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Boudreau wants the Caps to do well...unless they meet the Wild in the final

Boudreau wants the Caps to do well...unless they meet the Wild in the final

LOS ANGELES—Bruce Boudreau lives and coaches 1,000 miles from Verizon Center these days, but he readily admitted on Saturday that he still keeps a very close eye on the Capitals.

Why?

A couple of reasons. For one, Washington holds a special place in his heart because it was his first stop as an NHL head coach. And second, he currently coaches the Wild, who sit just behind the NHL-leading Caps in the league standings.  

“[The Caps] are the best team in the league,” Boudreau told CSN at All-Star media day. “I’m sure Barry [Trotz] doesn’t want me to say that. They’ve been like that and they’ve had that stigma put on them for as many as seven or eight years. But when you watch them play, except for a couple of hiccups, they blow teams out of the water.”

“The one thing you notice about [the Caps] is, any other team you play except maybe for Pittsburgh, you can make mistakes and sometimes get away with it,” Boudreau continued. “Against the Caps, you make a mistake and you’re paying for it. They've got a lot of great players and that’s what happens with great players—they do great things.”

One of those great players is Alex Ovechkin, who was named one of the NHL’s greatest 100 players on Friday night. Boudreau attended the ceremony and beamed with pride when Ovi’s name was announced.

“I was very proud,” Boudreau said. “I got to coach him for over four years. It’s a great thing to tell your grandchildren and children, that you’ve been able to coach one of the greatest players of all time. And I’m sure when it’s all said and done, he’s going to be in the top-5 greatest players of all time. He’s in that conversation.”

He added, “I was lucky.”

Luck, however, has nothing to do with where the Caps and Wild find themselves at the all-star break. Both teams have rattled off long winning streaks. Washington ranks first in goal differential (+54) and Minnesota is second (+51). The teams are also 1-2 in the NHL standings, with the Caps up by three points on the Wild.

Washington and Minnesota play twice in the span of 11 days in March.

MORE CAPS: Ovechkins ready to 'chill' in Los Angeles

A lot could change between now and then, but as things stand today, Boudreau believes both have a good chance of making a deep run this spring.

Asked if he’s ever daydreamed about facing the Caps in the Stanley Cup final, the 62-year-old coach nodded.

“I do,” said Boudreau, who spent four plus season in Anaheim before being hired in Minnesota. “But I’ve done that for a few years and it hasn’t worked.”

Boudreau also acknowledged how weird a Bruce vs. the Caps final would be.

“On the other hand, I don’t want to play them,” he said. “I think it would be too difficult because I want them to win and I want us to win.”

“Some of the guys on that team that I’ve made great friends with that are still there, I want them to have success,” he added. “But I wouldn’t want them to have success against me. It’s a real double-edged sword. But I think both teams right now have got a shot. Those guys look like, okay, they were the favorite last year and they lost and they’re playing like that’s never going to happen again. And we’re the young upstart team that’s never been in that situation. We’ll go as far as we go, and hopefully in May or June, one of us has a lot great success.”

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John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference

John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference

In each of the first three games of the series, the Columbus Blue Jackets always had an answer for the Washington Capitals.

The Caps built a two-goal lead in each game and Columbus was able to battle back and tie it each time.

In Game 4 on Thursday, however. the Blue Jackets had no answer in a 4-1 loss to Washington and that includes head coach John Tortorella.

"We weren't good," Tortorella said to the media after the game. "There's no sense asking me things about the game. I'm telling you, we laid an egg. I'm not going to break it down for you. We sucked. We sucked."

Tortorella is known for having some fiery interactions with the media. By his standard, Thursday's postgame presser was fairly tame.

The Capitals may have won Game 3, but Columbus certainly looked like the better team for most of the night. That was not the case in Game 4 as Washington dominated from start to finish. That led to the contentious postgame presser.

"We laid an egg," Tortorella said. "That's all I have to say, guys. I'm sorry, I'm not going to break it down for you. Nothing went well for us. It's on us, we have to figure it out and we will."

Reporters continued to press the head coach until he finally walked out.

Before you laugh too hard at this, it is important to consider that this may be a calculated move by Tortorella.

Sure, there have been times in which he has lost his temper in the past, but these outbursts may be more premeditated than we think.

Consider this. After their worst game of the series, a game in which the Blue Jackets only scored once and saw a 2-0 series lead evaporate in two games at home, we're talking about the head coach. We're not talking about the loss or the performance of the players. Instead, we are talking about Tortorella walking out on reporters.

Even if Tortorella was not willing to give any answers on Thursday, he will need to find some soon. The series now shifts back to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday with all the momentum on the Caps' side.

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4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

The Caps put together their best performance of the series Thursday in a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 4 of their 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series.

The win pulled Washington even with Columbus in the series 2-2.

Here's how the Caps got the big win.

4 Reasons why the Capitals beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

1. Tom Wilson factors in the offense

Wilson’s hands are good for more than just punching.

He proved that again on Thursday as he scored the first goal for the second consecutive game. Chandler Stephenson and John Carlson provided the pressure on Sergei Bobrovsky. With Bobrovsky scrambling in the crease, Evgeny Kuznetsov passed the puck back to Wilson who fired the one-timer past the Columbus netminder.

In the first two games of the series, Wilson had no points and no shots. In the last two games, he has two goals and 13 shots on goal.

2. A great keep-in by John Carlson

We saw how dangerous it was when penalty killers fail to clear the puck in Game 1 when the Caps failed to clear in the third period leading to the game-tying power play goal.

In Game 4, the roles were reversed. Trying to kill off an Artemi Panarin penalty, Cam Atkinson attempted to clear the puck with the backhand. Carlson skillfully corralled the puck out of the air at the blue line to keep it in the zone.

The power play was able to reset and T.J. Oshie scored the rebound goal soon after.

3. Braden Holtby closes the door to finish the second period

After the Caps took the 2-0 lead, the Blue Jackets made a late push to try to pull one back.

In the last 10 minutes of the second period, Columbus had 13 shot attempts, five of which were not net. Several of those shots were high-quality opportunities, but Holtby came up with the big saves that the team was not getting earlier in the series.

His play ensured the Caps took the 2-0 lead to the locker room.

4. Alex Ovechkin extends the lead to three

Washington entered the third period up 2-0. In each of the first three games, the Caps held a two-goal lead and allowed the Blue Jackets to battle back and tie the score. Even with a two-goal lead, it still felt at the start of the third that the next goal would decide the game. If Columbus pulled within one and got the crowd back on their side, we have seen what that momentum can do for them.

This time, however, Ovechkin struck first. After a board battle behind the net, the puck trickled out to the faceoff circle. Ovechkin grabbed it and quickly snapped the puck past Bobrovsky before anyone could react.

The goal gave Washington their first three-goal lead of the series and shut the Blue Jackets’ comeback down before it could begin.

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