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Prospect Report: Vanecek named ECHL Goaltender of the Week


Prospect Report: Vanecek named ECHL Goaltender of the Week

Hershey update: 7-5-0-3, 3rd in the Atlantic Division. Last week: 1-2-0-0

The Jakub Vrana injury caught everyone by surprise, but details are now starting to emerge about the specifics of the injury.

Vrana suffered tendon damage to his right wrist during a team practice, reports Dave Sottile of PennLive. He was reaching for a puck when his stick jammed against the boards, causing the injury. The wrist is currently immobilized in a hard cast and he is expected to miss three months.

Hershey certainly could have used him this week. The Bears lost their first two games of the weekend by a combined score of 12-0. They did salvage two points with a win on Sunday, but the first two games will leave a bad taste in everyone's mouth until they take the ice again. The Caps' prospects struggled along with the team as only Nathan Walker was able to tally an assist. 

RELATED: Quick turnaround for Caps after win in Detroit with Stars up next

Other prospect notes:

Goalie Vitek Vanecek was named the CCM ECHL Goaltender of the Week for the week of Nov. 9-15. Vanecek started in both of the South Carolina Stingrays' games over the weekend allowing only two goals on 45 shots. For the season, he now has a 1.99 GAA and .916 save percentage.

South Carolina teammate Tyler Lewington is still looking for his first point, but he did get into his first professional fight on Friday as he sparred with Jack Rodewald of the Orlando Solar Bears. Watch the fight and some great saves from Vanecek here:

Defenseman Colby Williams made his season debut for the Regina Pats on Friday. He had not yet played this season after falling through a glass table and suffering an arm laceration in the offseason. You can read more about his return here from Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post.

Williams had a tremendous return with a goal and an assist in his first game. He added another goal and an assist to give him four points in his first three games.

And this from a defenseman!

Here are the highlights from his first game back:

Williams also showed some great moves in his second game which you can see here.

Across the pond, Jonas Siegenthaler recorded an assist for the ZSC Lions in Sunday's game. In 16 games, he has three assists and is a plus-10.

In the college ranks, Brian Pinho scored one goal for Providence in a 3-3 tie against Boston, but it is his contributions in the face-off circle that are really impressive. According to Capitals Outsider, Pinho has won 57.3 percent of the face-offs he has taken this season.

Thomas DiPauli continues to stay hot with two assists on Friday for Notre Dame. It was his second multi-point game of the season and 10th of his career. He is currently tied for the team lead in points with 11 (four goals, seven assists).

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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? 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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Alex Ovechkin's evolution as a player was on full display in Game 6

Alex Ovechkin's evolution as a player was on full display in Game 6

We all know that Alex Ovechkin is a world-class goal scorer. He is the best goal scorer of his generation and perhaps the best of all time.

He tallied another two goals Monday in the Capitals' 6-3 victory Game 6 over the Blue Jackets, but that’s not what really impressed head coach Barry Trotz.

While Ovechkin's career is full of highlight reel goals, it was the ugly plays that really caught Trotz's eye on Monday.

"[Ovechkin's] evolved in areas of his game," Trotz said after the game.

"He’s not just at that dot. He’ll go to the front of the net, he’s not scared to do that. It’s just adding layers to his game."

Ovechkin's first goal of the game was not pretty. It won't make any Top 10 lists, it won't be shown throughout the U.S. and Canada. It was an ugly rebound goal...and it was beautiful.

Just four minutes after Nick Foligno tied the game, Ovechkin put the Caps back ahead with a rebound goal. He parked himself in front of goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and was in perfect position when Bobrovsky made a kick out save to backhand the rebound into the empty net.

Those are the type of plays we did not always see from "The Great 8." But his performance on Monday did not stop there.

As Washington attempted to shut the door on the game and the series, Ovechkin did what veteran leaders do, laying out to block a Ryan Murray shot with less than three minutes to go.

"I’m probably as proud of him right at the end of the game blocking shots and doing that type of thing," Trotz said. "That’s full commitment. When that was necessary, that’s where you get your street cred with your teammates. You’ve got to block a shot when it’s necessary and get a puck out when it’s necessary. I’d probably give him more props on that than even scoring goals because that’s what you really expect of him."

Few expected a 32-year-old Ovechkin to rebound from a 33-goal season, but he did just that with 49 goals in 2017-18 to win his seventh Rocket Richard Trophy as the league-leader.

The reason why was on full display on Monday. His game has evolved, as cliche as it sounds.

Instead of relying just on the quick rushes, pretty one-timers and incredible dekes, Ovechkin has committed more to getting to the contested areas. He's altered his game. He is scoring the type of ugly, dirty goals the Capitals desperately need in the playoffs.

That commitment on offense seemed to translate to the defense as well on Monday night, putting his body is a dangerous position laying out for blocked shots.

"Those are the necessary things, those necessary details that allow you to win," Trotz said. "If you don’t have them, then you’re not going to win."

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