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Mike Weber: 'You need to step on their throat and end it'

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Mike Weber: 'You need to step on their throat and end it'

PHILADELPHIA -- It is one of the most often-used clichés this time of year and we heard it again from the Capitals, who lead their first-round series three games to none with a chance to finish off the Flyers tonight at the Wells Fargo Center (6 p.m. Pregame Live, CSN).

“It’s the hardest one to win every series,” Capitals left wing Jason Chimera said. “They’re not going to roll over. They want to win one game and take one game at a time. So are we.”

“I think in a game like this, when it’s do or die for a team, it’s just playing smart and playing hard because you know they’ll be throwing everything at you,” Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said, unaware of the irony within his words. “It’s the biggest test and the hardest one to win.”

The Caps and their fans know this all too well. During the 11-year Alex Ovechkin era, the Caps are 4-13 when they’ve had a chance to close out a team in a playoff series. They are also 0-4 in their last four tries to clinch a series on the road (since the 2013 playoffs).

In fact, this is the first time in their playoff history the Caps can pull off a sweep.

“We’d never been up 3-0 in a series, too, so it doesn’t mean anything,” Chimera said. “We know what’s in front of us and we want to go get it. You want to put the hammer down when you can.”

Mike Weber, a hardened, stay-at-home defenseman who could replace Brooks Orpik on the Caps’ third defense pairing tonight, was more direct with his wording. His last playoff appearance came back on April 26, 2011 when the Buffalo Sabres lost to the Flyers in Game 7 of their first-round series. That Flyers won that game 5-2 in Philadelphia.

“They are relentless, especially in this building, and they have a never-die mentality,” Weber said. “That’s why, when you have a chance to close out a team in the playoffs, you need to step on their throat and end it. You can’t give them any breath, any life.

“That’s kind of the mindset that’s been around this room. We’re really looking forward to the opportunity we have.”

Picked up at the trade deadline for his experience and toughness, Weber said it was difficult watching from the press box on Monday night and seeing teammate Dmitry Orlov get run from behind into the boards by Flyers forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who was suspended one game for the hit.

“It’s frustrating when you’re not out there when things get crazy,” Weber said. “Obviously, we beat them up pretty good (6-1) last game, but the best way (to respond) is to send them home for a long summer. That’s the mindset.”

MORE CAPITALS: Bellemare suspended one game for Orlov hit

 

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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!