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Capitals, Rangers too even to call after 3 games


Capitals, Rangers too even to call after 3 games

As he sat in the penalty box for what probably seemed closer to two hours than two minutes, Capitals 21-year-old right wing Tom Wilson contemplated the boarding penalty he had just taken early in the third period against New York Rangers left wing James Sheppard and prayed the Caps’ penalty killers would do their jobs.

“To be honest, that penalty could have cost us the game,” Wilson said on Tuesday, after a tense 1-0 win over the Rangers Monday night gave the Caps a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

“We’re up 1-0 and if they score on that power play, whether it’s a bad hit or not, I can’t put our team in that situation."

The Caps killed the penalty -- they are now 21 for 22 in the post-season -- and hung on for the win thanks to a 30-save effort from goaltender Braden Holtby.

“In the playoffs it’s a really fine line," Wilson said. "You want to play hard and leave your mark on those guys, but you can’t put your team down because one power pay could potentially lose us the game or the series.”

Indeed, that’s how close these two teams are as they battle for the right to play in the Eastern Conference finals.

Each of the Rangers’ five wins and each of their three losses in these playoffs has been decided by one goal. Five of the Capitals’s six wins and two of their four losses have also been by one goal.

“There isn’t any small moments in the game of hockey,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “Every moment counts. You never know what the difference is going to be.

“It’s gonna be a last faceoff. It’s gonna be just throwing the puck to the net from a certain angle. It’s getting a puck behind a defenseman versus trying to dangle him at an inappropriate time. It’s managing a game based on the time of the game. It’s discipline when you need discipline. Every moment counts.”

On Monday night, it was getting a Jay Beagle wraparound attempt to go off the back of Henrik Lundqvist’s skate and into the net.

“My goals are never how I draw them up,” Beagle said of his first goal of these playoffs. “It’s always just grinding it out and trying to create havoc in front and good things usually happen. Last series I got robbed a couple times, so it was nice to be rewarded.”

The Caps bubble wrapped that 1-0 lead and carried into the third period, which opened with defenseman Brooks Orpik getting slammed into the boards by a hard but legal body check from Rangers left wing Rick Nash, who has taken his share of body blows from Orpik in the first three games.

No penalty was called on the play, but when Wilson rammed Sheppard into the boards seconds later, he was sent to the box for what could have been a game-changing boarding penalty. It was the third straight game Wilson spent time in the sin bin. He was also called for roughing, along with Tanner Glass, in Game 1 and charging in Game 2.

On Tuesday Trotz was asked if he thinks Wilson is being targeted by the officials.

“No,” Trotz said. “I talked to Tom about that situation. There’s no need for him to make that hit. That was a situation for support, not for contact. He’s a young player. It was a penalty, in my opinion. He’s got to learn from it. That was a teaching moment for him.”

Wilson disagreed with the penalty and said it was not in retaliation for Nash’s hit on Orpik.

“I think the ref probably thought so,” he said. “I let up on my hit. I kind of rubbed him out. I don’t think it was a bad hit, but I probably shouldn’t even be going over there to make that hit.

“[Defenseman Tim] Gleason is right there. It’s not a bad body check by any means, but Brooksie got hit pretty hard. I don’t think the ref really saw it. If Brooksie doesn’t have a visor on he might have a cut on his face.

“It wasn’t a retaliatory thing at all. It was just trying to play hard and get hits. I tried to let up and the ref thought I went and hit him in retaliation to Brooks. I have to do a better job of making sure it’s not in the numbers and clean.”

He’ll get that chance in Game 4 Wednesday night at Verizon Center.

Fehr practices: Sidelined since Game 3 of the first round with an upper body injury, Caps center Eric Fehr took part in an optional practice on Tuesday but will not play in Game 4, Trotz said.

RELATED: [Jill and Chuck: Holtby was terrific in Game 3 win]

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: How does Brooks Orpik really impact the Caps?

NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: How does Brooks Orpik really impact the Caps?

No player on the Caps gets more scrutiny than defenseman Brooks Orpik. While the analytics aren't kind when he's on the ice, we got to see what the Caps looked like without him when he was scratched against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday and...well, his loss was noticeable.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir discuss what Orpik's true impact on the Capitals really is both on and off the ice on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast. Plus, they also talk about John Carlson's monster season and Barry Trotz's new strategy for the goalies.

Listen to the latest episode in the player below or here on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Caps prospect watch: Signing season?


Caps prospect watch: Signing season?

The 2018 NCAA Hockey Tournament bracket has been announced and only one Capitals prospect, Brian Pinho, is still in the running.

Providence College was selected as the No. 2 seed in the East Regional and will play No. 3 Clarkson in the first round on Friday, March 23 on ESPNU. The winner will play the winner of Notre Dame-Michigan Tech on Saturday with a chance to advance to the Frozen Four.

The college season is over for the rest of the Capitals' college prospects which begs the question, will any of them sign an entry-level deal with Washington?

In the spring when seasons end for colleges, junior leagues and European leagues, we see a flurry of signings across the NHL as teams sign their prospects and young free agents.

Among the Caps' college prospects, the most likely candidate to sign would be Shane Gersich. Gersich just wrapped up this third season at the University of North Dakota, finishing second on the team in goals (13) and tied for third in points (29). The Capitals will certainly make a push to sign him considering his talent and because if he returns to college for a fourth year, he stands to become a free agent on Aug. 15, 2019.

Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald reported Wednesday that North Dakota was still awaiting Gersich's decision on whether he planned to return to college.

Quinnipiac defenseman Chase Priskie is in a similar situation, but it he has decided to head back to school for another season.

“That wasn’t a season I’d want to leave on,” Priskie told the New Haven Register. “When I came here as a freshman I saw our senior class, Garteig, St. Denis, Soren Jonzzon, and they left such a legacy that guys still talk about them. Same for Sam Anas and Devon Toews. They were all such great players and some of the best people for our program. When I leave, I want to be talked about like they are.”


Other prospect notes:

  • For Pinho, now a senior at Providence, this marks an opportunity for him to finish his college career the same way he began, with a national championship. “I don’t think I realized at the time how hard it is just to get back to the tournament,” Pinho told the New Haven Register. “So that’s something we older guys have been telling the younger guys. You never know when you’re going to be back and you have to make the most of it when you’re there.” (You can read the full feature on Pinho here)
  • The end of the season may suddenly be near for goalie prospect Ilya Samsonov. Metallurg Magnitogorsk finds itself down 3-1 in its series with Ak Bars in the KHL playoffs meaning their season could be over as early as Friday. Of course, the big news to watch after that is whether or not Samsonov would come to North America. If he does, he would most likely go to Hershey to play for the Bears. With only 10 games remaining on Hershey's schedule, however, the sooner Samsonov's team is ousted from the playoffs, the better. At least from a Washington perspective.
  • All three of Washington's WHL prospects have reached the WHL playoffs. Moose Jaw (Dmitriy Zaitsev) finished with the best record in the league and will play Prince Albert in the first round. Swift Current (Beck Malenstyn) finished second in the East Division behind Moose Jaw and will play Regina. Everett (Garrett Pilon) won the U.S. Division and earned the top seed in the Western Conference. They will play Seattle in the first round.
  • Dmitriy Zaitsev remains out after taking an illegal hit last week. He did not play in either of Moose Jaw's final regular season games, but was a full participant in practice on Wednesday.
  • Adam Carlson has found his groove in Kansas City. Playing for the Mavericks of the ECHL, he won each of his two starts this past week allowing only one goal on 43 shots. He was named the 2nd star of the game for both games.
  • Madison Bowey recorded an assist on Friday and two more for Hershey on Saturday for three over the weekend in his first week back with the Bears. Bowey has spent the majority of the season with the Caps, but the additions of Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek at the trade deadline meant there were just too many bodies up in Washington and not enough playing time to go around. As Bowey is waiver exempt, he became the odd-man out and was sent to the AHL. It would not be surprising to see him recalled by Washington when the NHL playoffs begin.
  • Defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler brought his goal total up to five for the season with two goals against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Monday. The Bears really wanted to emphasize his offensive game this season to see if Siegenthaler could be developed into a two-way player. His strength is definitely is on the defensive end of the ice, but he will be a more versatile player if he can also be a threat offensively as well. You can see the highlights of Siegenthaler's two-goal game here:

  • Forward Hampus Gustafsson was recalled to Hershey last week and did not wait long to make an impact. He scored his first career AHL goal on Friday. He also added an assist making that game his first career multi-point game as well.
  • Tyler Lewington was suspended two games by the AHL for a punch he delivered to Bridgeport's Scott Eansor in Friday's game.

Who are the Caps' top 10 prospects? Find out here in this week's updated rankings