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Capitals were entitled to nothing: News, notes from Game 6 loss

Capitals were entitled to nothing: News, notes from Game 6 loss

News, notes and a lot of numbers as the Capitals reflect on another second-round playoff exit following Tuesday night’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Penguins:

Entitled to nothing: The Caps became the 13th Presidents’ Trophy winner since 1985-86 to lose in the first or second round of the playoffs. The breakdown: Stanley Cup champions: 8; lost Cup Final: 3; lost Conference Final: 6; lost Conference Semifinal: 7; lost First Round: 6

Of the 26 times the Caps have been to the playoffs, they have made it past the second round just twice (1990, 1998).

Close, but no ..: The Capitals were the third team in the last 29 years to erase a three-goal deficit on the road in an elimination game, joining the 2010 Flyers, who came back to beat the Bruins in Game 7 the first round, and the 1991 Oilers, who rallied to beat the Calgary Flames in Game 7 of the first round.

Strong finishers: The Caps outscored their opponents 13-3 in third periods in the post-season and had an NHL-best plus-10 goal differential in the final period.

Trending: The Caps were 1-5 in the playoffs when their opponent scored first; 2-5 when failing to score in the first period; and 0-5 when trailing after two periods. They were outscored by the Penguins 16-15.

0 for Ovi: Among all players in NHL history Alex Ovechkin has scored the second-most regular season goals (525) without ever getting to the conference finals. Marcel Dionne (731 goals) heads that dubious list. Ovechkin (41goals, 41assists) is the 11th active NHL player to record at least 40 goals and 40 assists in the postseason. In addition, Ovechkin is the sixth player in franchise history to earn at least 40 assists in the playoffs (Dale Hunter, Scott Stevens, Calle Johansson, Mike Ridley, Nicklas Backstrom). Ovechkin ranks first in franchise playoff history in points (82), goals (41) and shots (398), tied for first in game-winning goals (6) and power-play goals (13), fifth in games played (84) and tied for fifth in assists (41).

Worth the investment: T.J. Oshie, who was acquired last summer from the St. Louis Blues for Troy Brouwer, was the Caps’ leading goal scorer in the post-season with six goals in 12 games. Before coming to Washington Oshie had five goals in his previous 30 postseason games with the Blues.

I Carly: Defenseman John Carlson tied the Capitals’ single-season playoff record for points by a defenseman with 12. Kevin Hatcher and Scott Stevens (1988) also share the record.

Mr. Elimination: With his third-period goal, right wing Justin Williams now has 14 goals in 19 career elimination games. His teams are 13-6 in those games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Williams’ average of 0.74 goals per game in elimination games is the third-best in NHL history among players who have faced elimination at least ten times, trailing Hall of Famers Maurice Richards (15 goals in 17 games, 0.88 per game) and Pavel Bure (12 goals in 15 games, 0.80 per game). Williams has recorded 84 points (33g, 51a) in 127 career playoff games.

St. Nick: With 20 goals and 42 assists, Nicklas Backstrom passed Mike Ridley (60) for third place on the franchise playoff points list. Backstrom recorded 11 points (2 goals, 9 assists) in 12 games this postseason.

Power surge: The Caps scored 13 power-play goals in 12 playoff games, ranking first in the NHL in power-play goals and fifth in power-play percentage (26 percent). Their 13 power-play goals mark their most since the 1998 playoffs when they netted 14.  

Enemy lines: The Penguins improved to 45-0-0 (regular season and playoffs) when leading after two periods.

Bonino line: Pittsburgh’s third line of Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel was their most productive with seven goals and 11 assists.

Three Rivers jinx: The Penguins are now 8-1 in nine playoff matchups against the Capitals. The Caps’ .111 win percentage is the lowest of any NHL team with a minimum of eight head-to-head playoff series.

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The human side of the NHL's trade deadline


The human side of the NHL's trade deadline

Congratulations! You just got a new job. There’s just one catch: it’s in a new city.

Oh, and by the way, you start tomorrow. Good luck.

That would be a pretty big shock for anyone, but it is the reality that hockey players constantly face and one that is exacerbated as the trade deadline approaches.

“I know fans and media get really excited about it, but they're not the ones that have to pick up and move their families,” Brooks Orpik said following Sunday’s practice. “I think players are looked at as kind of objects at times, just a number. People don't know there's a human side to trades.”

This season’s NHL trade deadline is 3 p.m. on Monday. Until then, every locker room faces a degree of uncertainty.


Almost no player or prospect is untouchable. Even if there are no rumors surrounding a team or things seem set, the threat of a trade hangs over the heads of the players like the sword of Damocles until the deadline finally comes and goes.

Even for those players who know they won’t be moved or who can’t be moved because of various clauses in their contracts, it still remains a stressful time as they could still see friends shipped to another city.

“I think what happens on that day is all the players, as soon as they get off the ice at morning skate, they're all looking at their phones and trying to see what happens,” Barry Trotz said. “They want to see what happens around the league.”

Sure, a player can go from a last place team to a contender. On the surface, they should be happy. Behind the scenes, however, midseason trades always carry family implications.

“It's tough on guys,” Orpik said. “Guys have kids in schools or have roots in the community of the teams they play for. As fun as it is for some people, I think as players it can definitely be nerve-wracking for people.”


When those trades do happen, they obviously can throw a player’s life upside-down.

For those players who are not traded, the team has to adjust both to losing familiar faces and to embracing new ones into the locker room.

“When someone comes into a new group, it's not much changed except for obviously a new piece,” Jay Beagle said. “But it's definitely harder on them so you try to make it as easy as possible on them.”

Thus far, the Capitals have added defensemen Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek over the past week. While both trades were done in exchange for draft picks, Taylor Chorney was a casualty of the trades as he was placed on waivers to make room for the new additions and was claimed by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“It's tough losing guys, especially guys that are well-liked in our room,” Orpik said. “Taylor Chorney is a really well-liked guy so I think that impacted us a little bit.”

On Monday, fans, analysts, players and coaches alike will all be frantically checking their phones looking for the latest trade news, but while the deadline brings excitement for fans, it bears very different feelings for the players involved. Those players are people working a job and those trades mean uprooting their life in a matter of days. Regardless of whether a player is better off in terms of the team situation, there is still a human cost to doing business.

“It can affect certain guys because their names are obviously spread all over the place,” Trotz said. “They're human too. They pretend to not hear it, but they do.”

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Michal Kempny already promoted to top-four at Sunday's practice


Michal Kempny already promoted to top-four at Sunday's practice

After two games, it looks like Michal Kempny is already moving up in the lineup.

At Sunday’s practice, Kempny played on the team's second defensive pairing, lining up on the left of John Carlson. Previously, the Czech defenseman had been playing on the right of Brooks Orpik. The move to the left allows him to play on his natural side as he is a left-handed shot.

Here are the pairs from Sunday’s practice:

Dmitry Orlov – Matt Niskanen
Michal Kempny – John Carlson
Brooks Orpik – Christian Djoos
Jakub Jerabek – Madison Bowey

Acquired on Monday from the Chicago Blackhawks, Kempny has played in two games for the Capitals and has received glowing reviews thus far.

“He's a really good pro, that's what sticks out,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “He takes care of himself, he works at his game off the ice and with the guys, he has fit in very well.”


“I've gotten to play a little bit with [Kempny] the last couple games,” Brooks Orpik said. “I think he's a guy that, he moves pretty well and he moves the puck pretty well and likes to keep things pretty simple. He's very consistent and predictable so he's very easy to play with.”

When the Capitals first acquired Kempny, it seemed like the best fit for him would be alongside Carlson. It’s a natural fit with Kempny being a left-shot and Carlson a righty. It also bumps down Christian Djoos to a third-pair role which is preferable to having a rookie in the top-four come the playoffs.

Should Kempny play well with Carlson, that would likely solidify Washington’s top two pairs. The Orlov-Niskanen pair was not going to be changed and Carlson was going to be on the second pair. The only question was who would ultimately play with him in the postseason?

The third pair, however, remains a work in progress.

The Caps will have to wait at least another day for the debut of their second recent acquisition as Jakub Jerabek cannot yet play due to visa issues and will miss Monday's game, reports Isabelle Khurshudyan.

Considering the issues Washington has had on defense, they would not have brought in another defenseman just to be a healthy scratch. He will get his shot to earn a spot in the lineup.

With two new defensemen in tow, obviously the team will need to experiment over the next few days and weeks to find the right combinations.

“We're going to have to probably spend at least the next 10 to 12 games doing that and then we'll have to sort of settle in,” Trotz said. “With eight defenseman, you sort of want to see which guys you’re going to play and who to play as partners and sort of a little bit of ranking. If someone goes down, who's filling that extra role?”