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Truth is, Capitals love beating the Penguins


Truth is, Capitals love beating the Penguins

On Tuesday morning several Capitals players said they didn’t give much thought to the possibility of playing the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the playoffs.

They lied.

“Yeah, we’re always trying to lay some groundwork here and put doubt in teams’ minds,” Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said after the Caps’ 3-2 win over the Penguins Tuesday night at Verizon Center. 

“This is one of those teams you really want to put down if possible. They’ve done a good job against us the last couple years. It’s nice that we can finally be on top. We haven’t met in the playoffs in a while, so it’s nice if we do get them at some point, to know we got some wins this year.”

The Caps have not faced the Penguins in the playoffs since 2009, when the Caps won the first two games of the series, only to fall in Game 7 in a 6-2 rout.

Only Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Jay Beagle remain from that team, but don’t be mistaken, these Caps don’t like the Penguins, whom they’ll face two more times before the post-season.

“It’s probably more heated than most games I’ve played since I’ve been here,” said Mike Richards, who has 32 points in 45 career games against the Pens. “You feel it in the dressing room, the energy before the game. It was the same way in Philly. It was easy to get up for Pittsburgh and it’s no different here.”

RELATED: T.J. Oshie comes through in clutch against Penguins

Capitals coach Barry Trotz said he “absolutely” brought up the possibility of facing the Penguins in the post-season in his pre-game talk, but they didn’t seem to get the message in the first half of the game. The Penguins recorded the first seven shots of the game and owned a 2-0 lead 3:45 into the second period.   

“We couldn't string two passes together today,” Trotz said. “We're going to have to readjust our alarm clocks or whatever. If we don't get that corrected, I mean, that's got to come from within. I've tried for a while, all year basically, so I'm putting it back in the room. I'm throwing it on them.”

The Caps have allowed the first goal of the game in 15 of their last 18 games but they’ve dominated opponents in third periods by an 82-49 count.

“One time it’s going to bite us in the butt,” Richards said. “Especially come playoff time, you don’t want to start slow.”

With 20 games remaining in the regular season the Capitals (46-12-4) have built a 24 –point cushion on the Penguins.

“It feels good to beat those guys for everybody in the room,” said Matt Niskanen, a former Penguin. “The big thing is we can’t coast right now. We’ve got to keep pushing to get better. You can’t have mental lapses when you’re not into it physically. 

“We talk about it a lot and it hasn’t come to fruition at the start of games but the best characteristic we have on this team this year is we’re resilient and we play to win and that’s a good characteristic.”

MORE CAPITALS: Winnik arrives in Washington ready to learn on the fly

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Touted Prospect Shane Gersich signs with Caps, joins team immediately


Touted Prospect Shane Gersich signs with Caps, joins team immediately

The Caps signed University of North Dakota forward Shane Gersich, a fifth round selection in 2014 and one of the organization’s top prospects, on Friday morning, the team announced.

Gersich, a left shot who is listed at 5-11, 175-pounds, has already joined the team in Montreal, where the Caps play the Canadiens at Bell Centre on Saturday night.

His contract, which begins this season, carries an average annual value of $925,000.

It’s unclear when Gersich will make his NHL debut, but it could happen at some point in the Caps’ final eight games before the playoffs.


NBC Sports Washington has been told that the primary objective for Gersich in the coming weeks is to get his first taste of the NHL by observing—and practicing alongside—his new teammates in Washington. If the opportunity to get him into the lineup presents itself, then it’s possible he’ll suit up.

The 21-year-old just completed his third season at UND. Here are Gersich’s numbers from junior and college, courtesy of


At UND, the smooth-skating and skilled Gersich also produced this memorable goal vs. Denver:

Gersich has been assigned jersey No. 63 in Washington, according to the Caps’ website.

The addition of Gersich and subsequent subtraction of Travis Boyd, who was reassigned to Hershey on Friday morning, leaves the Caps with 14 forwards on the roster.

“I think he did a great job at rookie camp,” Caps GM Brian MacLellan said of Gersich in July. “He was one of our best players, if not the best player, at camp. Really happy about the way he’s progressed and where we picked him. I think Ross Mahoney did a great job with that pick.”

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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division


Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are right around the corner and there is still a lot to be decided.

The Metropolitan Division is going to come right down to the wire as each team seemingly continues to win and put the pressure on the first place Capitals.

With just over two weeks remaining in the regular season, the playoff matchups for the first round of the NHL playoffs are still up in the air with only five points separating the top four teams in the Metro. Washington is in good position with a four-point cushion between themselves and the second place Pittsburgh Penguins.

With both teams meeting on April 1, however, the Caps are still a long way off from clinching the division and earning home ice in the first round.



Eastern Conference (As of Friday 3/23):

1M Washington Capitals (93pts) vs. WC1 Philadelphia Flyers (88pts)
2M Pittsburgh Penguins (89pts) vs. 3M Columbus Blue Jackets (89pts)
1A Tampa Bay Lightning (106pts) vs. WC2 New Jersey Devils (82pts)
2A Boston Bruins (100pts) vs. 3A Toronto Maple Leafs (95pts)

Western Conference (As of Friday 3/23):

1C Nashville Predators (106pts) vs. WC1Anaheim Ducks (88pts)
2C Winnipeg Jets (98pts) vs. 3C Minnesota Wild (90pts)
1P Las Vegas Golden Knights (100pts) vs. WC2 Colorado Avalanche (88pts)
2P San Jose Sharks (93pts) vs. 3P Los Angeles Kings (89pts)


Washington has won only one out of four games against the Philadelphia Flyers this season. That's not an ideal first-round matchup for Washington, but there is still time for the Flyers to climb and overtake Columbus or Pittsburgh in the standings.

What seems unlikely to happen is for New Jersey or Florida to pass Philadelphia. While things remain close near the top of the standings, there seems to be a growing divide between the top-four teams in the Metropolitan Division and the two teams battling for the final remaining spot in the playoffs.

The Flyers may be in fourth place in the division, but they still boast a healthy six-point lead over the Devils who sit in the second wild card.

If we assume New Jersey and Florida will not be able to climb to any postseason position, but the second wild card, that makes the three most likely candidates to face Washington in the first round Pittsburgh, Columbus and Philadelphia.


Metropolitan Division
1. Washington Capitals (93 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
2. Pittsburgh Penguins (89 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
3. Columbus Blue Jackets (89 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)

Atlantic Division
1. Tampa Bay Lightning (106 points, 74 GP, 45 ROW)
2. Boston Bruins (100 points, 72 GP, 42 ROW)
3. Toronto Maple Leafs (95 points, 74 GP, 37 ROW)

Wild Card:
WC1. Philadelphia Flyers (88 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)
WC2. New Jersey Devils (82 points, 73 GP, 32 ROW)

Still in the Hunt:
Florida Panthers (81points, 72 GP, 34 ROW)


Central Division
1. Nashville Predators (106 points, 73 GP, 43 ROW)
2. Winnipeg Jets (98 points, 73 GP, 42 ROW)
3. Minnesota Wild (90 points, 73 GP, 38 ROW)

Pacific Division
1. Las Vegas Golden Knights (100 points, 74 GP, 44 ROW)
2. San Jose Sharks (93 points, 74 GP, 38 ROW)
3. Los Angeles Kings (89 points, 75 GP, 39 ROW)

Wild Card:
WC1. Anaheim Ducks (88 points, 74 GP, 34 ROW)
WC2. Colorado Avalanche (88 points, 74 GP, 39 ROW)

Still in the hunt:
St. Louis Blues (85 points, 72 GP, 34 ROW)