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Capitals know they're in for a long series against Rangers


Capitals know they're in for a long series against Rangers

News, notes and leftover observations as the Capitals move past their 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday and return to Kettler Capitals Iceplex today for an 11 a.m. practice in preparation for Monday night’s Game 3 at Verizon Center. The best-of-seven series is knotted at one win apiece:

Unmask the fury: In each of the first two games of the series Caps goaltender Braden Holtby has had his mask loosened because of contact with Rangers agitator Tanner Glass. On Saturday he complained to referee Dan O’Halloran that he didn’t get a whistle because of his equipment issue.

“It kept popping off,” Holtby said. “Every time they hit me in the head they seemed to hit me on that strap. I don’t want to be one of those guys in the game that [negatively] affects the game, so I want to fix it to be better.”

More from Troy: Through nine playoff games, Caps right wing Troy Brouwer has no goals on 14 shots and is a minus-3 despite averaging more than 17 minutes of ice time. He had an excellent scoring chance from the slot on a third-period power play, but was denied by Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

“Troy will break out, he’s a good pro,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “He’s going to score an important goal in this series. I feel very confident about that.”

Grade A chances: After limiting the New York Islanders to just 11 shots in Game 7 of their first-round series, the Caps have allowed 32 and 35 shots in Games 1 and 2 against the Blueshirts.

Holtby said falling behind by a pair of goals early in the game forced the Caps to open things up offensively, which left them vulnerable at the other end of the ice.

“We played into their game,” he said. “We play a game where we want to generate our goals maybe not through typical Grade A chances, but through screens and bodies at the net. If we play that way we’ll be successful and I think we got away from that a little bit.”

Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen agreed, saying that when the Caps think quickly they look fast, and when they don’t, they don’t.

“If you’re too slow moving, too slow thinking, then it’s going to be tough,” Niskanen said.

More on The Move: Alex Ovechkin’s power move through Rangers defensemen Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh midway through the third period on Saturday was a thing of brutal beauty and players from both sides marveled at the strength and agility of the Caps’ 29-year-old star.

“Dynamic stuff there,” Nislanen said. “Good move, speed, power, concentration. He gets tripped up splitting the D like that and a laser shot. Good individual effort.”

Ovechkin said his goal was “just an instinct situation.”

“It’s 3-1 and I just try to do something,” he said. “Good play by Wardo [Joel Ward] giving me the puck in full speed. I just try to make a move and make a shot.

They had one chance in the third and they use it [on Derrick Brassard’s goal]. We just have to stay focused on what we want to do and what we can do.”

Niskanen said he’s confident Ovechkin’s dominant performance on Saturday – he delivered nine hits and generated 11 attempts at the net – will continue throughout this series.

“Ovi’s been really determined,” Niskanen said. “He wants to be a difference maker and he’s playing hard and playing the right way and that’s what you need.”

Ovechkin said he’s convincved this series will be a long one. He’s just not sure how long.

“It’s going to be game by game,” he said. “The next one is going to be huge. It could go seven or six. We’re ready for that. It’s not going to be s short one.”

RELATED: [Caps 'weren't good enough' to win Game 2]

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Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

Alan May knows a thing or two about the trade deadline.

Over the course of his NHL career, May was traded five total times, four at the trade deadline. He sits down with Rob Carlin on a special edition of the Capitals Extra Podcast to tell stories from his playing days about what it was like getting traded.

This one's a can't miss for hockey fans. You can listen to the episode here on the Capitals Extra page or with the player below.

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NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?


NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?

Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.

That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).

Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.


Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!