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Wideman says he'd like to stay, but will he?


Wideman says he'd like to stay, but will he?

Impending free agent defenseman Dennis Wideman said all the right things last week before packing his bags and walking out of the Capitals practice facility in Arlington, possibly for the final time.

Yeah, I like it here, Wideman said when asked if hed like to return to the Capitals next season. I had a lot of fun here in the last year. I obviously like where were going. The core group of guys here is really, really good. So, why not? Yeah, Id love to be back.

Sounds well and good until you consider what Wideman may cost. The 29-year-old defenseman increased his market value by playing in the 2012 NHL All-Star Game and leading all Caps defensemen in goals 11, assists 35 and points 46.

And even though Widemans production tailed off significantly in the second half of the season, when he scored just one goal in his final 31 games and was a team-worst minus-17 in 14 playoff games, he should receive an increase on the 4.5 million he earned last season in the final year of a four-year, 15.75 million contract.

I havent talked to my agent yet about whats going to happen, said Wideman, who is represented by Larry Kelly. Obviously, theres a lot going on with the CBA. Ill have a meeting with him in the next few weeks and see whats going on.

It is worth noting that Wideman did not discuss a new contract with Capitals general manager George McPhee during the season. That could be an indication that both sides are prepared to allow July 1 to come without an offer coming from the Capitals.

Wideman is in a good situation because outside of Nashvilles Ryan Suter, who could be headed to Detroit or Philly but would look really good in a Caps uniform, and Philadelphias Matt Carle, who is interested in playing for Calgary, the pool of quality free-agent defensemen is shallow this summer. That could drive Widemans value to the 5 million or higher range.

With that in mind, the Caps likely will retain the services of restricted free agents Mike Green and John Carlson, which would give them a defensive depth chart of Karl Alzner, Carlson, Green, Roman Hamrlik, Dmitry Orlov, Jeff Schultz and Kevin Marshall heading into next season.

Is that enough to get it done? Or do the Caps need to make a trade for a mobile, snarly defenseman who can make opposing forwards keep their heads up before crossing the blue line?

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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

You may think this was an ugly four-game road trip for the Caps, but with a 3-2 win in Buffalo on Monday, Washington managed to earn five out of a possible eight points.

Here is why the Caps beat the Sabres and managed to save the road swing.

A missed high-stick (maybe) from Ovechkin

Ovechkin scored the first goal of the game in the second period as he deflected a high-shot from Christian Djoos down past goalie Chad Johnson. But did the deflection come on a high stick? The play was reviewed and the goal was ultimately upheld. According to the NHL, it was determined that "video review supported the Referee's call on the ice that Alex Ovechkin's stick was at or below the height of the crossbar when he tipped the puck into the Buffalo net."

NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May broke the play down during the second intermission and made his case for why the NHL actually got the call wrong.

Was that a high stick? I don't know. As compelling an argument as May made, it still looks inconclusive which means the review made the right call. What surprises me is that the referee did not disallow the goal on the initial call.

Whether the review is truly inconclusive or flat out wrong, Washington was fortunate to walk away from this sequence with the goal.


A centimeter of ice

Hockey is a game of inches and it took less than an inch to put Washington up 2-0. When an Evgeny Kuznetsov shot hit off the boards and bounced back to the front of the net, it sparked a scrum next to goalie Chad Johnson. Eventually, John Carlson was able to get a swipe on the puck sending it trickling to the goal line, but Kyle Okposo was there waiting and appeared to kick it out to safety just before it crossed. A review triggered by the Situation Room, however, revealed that the puck had just barely managed to cross the goal line before Okposo got to it.

Here's the view the NHL released after the review:

Philipp Grubauer's third period

After dominating the first 40 minutes of the game and taking a 2-0 lead, Buffalo predictably made a late push in the third period with two goals to pull within one. Washington outshot the Sabres in the first and second periods, but Buffalo reversed that trend in a big way in the third as they outshot the Caps 17-6. Grubauer turned aside 15 of those shots and was impressive after barely being tested in the first two periods.


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3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

Coming off an ugly 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, a Buffalo Sabres team missing star Jack Eichel was just what the doctor ordered for the Caps to get back on track. Washington dominated the first two periods and then survived a late surge from Buffalo for the 3-2 win.

After battling to a scoreless first, Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson spotted Washington a 2-0 lead in the second. They then held on in the third period as Buffalo began to tilt the ice in their favor, with Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring the empty-netter to put this game out of reach. Evander Kane would pull Buffalo within one, but with only three seconds left it was too little, too late.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin opened up the scoring in the second period as he deflected down an innocent shot from Christian Djoos past Chad Johnson.

Ovechkin also set a physical tone as he battled with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen all game long. After taking a high elbow from Ristolainen early in the game Ovechkin skated up to Ristolainen prior to the faceoff on his next shift and let him know that it was on. 

2. John Carlson: Carlson had a hand in both of Washington's first two goals. He recorded a secondary assist on Ovechkin's goal as he made a blue line pass to Djoos which Djoos fired on net and Ovechkin deflected. Carlson then managed to hit the puck past the goal line in a scrum next to Johnson. It looked initially like Kyle Okposo had managed to kick out the puck just before it crossed, but Carlson was awarded the goal as a review showed the puck had completely crossed the line.

3. Philipp Grubauer: A Sabres team that ranks last in the NHL in scoring and that was also without its leading scorer did not test Grubauer much in the first two periods. Facing a 2-0 deficit, however, Buffalo made a third period push to try to tie the game, but Grubauer was up to the task as he turned aside 15 of the 17 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes. He finished with 32 total saves on the night.