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Caps on playing in the Hunter era

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Caps on playing in the Hunter era

After holding the title of Capitals head coach for 169 days or 60 regular season games and 14 tightly fought playoff battles, Dale Hunter's players were surprised to hear that their bench boss would not be returning. After a meeting with Hunter, Caps general manager George McPhee announced just two days after the Caps' season ended that Hunter had decided to return to his home in London, Ontario for family reasons.

Some players, who saw their careers blossom under Hunter's reign, sounded mournful.

Mike Green:
"It's disappointing. It's sad, I think. The transformation of this hockey club stems from him and you just have to respect the guy. He came into this team, hasn't strayed away from his game plan and we all respect him as a coach and we're sad to see him go."

Brooks Laich:
"We understand his reasons for going back. I just had a short chat with him and shook his hand and asked him if there's anything I can do to convince him to stay. He was great. I was sort of shocked when I found out but he will be missed I really learned a lot from him and really valued the effort he put in.

"I was (surprised) because I thought he really enjoyed it. He's a capital through and through he loved being around the rink he loved being around the guys --you could tell. He was a hockey player. I understand his motives for leaving and I'd never question that he's got family and that's going to trump anything that we have going here."

Niklas Backstrom:
"It kind of sucks, actually. He was a great coach and he brought a system that I think really worked and we played good hockey in the playoffs and he's done so many good things for this team. Ireally wanted to see him back next year."

Jay Beagle:
"He did such a great job of changing our system and changing the way we all thought about the game. His stepping down was kind of a shock to me and I also loved him as a coach. It wasn't what I wanted to hear. I'm grateful for the opportunity he gave me and owe him a lot."

Karl Alzner:
"It surprised me a fair bit. I didn't know what to expect, I knew it was a possibility but I think it's taken a lot of guys by surprise. It's really unfortunate because he was very very very well-liked and everybody thinks that what he's taught us and how he taught us is very valuable so it's tough to see a guy like that not be back, but I mean everybody has their own reasons and there's nothing we can do about it.

"His style was something that I really liked and it was easy for me to understand...it's upsetting because i was really happy with everything."

Others respectfully spoke of the awkward growing pains --and diminished roles-- some experienced in Hunter's system. Once again, Alex Ovechkin's ice time was a major theme --and not for direct questions from the media about it.

Troy Brouwer:
"Whether or not you're happy that's how the team is playing and that's how you're going to have to play to have the team be successful.

"I thought Alex Ovechkin's minutes were being determined by the scores and how the games played out. It had nothing to do with benching him. It's just the style of coaching that dale wanted to play."

Alzner:
"He made everybody extremely accountable. It's not like he singled guys out or yelled at anybody. He did it by who played, what lines, stuff like that. He made sure that the guys who were playing extremely hard were going to get a ton of minutes. You saw guys like Beags (Jay Beagle) and Hendy (Matt Hendricks) and those guys like that get as much ice as they did. You got the exact same thing every night. So he made everybody open and really understand what his vision was so when everybody's clear on the ice, you're usually clear off the ice too."

All seemed to agree however: Hunter changed the Capitals for the better.

Green:
"I think there was a lot of grey area before on how we need to play as a hockey club, too much pressure on individuals and now we know how to play as a hockey team and that's going to help us down the road."

Laich:
"He taught us as much about leadership and team aspect, and respect amongst players and trust in teammates as he did about hockey. It's like having another veteran in the locker room. He was great. He changed the culture around here a little bit, which the rest of us really enjoyed.

"He had such a great influence. There were some things culture-wise that had to be adjusted a little bit in order for our team to succeed, I believe."

Matt Hendricks:
"I know for myself he gave me confidence. He gave me the ability to play more, the opportunity to play more, and with that I gained confidence in myself. I gained confidence in my game. As a team I think that went all the way through the line up ... I think the way that he got us to play as a group is something that we need to focus on a lot in the room ... I think as we came together we played our best hockey."

Jeff Halpern:
"I thought Dale got a lot of really good messages across with this team and did a lot of things that this team needed as far as a commitment in certain areas of the game, whether it was defensively. The word accountable was kind of beaten to death at the beginning of this year but I think he got it to the point where everyone expected a certain style of play from each other and I think that was the best imprint he made on this team.

"Dale stuck to his personality and he coached his way and I think he treated everyone pretty much the same."

Braden Holtby:
"He gave everyone a chance to figure things out on their own: to look inside yourself and figure out what you need to do in order to be successful. There's usually a lot of pressure put on to guys through coaches and to figure things out quick. I think he was very patient and that attributes to his career and his playing career."
Alzner:
"He really transformed this team into a team that works extremely hard, is very honest and one that I think other teams don't like playing against...he put this team on a very good path and hopefully we can continue down that road next year."

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Game 5 Capitals vs. Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 5 Capitals vs. Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Alex Ovechkin said the Caps would return to Washington with a tied series. The Caps captain is a man of his word as the Caps won both Game 3 and Game 4 to even up the series at two games apiece.

John Tortorella had no answers after seeing his Columbus Blue Jackets fall in Game 4, but he will have to figure things out quickly as the series shifts back to Washington for a pivotal Game 5.

The Caps return home with two straight wins and all the momentum. There's just one problem: No one seemingly can win at home.

What: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, Round 1, Game 5

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 3:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 will be broadcast on NBC.

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 on NBC Sports' live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

The Capitals take on the Blue Jackets in Game 5 on Saturday, April 21 at 3:00 p.m. ET in Washington. The series is tied 2-2.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME ON?

Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 will be broadcast on NBC. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 2:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 2:30 p.m. Tune back to NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 6:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

2:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
2:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
3:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Blue Jackets on NBC
5:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
6:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Capitals-Blue Jackets Game 5 is available to stream live here through the NBC Sports live stream page.

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Here are the Caps' projected lines:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Chandler Stephenson - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly- Lars Eller - Devante Smith-Pelly
Jakub Vrana -  Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Scratches: Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky (upper-body), Shane Gerisch, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS OPEN THREAD

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.

SEE THE CAPITALS VS. BLUE JACKETS FULL SERIES SCHEDULE HERE

CAPITALS SCHEDULE

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Now it's a series

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Now it's a series

The Caps looked to be in real trouble after blowing leads and losing in overtime in both Game 1 and Game 2.

After two straight wins, however, Washington is in control against the Columbus Blue Jackets as the series returns to Washington, D.C. for Game 5. 

On the latest eipisode of the Capitals Faceoff Podcast, JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir talk about what changed for the Capitals between Game 2 and 3, as well as resetting their series predictions.

And as always, they answer several viewer questions.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page