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Players, owners vie for public support

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Players, owners vie for public support

Capitals right wing Joel Ward lives in Scarborough,Ontario, a working-class suburb of Toronto where hockey is,well, everything.Ward cannot go to a sandwich shop or a gas station or abarber shop without hearing about how fans feel about an NHL lockout, whichofficially went into effect at midnight on Saturday.Everywhere you turneverybody wants to talk about it, Ward said. The fans just want to seehockey, especially in Toronto.Its a Leafs town. They dont care how its resolved. When the fall comes itshockey season, so this is disappointing.Inevitably, fans will take sides in labor disputes and thisone is no different. The owners want the players share of league revenue tofall from the current 57 percent to 49 percent.The players say they are willing to slow the growth offuture salaries and have a plan to help the leagues financially strugglingteams, but are refusing rollbacks on their current contracts.Im definitely for the players, said Fred Welker, a Capitalsseason ticket holder for 23 years. Taking a pay cut just seems so ridiculous tome. If you sign a contract for a million dollars in 2008 and all of a suddenthey start slapping it down, its just not right.Sonja Jones of Owens Mills, Md., has been a Caps fan since2005. She is also siding with the players, but for a different reason.I like the fact they are willing to give up the money the ownerswant as long as it goes towards clubs that need it, she said. I definitelycommend them for that. Theyre not being greedy about it. They want to play,but they want all of the teams to be successful and not just the big-marketteams. I like that a lot.Jean Williams of Hershey, Pa., may have echoed the feelings of many hockey fansacross North America as they ponder a Septemberwithout the NHL.Im not taking sides, she said. I just want hockey.

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How the Caps won their first round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets

How the Caps won their first round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets

Things did not look good for the Capitals after two games.

Facing a 0-2 series hole after losing both games in Washington, it looked like it could be an early summer. The Caps were going to be the first team to ever lose a series in the playoffs to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

HOW DID THE CAPS WIN THEIR SERIES AGAINST COLUMBUS? FIND OUT HERE

But the Caps rallied.

Washington won the next four games and turned what looked like it would be another postseason disaster into a postseason triumph.

Only once in franchise history had the Caps rallied from a 0-2 deficit and only once had the Caps won four straight games to win a series. They managed both against the Blue Jackets.

Here's how the Caps were able to rally to a first-round victory over Columbus.

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Was Columbus' travel a factor in the Caps' series comeback?

Was Columbus' travel a factor in the Caps' series comeback?

Whenever a playoff series ends, the analysis begins soon after. Why did this team win? Why did this team lose? Why did this player perform while this one did not?  This is an exercise performed by media, players and coaches alike, especially for teams that walk away from a series believing they let an opportunity slip away.

The Columbus Blue Jackets fell to the Washington Capitals in six games despite taking a 2-0 series lead by winning both opening games in Washington. Head coach John Tortorella will have all summer to think about what he could have done differently and what went wrong for his team, but it sounds like he already has at least one theory as to why they lost.

In a series that featured four overtime games, Game 4 stands out as being far more one-sided than the others. Washington turned in the most dominant performance of the series in a 4-1 win that knotted the teams at two wins apiece.

That game stood out to Tortorella too and he thinks he knows why the Blue jackets laid an egg that night: Travel.

"I think we should’ve stayed in Washington after that second overtime game, the second game there," Tortorella said. "I think that comes back and gets you later on in the series. We should’ve stayed in Washington and let them get a good night sleep. They got in here so late. I don’t think it affected us in Game 3. It comes the next days, so that falls on me."

When analyzing why the Caps won the series, chances are travel is not going to be a reason many people consider. Perhaps there is some merit to this. After all, as the father of an infant, I can certainly vouch for how much of a difference one good night of sleep can make.

But perhaps there is another message being sent here by Tortorella.

Tortorella is a master at using the media to his advantage. He uses the media to send messages to his team or draw attention on himself and away from the players.

Tortorella just saw his young team give up a 2-0 series lead and lose four straight games. Those are the kind of losses that can stick with a player and create doubt in the mind of a team the next time they reach a tough spot in the postseason.

So what did Tortorella do? He came out and put the worst loss of the series on his own shoulders. Why was it his fault? Uh...travel? Yeah, let's go with travel.

The Blue Jackets are not the first team to play overtime on the road or the first team to deal with travel concerns. To hear a coach say it was a reason they lost a game and not even the next game after the travel? Well, that's a first.

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