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Backstrom: 'Buzz will be crazy' for World Cup


Backstrom: 'Buzz will be crazy' for World Cup

A year from now, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson will be trading in their Capitals training camp sweaters for a chance to compete for their countries in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, an eight-team tournament that will run from Sept. 17 through Oct. 1.

All games will be played at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, with tickets available via as early as Oct. 14.

Backstrom, who is expected to play for Team Sweden, attended Wednesday’s World Cup news conference in Toronto in place of Ovechkin, who is tending to family matters in Moscow and is expected to arrive in Washington early next week.

“It'll be such a fun tournament, too, kind of like the Olympics with all the best players, all the best teams there," Backstrom told “I think it's good that they put it here in Toronto, too. The buzz will be crazy. It's going to be awesome.”

Ovechkin, who never passes up an opportunity to represent his country, has already pushed for the NHL’s participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, saying, “I and other players will definitely come.”

Despite Ovechkin’s sentiments, many believe the NHL’s resurrection of the World Cup of Hockey, which was last played in 2004, is the first step toward a departure from the 2018 Games.  

The eight teams participating in the 2016 World Cup are broken into these two groups:

Group A

Team Canada

Team Czech Republic

Team Europe

Team USA

Group B

Team Sweden

Team Finland

Team North America

Team Russia

Team Europe will be comprised of players from countries outside of the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden. Team North America will be a selection of top players from Canada and the United States who are 23 or under as of Oct. 1, 2016.

Each roster will consist of 23 players featuring 20 skaters and three goalies. The first 16 players, including two goalies, must be named no later than March 1, 2016, which means NHL players will be spending the 2015-16 trying to be named to their national team rosters. The balance of the rosters must be announced no later than June 1, 2016.

Let's go on the assumption Ovechkin, Backstrom and Carlson are shoo-ins for Teams Russia, Sweden and USA. Who else could be representing the Caps in the tournament?

Braden Holtby's performance this season will certainly determine if he's in the mix with Carey Price and Roberto Luongo for Team Canada. T.J. Oshie's heroics in 2014 can't be ignored and he could also play his way onto Team USA, as could defenseman Brooks Orpik.

Marcus Johansson has a shot of joining Backstrom on Team Canada, while Andre Burakovsky could make a push as well. If Evgeny Kuznetsov continues where he left off last season it will be hard to keep him off Team Russia. Dmitry Orlov would need a breakout season to join him. Jakub Vrana would be a nice addition to the Czech roster, but only if he tears up the AHL as a 19-year-old rookie.

As for Team North America candidates, Tom Wilson could qualify with a big season this year.

All games will be played on NHL-sized rinks using NHL rules and officiated by NHL officials. The games will be televised on ESPN in the U.S. Here is the complete schedule:

Preliminary Round (round robin)

Saturday, Sept. 17

Team Europe vs. Team USA, 3:30 p.m.

Team Canada vs. Team Czech Republic, 8 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 18

Team Russia vs. Team Sweden, 3 p.m.

Team Finland vs. Team North America, 8 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 19

Team Czech Republic vs. Team Europe, 3 p.m.

Team North America vs. Team Russia, 8 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 20

Team Finland vs. Team Sweden, 3 p.m.

Team Canada vs. Team USA, 8 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 21

Team North America vs. Team Sweden, 3 p.m.

Team Canada vs. Team Europe, 8 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 22

Team Finland vs. Team Russia, 3 p.m.

Team Czech Republic vs. Team USA, 8 p.m.

Semifinals (single elimination; A1 vs. B2, B1 vs. A2)

Saturday, Sept. 24

Semifinal 1, TBD

Sunday, Sept. 25

Semifinal 2, TBD

Final (best-of-three)

Tuesday, Sept. 27

Final Game 1, 8 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 29

Final Game 2, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 1

Final Game 3, 7 p.m. (if necessary)

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


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.


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


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


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

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

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


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.


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.


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.