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Caps seek replacement for Poti

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Caps seek replacement for Poti

Sudden thoughts and second thoughts as the Capitals enjoy a complete day off following a weekend split against the Bruins [4-1 loss] and Sabres [5-3 win]:

Banged up blue line: For the third time in six games the Caps had to play the majority of Sunday night’s game with just five healthy defensemen.

Defenseman Tom Poti left the game early in the second period after aggravating a back injury on a cross-check from Steve Ott.

The same thing happened on Long Island the previous weekend when John Erskine left the game in the first period with what it is believed to be a hand or wrist injury. And it happened again in Carolina on Thursday night when Tomas Kundratek injured his leg in the first period. Neither player has played since.

With Poti out, John Carlson logged a game-high 30:15 in ice time, his second-highest total of the season. Jack Hillen, playing in the second end of back-to-back games after missing nearly a year of NHL action, logged 23:03 in ice time.

“When you’re down to five D for an extended period of time those minutes are going to catch up to us,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said.

Erskine and Kundratek have not skated with the Caps since their injuries so it appears unlikely either will return to the lineup on Tuesday when the Caps visit the Penguins.

That means one of two things. The Caps will either recall another defenseman, probably Cameron Schilling, from the AHL Hershey Bears, or Green will make his return from his groin injury on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. Green has missed 12 of the last 14 games with a groin injury that was first suffered on Feb. 27.

Quick on the draw: The Capitals won their first 10 faceoffs on Sunday and finished the game winning 64 percent of their draws.

Nicklas Backstrom won 10 of his 12 faceoffs, including a clean win in the first period that resulted in Alex Ovechkin’s 11th goal of the season at the 19-second mark.

“First of all, you have to win the faceoff,” Ovechkin said. “Guys are blocking a lot of my shots lately and I got lucky.”

The goal was the fastest in Ovechkin’s NHL career. His previous fastest was 26 seconds, courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau.

Double trouble: The two second-period goals by Jason Chimera and Marcus Johansson came 43 seconds apart, the fastest vback-to-back goals scored by the Caps this season.

Chimera’s goal snapped a 27-game goal drought. He scored a career-high 20 goals last season.

“It’s more embarrassing when you see a zero next to your goal totals for that long,” Chimera said. “I’m not that kind of player. I should have a lot more.”

Floats like a butterfly: Mike Ribeiro joked that after his Saturday afternoon fight with Boston’s Brad Marchand, the first fighting major of his NHL career, he may be feared around the rest of the NHL.

“I thought they were afraid of me before that Boston game,” he said. “I was like [Floyd] Mayweather.”

Mayweather has a career record of 43-0 with eight world titles in five different weight classes. Ribeiro, who stands 6-foot and weighs 177 with soaking wet full hockey gear, is off to an 0-1 start to his fighting career. 

“I dropped the gloves a few times, but that’s when the [enforcers] come in and take over. [Marchand] kind of jumped me a little it and I had no choice but to drop them. It was fun to get a fight. He couldn’t reach me with those short arms.” 

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Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

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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?

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USA TODAY Sports

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.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

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!