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With Green gone, who will find Ovi's sweet spot?


With Green gone, who will find Ovi's sweet spot?

For the better part of 10 years, Mike Green and Alex Ovechkin formed one of the most dynamic power-play duos in the NHL, with Green deftly feeding pucks into Ovechkin’s powerful wheelhouse for blinding one-timers.

With Green now in Detroit running the Red Wings’ power play, John Carlson and Matt Niskanen will be asked to hands that feed Ovechkin.

“They were really good at it,” said Niskanen, whose power play minutes went from 242 in Pittsburgh in 2013-14 to just 87 with the Capitals last season. “They played together a long time and had that chemistry. That’s something that developed.

“Obviously, having a lot of skill helps. Hopefully, with some more reps I can get better at that skill, feeding Ovi in the sweet spot. There are other aspects of the power play that I’ll get to a higher level sooner, but I’ll take the reps as they come and try to get better at it.”

Green led all Caps defensemen in power-play time last season with 198 minutes. Carlson was right behind him with 142 minutes and the two helped the Caps finish with the NHL’s No. 1 power play at 25.3 percent. Ovechkin also finished with a league-high 25 power-play goals.

RELATED: MacLellan may not be done tinkering with Caps

Carlson split time last season between the No. 1 and No. 2 power-play units and said with the additions of T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams the Caps should have more options than just Ovechkin blasting away from the left faceoff circle.

“I know that situation (with Green and Ovechkin) was great, but I’ve got to go out there and make  sure I’m doing whatever I can. We have a lot of great shooters and great puck movers so I don’t take anything for granted.”

Carlson said that while Green and Ovechkin shared a special chemistry, there is more to setting up Ovechkin than simply getting the puck on his stick.

“You can’t just look at him and pass it to him and he’s going to score every time,” Carlson said. “There’s other stuff that goes on that dictates the play. Where do I get the puck from? Where is their forward? Is he on him? Is he shading toward me? Is he in my shot lane?

“At the end of the day, you let your mind react. You need to know the good times to pass it to him, the times to fake. In some situations you need to get it over there as quickly as possible. Sometimes he’s thinking he’s going down (low to the net), but their defender could be coming up and he picks it off and I’m in no man’s land.

“We can talk about it all we want, but it’s about reading and reacting.”

Since 17 of Green’s 45 points last season came on the man-advantage,  there will also be even-strength points that need to be picked up on the Caps’ blue line.

Niskanen, who saw his point totals drop from 46 with the Penguins to 31 with the Caps, said he’ll put a little pressure on himself to produce more offense this season.

“Greener had a really good year last year,” Niskanen said. “He produced a lot and he played a lot on that first power play for the majority of the year. That’s something as a group we’re going to have to pick up that slack. I don’t think me or John Carlson are going to get (his 45) points. But as a group, getting more involved in the offense, I think you should see some of our numbers go up.”

MORE CAPITALS: Oshie flashes offensive brilliance in Caps win

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Being an Olympic hero is not all T.J. Oshie has in common with 2018 U.S. Women's hockey team

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Being an Olympic hero is not all T.J. Oshie has in common with 2018 U.S. Women's hockey team

Four years ago, Capitals forward T.J. Oshie was the shootout king in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. This time around Gigi Marvin was one of the Americans who provided the extra-time heroics for Team USA at Pyeongchang, carrying the women’s hockey team to the gold medal.

Ironically enough, they both were the King and Queen of their high school’s dance back in 2005.

Marvin and Oshie both went to Warroad High School in Minnesota. They graduated from the same class in 2005. Nearly every high school in the country would wish for just one Olympian, this one got two legends in one class.

Oshie famously took the puck six times for Team USA in a shootout to beat Russia back in 2014. Marvin scored the first tally of the shootout in the gold medal game against Canada. The United States would go on to win the match in seven rounds.

Oshie would go on to congratulate his fellow Warroad alum after the match.

Whoever cast the deciding votes, must have known that these two destined for glory. One could now call them the King and Queen of Olympic shootouts.


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Caps prospect watch: Boyd dedicates 4-goal performance to daughter after week in the hospital


Caps prospect watch: Boyd dedicates 4-goal performance to daughter after week in the hospital

It would have been understandable if Travis Boyd struggled this past week. Something more important was on his mind.

Boyd spent the week in the hospital with his daughter, Hayden, who had been experiencing pain in her throat. He spent the enitre week in the hospital, not leaving until Hershey's game against Laval.

Boyd turned this trial into something incredible as he scored four goals Friday in Hershey's 6-3 win.

Boyd spoke about the ordeal with Zach Fisch of the Bears Radio Network (transcription via RMNB).

“It actually started after the game last Sunday against Rochester," he said. "I went straight from the rink to Urgent Care and then from Urgent Care to the ER. Never left the hospital until Friday morning. We had a successful surgery on Thursday night. Basically just a bad infection in her throat that had to be surgically removed. They had to surgically go in and kind of remove the bacteria and drain out the fluids. Everything went well. She’s doing well.”

Following the game, Boyd dedicated his performance to Hayden.

A four-goal game at the AHL level would have been an incredible accomplishment on its own. The fact that it came during such a trying time for him makes this a truly inspirational story.

You can watch highlights of the game including all four of Boyd's goals here:


Other prospect notes:

  • In the Bears' game Friday against Laval, Riley Barber dropped the gloves with Markus Eisenchmid.  Barber was given an extra minor and game misconduct for instigating the fight in the final five minutes of the game. That penalty carries with it an automatic one-game suspension which Barber served Saturday. Here's a look at the fight.

  • Liam O'Brien had a pair of two-goal games over the week, scoring twice against Laval Friday and then two more against Toronto on Monday. Of his four goals, three of them were empty netters.
  • As the Capitals prepare for their Stadium Series game in Annapolis on March 3, Annapolis mayor Gavin Buckley—a native of Perth, Australia—made a plea to see Nathan Walker recalled for the game.  “I’ll have to put a quick shout out to the one Australian that’s playing for the Caps now, Nathan Walker. If you could just bring him up for this game, that’d be great. Because an Australian being in a hockey game is like a Jamaican bobsled team. It doesn’t happen very often.”

  • Brian Pinho was honored Friday in Providence College's Senior Night. He has served as captain of the team this season and as an assistant captain in his junior year. He spoke with The Cowl on what being a leader on the team means to him. "I think being a leader of this team is a great honor, but also a huge responsibility. I try to keep everything fun at the rink, while also bringing some intensity and competing hard every day.” You can read the full story here.
  • Goalie Adam Carlson, who was on loan to the Indy Fuel of the ECHL, was reassigned to the Kansas City Mavericks also of the ECHL. He started two games for his new team and turned aside 42 of the 48 total shots he faced.

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