Wizards

Beninati: Tampa's Revenge

Beninati: Tampa's Revenge

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

By Joe Beninati
Capitals Play-By-Play

A streak like that one can only last so long. The Caps were God-awful at times in the opening frame and they paid for their mistakes. Even with all that said, Washington managed to battle all the way back and erase a 4-1 first period deficit.In a game that featured one power play goal after another, the Lightning were energized by Steven Stamkos. The teenaged sharp-shooter put 2 pretty shots past Michal Neuvirth. The first one was a backhander that required amazing hand-eye coordination.

Neuvirth was not to blame for the opening 20 minute follies, but it was apparent that removing him from the crease at the start of the second gave the Caps a jolt. A couple of Mike Green goals sandwiched around an Eric Fehr strike made it a new hockey game. The back-breaking goal came from Martin St. Louis late in the second. I would have liked the Cap's chances more if they were headed to the final 20 minutes dead even.

The game took a nasty turn in the third pediod with Alex Ovechkin and Steve Downie as the central focus. We've seen Alex go on the hunt to throw a big hit before, and he had Downie lined up for the kill right in front of the Tampa bench. The Lightning post game show announcers speculated that it was a dirty hit. It was a shoulder hit to Downie's upper chest that looked clean to me. After the two re-emerged from the penalty box, Downie, playing the role of agitator, wisely tried to take Ovie off the ice again. Both players dropped their gloves and discarded their helmets, but Matt Bradley came from about 70 feet away throw the real punches.

Tampa had a lot of frustration to vent after being out-classed for12 straight games against the Caps. Their season-high seven goals and all this rough stuff should suffice. Although the rematch at the end of the month could be interesting at Verizon Center. Don't miss the Caps Wednesday against the Panthers on CSN.

Quick Links

Wizards likely to sign free agent Okaro White to fill 14th roster spot, per source

usatsi_10442527.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Wizards likely to sign free agent Okaro White to fill 14th roster spot, per source

The Wizards are set to sign free agent power forward Okaro White to fill their 14th roster spot, NBC Sports Washington has learned.

Washington needs to add a 14th player to reach the league roster minimum after they waived guard Chasson Randle on Nov. 11. Technically, they have until Nov. 25, per league rules which allow teams to carry 13 players for 14 days.

White, 26, has played two NBA seasons, both with the Miami Heat. He was undrafted out of Florida State University and has also spent time with the Cavs, Hawks and Spurs despite not appearing in regular season games with them.

White has played 41 total NBA games. He has career averages of 2.9 points and 2.3 rebounds.

Though White will get an NBA roster spot, he could see time with the team's G-League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go. At the NBA level, he gives the Wizards another big man, which could come in handy depending on how long Dwight Howard is affected by his piriformis muscle injury.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

Capitals mailbag: What to do with Andre Burakovsky

usatsi_11599950.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Capitals mailbag: What to do with Andre Burakovsky

It’s time for the weekly Capitals mailbag! Check out the Nov. 21 edition below. Have you got a Caps question you want to be answered in next week’s mailbag? Send it on Twitter using #CapsMailNBC or by email to CapitalsMailbag@gmail.com

Please note some questions have been edited for clarity.

Without a clear go-to guy on the faceoff anymore, who takes the draw has become much more situational.

One thing that was not talked about all that much when the team lost Beagle was that not only was he the best faceoff player on the team, he was also the only right-shot center. Why does that matter? Consider a faceoff in the right circle on a defensive-zone draw. A left-shot center is going to sweep the puck to the center of the ice which is not ideal in the defensive zone. It’s no coincidence that the team signed a right-shot center Nic Dowd in the offseason. Travis Boyd shoots right as well.

If you notice, there are even times when T.J. Oshie lines up in the faceoff circle in place of Nicklas Backstrom and I’m not talking about when Backstrom is kicked out of the draw. I haven’t asked Reirden about this, but I suspect it is because Backstrom shoots left and Oshie shoots right.

So to answer your question, there’s no one player the Caps are looking to get on the ice when they need a draw. It depends on if the puck is on the offensive or defensive zone and in the left or right circle. It’s all a matter of what direction the team wants the puck to go.

Kevin J writes: At what point do you cut bait with a player (Burakovsky) that isn’t meeting expectations? And what do you think you could reasonably get in return?

There’s no question the Caps need more production out of Burakovsky who has only two goals and four points in 20 games. In the final year of his contract, his low production inevitably brings up questions about his future in Washington.

First, when considering a trade, it’s important to remember that all the reasons you want to trade a player away, an opposing general manager will know that. Opposing GMs know he has four points, they know he’s a streaky player and they will certainly know his injury history. The problem with trying to move him now is that the team would be selling low. As frustrating as his production can be, Brian MacLellan is not going to simply trade a player away that the team drafted for pennies on the dollar. He has to be able to get value in return or there is no point.

It’s also important to remember that, unless you get an NHL player in return, you have to find someone to plug into his spot in the lineup. Wayne Gretzky is not sitting in the press box waiting to step in. Are the Caps prepared to give a player like Dmitrij Jaskin an every-day, third-line role? That is probably what a Burakovsky trade would mean.

You also have to consider that Burakovsky is a pending restricted free agent. This will mean the team will retain his rights if and only if he is offered a qualifying offer equal to his current deal of $3 million. If an opposing general manager does not think he’s worth that, he won’t want to make a trade for a player knowing he won’t offer him a qualifying offer. That would mean trading for a player who could walk in the summer.

MacLellan went to great lengths to keep his championship roster together in the offseason. Trading Burakovsky would be trading a piece of that and losing the Burakovsky, Lars Eller, Brett Connolly line that has been effective in the past. He will only do that for the right deal and I believe the return on a Burakovsky trade would be too low to justify at this point.

The Caps may need to at least be open to offers considering Burakovsky’s continued inconsistent production, but I’m not sure there will be that much interest in him until he starts racking up more points.

The Capitals currently have the maximum of 23 players on the roster and are very close to the salary cap ceiling. Obviously, if they acquire a defenseman, that would mean reassigning Jonas Siegenthaler back to Hershey, but that does not clear up much cap space. Washington also has two extra forwards on the roster, but the team is not going to move any forwards until Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov get healthy and return to the lineup.

So yes, the Caps do have room on the roster to trade for a physical defenseman when they get healthy on offense, but they do not have much cap space. Plus, given how well Madison Bowey and Siegenthaler have played, I do not anticipate MacLellan trying that.

There is no question the Caps lost a lot of their physicality when Wilson and Orpik were both out, but Wilson is back, the team’s young defensemen are playing well and there seems to be no need for the team to pull the trigger on a trade.

Nathan S writes: Why does the NHL get away with being so secretive with injuries? Other leagues such as the NFL have very strict reporting requirements. It would seem this would be in best interest of player safety.

The upper-body, lower-body injuries are certainly frustrating to fans (and the media considering how often we get asked what a player’s specific injury is), but that’s not going away anytime soon. Gary Bettman said as much at a recent press conference announcing the league’s partnership with MGM Resorts. While you may believe it is in the best interest of players for teams to announce specific injuries, the league disagrees. The fear is that if you announce a player has a hand injury, you will see opponents go after a player’s hand. If you announce a player has a shoulder injury, opponents will go after a player’s shoulder. By being cryptic, therefore, teams are protecting their players.

The only thing that I believe could possibly change this is sports gambling. The more the NHL dips its toe into the world of sports gambling, the more pressure the league could start to feel from partners over revealing the specific nature of injuries. Otherwise, this is not going to change and it will continue to give the media and fans alike upper-body injuries…er, I mean headaches.

Thanks for all your questions! If you have a question you want to be read and answered in next week’s mailbag, send it in to CapitalsMailbag@gmail.com or use #CapsMailNBC on Twitter.

Have a happy Thanksgiving, Caps nation!

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: