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Winnik 'shocked' to be going to Stanley Cup contender


Winnik 'shocked' to be going to Stanley Cup contender

A year ago, when he was headed toward unrestricted free agency as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, veteran forward Daniel Winnik knew he was going to be traded before the NHL trade deadline.

This year, he was “pretty shocked” when his cell phone rang at 10:45 Sunday night and Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello was on the other end.

“He said it was Washington,” Winnik said Monday via conference call. “I wasn’t quite sure if I was going to get traded or where, but I was definitely not expecting to come to the Capitals.”

Winnik said he plans on arriving in Washington on Tuesday night and his availability for the Caps’ game against the Pittsburgh Penguins depends on how quickly his work visa is processed. He said he will “for sure” play in Wednesday night’s game against the Maple Leafs at Verizon Center.

At 6-foot-2, 203 pounds, Winnik is a hard-hitting, left-handed forward who likely will play left wing on a fourth line with center Jay Beagle and right wing Mike Richards. He will also replace Brooks Laich on one of the Capitals’ penalty killing units.

Last season Winnik ranked second among NHL forwards in average shorthanded ice time (3:16). In 56 games for the Leafs this season he has four goals, 10 assists and is a minus-3 while averaging 1:41 in shorthanded ice time.

“I’ve done it since Year One of my career and I take a lot of pride in that,” Winnik said. “I think I do a good job at it and I think it’s kind of been my niche in this league and what’s kept me around at times. I think it’s very rare for a team to be called elite or at the upper echelon of the league without a good penalty kill.”

Winnik said he thinks going from the last-place Maple Leafs to the first-place Capitals will help “revitalize” his play.

MORE CAPS: LAICH ON TRADE — 'Change is part of life'

“It brings more meaning to the games, that’s for sure,” Winnik said. “It’s nothing against what we’ve been through in Toronto, but you kind of try to play spoiler when you’re out of the playoffs, like we have been in Toronto. Coming to a team that’s in a pretty cushy playoff position, you always just want to keep playing better and winning more games so we finish first in the East and hopefully win the Presidents’ Trophy as well.”

As a late-season rental with the Penguins last season, Winnik managed two goals and seven assists in 21 games but was a minus-6 in five playoff games as the Pens were eliminated in five games by the Rangers.

Winnik seems to think there will be a different ending to this season, saying he sees the Caps as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.

“I do, yeah,” he said. “I think it’s hard to predict who’s going to be Cup contenders based off of where you were seeded and playing. The last two years in Anaheim we were one of the best regular-season teams and we just didn’t make it there.

“Arguably, you could say that was the case for (the Ducks) last year and they didn’t make it. The playoffs are tough. You don’t know what to expect. But I think this is probably the deepest roster the organization has had, and that’s going to bode well. Not just that, goaltending goes a long way in playoffs, and if (Braden) Holtby just maintains that play, it should do us good.”

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Panthers honor Florida shooting victims before game against Capitals

Panthers honor Florida shooting victims before game against Capitals

Prior to their matchup against the Capitals, the Panthers honored the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Thursday night's game was the Panthers' first game on home ice since the shooting last week. BB&T Center, the home of the Panthers, is located about 20 minutes south of Parkland.

Both teams wore the school’s hat during warmups, and the Panthers will wear the school’s logo on their helmets and “MSD” patches on their jerseys for the rest of the season.

There was a was a moment of silence and ceremony prior to the game, during which the video board showed the pictures and names of all 17 victims.

Following the video Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo, who lives in Parkland, took the ice to give his own moving tribute. 

"It's time for us, as a community, to take action. Enough is enough." Luongo commended the school's teachers and said of the students, "You guys are an inspiration for all of us. You guys are giving us hope for the future." 

"When I'm done playing hockey, I want to spend the rest of my life in Parkland," Luongo said. "I love that city."

In addition to the ceremony and uniform tributes, the Panthers hosted a blood drive beginning at today noon and lasting through the second intermission of the game in an effort to replenish local blood banks.

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Being an Olympic hero is not all T.J. Oshie has in common with 2018 U.S. Women's hockey team

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Being an Olympic hero is not all T.J. Oshie has in common with 2018 U.S. Women's hockey team

Four years ago, Capitals forward T.J. Oshie was the shootout king in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. This time around Gigi Marvin was one of the Americans who provided the extra-time heroics for Team USA at Pyeongchang, carrying the women’s hockey team to the gold medal.

Ironically enough, they both were the King and Queen of their high school’s dance back in 2005.

Marvin and Oshie both went to Warroad High School in Minnesota. They graduated from the same class in 2005. Nearly every high school in the country would wish for just one Olympian, this one got two legends in one class.

Oshie famously took the puck six times for Team USA in a shootout to beat Russia back in 2014. Marvin scored the first tally of the shootout in the gold medal game against Canada. The United States would go on to win the match in seven rounds.

Oshie would go on to congratulate his fellow Warroad alum after the match.

Whoever cast the deciding votes, must have known that these two destined for glory. One could now call them the King and Queen of Olympic shootouts.