PENALIZED AT THE SAME TIME

A centimeter of ice

Hockey is a game of inches and it took less than an inch to put Washington up 2-0. When an Evgeny Kuznetsov shot hit off the boards and bounced back to the front of the net, it sparked a scrum next to goalie Chad Johnson. Eventually, John Carlson was able to get a swipe on the puck sending it trickling to the goal line, but Kyle Okposo was there waiting and appeared to kick it out to safety just before it crossed. A review triggered by the Situation Room, however, revealed that the puck had just barely managed to cross the goal line before Okposo got to it.

Here's the view the NHL released after the review:

Philipp Grubauer's third period

After dominating the first 40 minutes of the game and taking a 2-0 lead, Buffalo predictably made a late push in the third period with two goals to pull within one. Washington outshot the Sabres in the first and second periods, but Buffalo reversed that trend in a big way in the third as they outshot the Caps 17-6. Grubauer turned aside 15 of those shots and was impressive after barely being tested in the first two periods.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FROM CAPS-SABRE