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End of season review: Tim Gleason

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End of season review: Tim Gleason

Throughout the coming weeks, CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2014-15 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every day in alphabetical order. Today: Tim Gleason

Position: Defense

Shoots: Left

Age: 32 [turns 33 Jan. 29]

Ht/Wt: 6-0, 217

Games: 72

Goals:1

Assists: 8

Points: 9

Penalty minutes: 55

Plus-Minus: Minus-13

Average Ice Time: 16:19

Playoff games: 14

Goals: 0

Assists: 1

Points: 1

Penalty minutes: 5

Plus-Minus: Minus-3

Average Ice Time: 13:08

Contract Status: UFA [2014-15 salary: $1.2 million]

Strengths: When the Caps acquired Gleason in exchange for pending UFA defenseman Jack Hillen and a fourth-round draft pick, they hoped they’d be getting a hard-nosed, shot-blocking  veteran who could dissuade opponents from taking runs at defense partner Mike Green. He delivered. In 17 regular season games for the Caps, Gleason had no goals, two assists and was a plus-5 while averaging 15:16 of ice time. He delivered 34 hits and blocked 20 shots in those 17 games and was a quiet leader on the ice for a team that needed a steady hand on the blue line.

Room for improvement: Gleason let Green do much of the puck carrying during his brief stay with the Caps but possesses a heavy shot that could have been utilized more than it was [10 in the regular season for the Caps and seven in the playoffs]. A veteran of 727 NHL games, Gleason’s lack of speed and quickness was exposed occasionally in the defensive zone, but his defensive positioning made up for his deficiencies.

Memorable Moment: There were two and both involved fights with Rangers tough guy Tanner Glass. The first came on April 11 when he and Glass bloodied each other in the final regular season game between the Caps and Rangers. The second came in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on May 6 when Glass caught Gleason with a hard right that bloodied Gleason’s left eye and left him with a shiner.

Quotable: After Glass gloated about his win over Gleason in Game 4 and called him a jerk, Gleason took the high road when asked to respond, saying:“I’m not going to stand here and say I won the fight. I don’t really care about if I did or didn’t. I’m not buying into it. …I could care less, really. You’re asking a guy that, I’ve been beaten up 100,000 times and I’ve won 100,000 times, so I could care less.”

2015-16 Expectations: If Mike Green goes to unrestricted free agency the Caps might consider re-signing Gleason and carrying him as a sixth or seventh defenseman next season, an insurance policy for Dmitry Orlov, who missed the entire 2014-15 NHL season with a wrist injury. Gleason said he would consider re-signing with the Caps but he likely can get a more lucrative two-year deal from another NHL team on or after July 1.

 [MORE CAPS: Fehr undergoes another surgery]

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The Caps will win Game 6 if they win, or at least survive, the first period

The Caps will win Game 6 if they win, or at least survive, the first period

The last three games have been pretty awesome if you're a Caps fan. For one minute, however, let's consider what it must feel like for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Columbus has seen a 0-2 series lead evaporate, they have lost both of their home games and now they face elimination after three straight losses including two overtime games and in two of those games, the Blue Jackets outplayed the Caps.

Oh, and head coach John Tortorella kinda, sorta guaranteed the Blue Jackets would force a Game 7.

As the series shifts back to Ohio for Game 6 on Monday, do you think the Blue Jackets may be a tad motivated when they take the ice in front of their home fans?

"We’ve got a chance in front of our home crowd to push this thing to seven games and we’re excited about it," Columbus forward Matt Calvert said Sunday. "... Got home last night and I was here a little earlier, got a chance to watch the news and they’re interviewing fans and how they’re pumped up, already saying it’s going to Game 7, so I can’t wait. The atmosphere’s going to be great. I know they’re going to give an all-out effort and so are we.”

In the third period of Game 5, the enormity of their situation began to set in for Columbus. Down 3-2 and facing their third straight loss, the Blue Jackets made a tremendous push to try to win the game. They tied the score at 3 early in the period and ultimately outshot Washington 16-1. If not for the tremendous effort of Braden Holtby in net to force overtime, the roles of this series could easily be reversed with Washington facing elimination in Game 6.

Now imagine that effort, plus the home crowd plus the desperation of a team facing elimination. An early lead for the Jackets could start a snowball effect in which their momentum and the crowd carry them through the rest of the game. But the longer the Caps can survive, the more doubt will begin to creep into Columbus, the antsier the fans will become and the more confident Washington will play.

The Caps better be ready.

The good news for Washington is that its been here before. Just last season, the Caps went to Toronto in Game 6 with an opportunity to close out the Maple Leafs. Toronto outshot Washington 14-10 in the first period, but they could not get the early goal and the game was scoreless through the first 20 minutes. Auston Matthews scored in the third period to break a scoreless tie, but Marcus Johansson scored five minutes later and then again in overtime to close out the series.

After experiencing last year's series in Toronto, the Caps know what they are going to be up against in Columbus.

"It's the toughest game to win because the other team is desperate," head coach Barry Trotz said Sunday on a conference call with the media. "Their backs are against the wall. They're there. They're going to give their absolute max effort tomorrow, and we've got to make sure that we have a max effort. If we do that, then we have a chance to win in Columbus."

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NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Power Rankings: The West is set while the Caps still have work to do

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Power Rankings: The West is set while the Caps still have work to do

There are only two series left in the first round that have yet to be decided. The Caps just so happen to be playing in one of those series.

After falling into a 0-2 hole to start, Washington has rattled off three straight wins and now sits just one away from putting away the Columbus Blue Jackets and advancing to the second round.

Should the Capitals advance, they will play the Pittsburgh Penguins for the third consecutive season.

<<NHL POWER RANKINGS: STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS>>

The Penguins ended their series against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday in Game 6. Jake Guentzel scored four goals in the effort proving once and for all that yes, goaltending is important in the playoffs. Head coach Mike Sullivan has still yet to lose a playoff series as the head coach of Pittsburgh as he led the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in each of the past two seasons.

In the Atlantic, the Tampa Bay Lightning await the winner of the Boston Bruins - Toronto Maple Leafs series after dispatching the New Jersey Devils in five games. After a strong regular season, the Maple Leafs looked poised to take the next step, but Auston Matthews has only two points in five games and Toronto faces elimination at the hands of the Bruins Monday in Game 5.

<<NHL POWER RANKINGS: STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS>>

All four series in the West, meanwhile, have already been decided. Both the Vegas Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks managed four-game sweeps in the first round and will face one another in the second  The miraculous season of the Golden Knights continues and it would be hard to argue at this point that they are not legitimate Stanly Cup contenders considering all they have accomplished in both the regular season and the playoffs.

Wins by the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets now sets up a second-round battle between the top two teams in the league from the regular season.

<<NHL POWER RANKINGS: STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS>>