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Bears, Monsters begin quest for Calder Cup

Bears, Monsters begin quest for Calder Cup

Finding it hard to choose between Eric Fehr and the Pittsburgh Penguins or Joel Ward and the San Jose Sharks in the Stanley Cup Final?

Then turn your attention to Hershey, Penn., where the Capitals’ AHL affiliate Bears and the Columbus Blue Jackets’ affiliate Lake Erie Monsters will begin the Calder Cup Finals tonight at the Giant Center.

Here are some quick facts worth noting as the Bears and Monsters get ready to drop the puck:


How they got here: 

The Bears won the Atlantic Division title with a 43-21-5-7 record for 98 points. They went the distance to defeat the Portland Pirates in five games in the division semifinals and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in seven games in the division finals, before dispatching the Toronto Marlies in five games in the conference finals.

Lake Erie swept the Rockford Ice Hogs in three games in Round 1, beat the Grand Rapids Griffins in six games in Round 2 and swept the Ontario Reign in the Western Conference finals.


The Bears are loaded with young talent, including first-year AHLers Jakub Vrana, who is tied for fourth in playoff scoring with 13 points and Travis Boyd and defenseman Madison Bowey, Tyler Lewington and Christian Djoos.

The Monsters have a pair of highly touted rookies in defenseman  Zach Werenski, taken by the Blue Jackets with the No. 8 pick overall in the 2015 NHL draft, and winger Sonny Milano, taken 16th overall in 2014. Werenski is third on Lake Erie in playoff scoring with 11 points, while Milano has eight points in the post-season.

Who’s in goal: 

Justin Peters is slated to start for the Bears. He is 11-5 in the playoffs with a 1.95 goals-against average.

Lake Erie is likely to go with Anton Forsberg, who has gone 5-0 with a 1.30 GAA since replacing Joonas Korpisato in the seconds round.

Blind date: 

The Bears and Monsters did not face each other in the regular season, but Bears coach Troy Mann said his team has shown him it can play any style.

“You can't, all of a sudden, change structure and system of play,” he said. We just have to come out and dictate the pace and make adjustments.”

Historically speaking: 

Since becoming the Caps’ AHL affiliate 12 years ago the Bears have been to the Calder Cup Finals five times in 11 seasons. In its history, Hershey has won the Calder Cup 11 times since joining the league in 1938. The Cleveland Barons, the last AHL team to play in Cleveland before the Monsters, won nine AHL titles from 1936-72.

Overall the Bears are making their 23rd trip to the Calder Cup finals, while Cleveland has a participant for the 15th time (14 with the Barons, first with the Monsters). Lake Erie is 20-4 in its last 24 games (9-2 to end the regular season and 11-2 in the playoffs.

Don’t have tickets? 

The AHL is showing live streams of every game on its website.

Calder Cup Finals Schedule

Game 1: Wed., June 1 – Lake Erie at Hershey, 7 p.m.

Game 2: Fri., June 3 – Lake Erie at Hershey, 7 p.m.

Game 3: Mon., June 6 – Hershey at Lake Erie, 7 p.m.

Game 4: Sat., June 11 – Hershey at Lake Erie, 7 p.m.

*Game 5: Sun., June 12 – Hershey at Lake Erie, 6 p.m.

*Game 6: Tue., June 14 – Lake Erie at Hershey, 7 p.m.

*Game 7: Fri., June 17 – Lake Erie at Hershey, 7 p.m.

(*if necessary)

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Game 72 Capitals at Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 72 Capitals at Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pa.

When: 5:00 p.m. ET

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

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


The Capitals (41-23-7) take on the Flyers (36-25-11) Sunday, March 18 at 5:00 p.m. ET in Philadelphia.


The Capitals-Flyers 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)

4:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
4:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
5:00 p.m. — Capitals at Flyers
7:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
8:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
9:00 p.m. — Caps in 30


The Capitals-Flyers 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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Evgeny Kuznetsov considered day-to-day, will miss Sunday's game in Philadelphia

USA Today Sports

Evgeny Kuznetsov considered day-to-day, will miss Sunday's game in Philadelphia

Evgeny Kuznetsov has been declared day-to-day with an undisclosed upper body injury, the Caps announced Saturday afternoon.

He will not play Sunday against the Flyers, marking the first time in four seasons that the durable 25-year-old center will have missed a game.

Kuznetsov, the Caps’ assists leader and first line pivot over the past week, was injured in the second period of Friday’s 6-3 win over the Islanders. On the play, he slashed on the arm by New York defenseman Thomas Hickey before he tumbled awkwardly into the end boards.


Kuznetsov did not return to the contest.

The Caps did not practice on Saturday as they made their way to Philadelphia, where they'll look to extend their winning streak to five games.  

The team, per usual, did not elaborate about the extent or nature of Kuznetsov’s injury. But it does seem to be a good sign that he was not listed as week-to-week—the designation the Caps typically reserve for more severe injuries. And with a two point lead on Pittsburgh in the Metro Division standings—and a game in hand—they can actually afford to be cautious with one of their most important players.


The injury does, however, come at a time when Kuznetsov appeared to be hitting his stride. Including the two assists he had racked up prior to leaving Friday’s game, Kuzy has amassed five goals and 11 assists in 10 games.    

Without Kuznetsov on Sunday, Nicklas Backstrom, Lars Eller and Jay Beagle will be the team’s most experienced centers. Travis Boyd and/or Chandler Stephenson figure to be deployed as the fourth pivot.

Coach Barry Trotz is expected to meet with reporters prior to Sunday’s game. It’s possible he’ll shed some more light on Kuznetsov’s outlook at that time.

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