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4 reasons the Caps lost to the Hurricanes

4 reasons the Caps lost to the Hurricanes

The Capitals saw a 10-game home win streak and a five-game win streak overall snapped as they fell 3-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. Here's how they lost.

A poor pass from John Carlson

The Hurricanes opened up the scoring in the second period on a power play...but it was Washington who was the man up. In a play that will not make John Carlson's personal highlight reel, the Caps' defenseman tried to pass to Alex Ovechkin on the point, but the pass was too far ahead of him. Jordan Staal anticipated the pass, poked it past Ovechkin and was off on the breakaway. Staal would finish the play by tucking the puck through the five-hole of Braden Holtby with the backhand for the shorthanded goal.


A controversial no-possession call

Midway through the third period, Tom Wilson was awaiting a delayed penalty call for boarding. Carolina took advantage with a go-ahead goal for Victor Rask, but it was not without controversy. Braden Holtby saved an initial shot from Justin Faulk and the rebound bounced up into the slot where Brooks Orpik took a swing at it with his stick. He clearly got a piece of the puck, but was it enough to qualify for possession?

On a delayed penalty, the play is blown dead once the offending team gets possession of the puck, but what qualifies as possession is at the discretion of the referee. Orpik definitely touches the puck, but touching does not necessarily mean possession. The refs allowed play to continue and Rask fired the puck past Holtby for the go-ahead goal, despite the Caps' protests.

A powerless power play

The Capitals had three opportunities with the extra man, but failed to score on any of them in the loss. In fact, Carolina got more goals on Washington's power play than the Caps did with Staal's shorthanded goal. Washington had a late chance to score as Klas Dahlbeck was whistled for slashing just 1:40 after Rask scored the go-ahead goal. The Caps, however, could not take advantage.


Not enough pressure

Scott Darling has had his struggles in his first season with the Hurricanes with a 2.97 GAA and .893 save percentage. Carolina's latest push in the standings has been largely because of the resurgence of Cam Ward who has an 11-4-2 record as compared to Darling's 8-11-6. Darling played fairly well in this game, but the fact is that Washington did not get nearly enough pressure on him with only 27 shots on goal. The Caps have been held to fewer than that only once in their last seven games. That came on Jan. 2 against the same Carolina Hurricanes.

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The Flyers' new mascot, Gritty, is here to haunt your dreams


The Flyers' new mascot, Gritty, is here to haunt your dreams

On Monday morning, just a week shy of the official start to the 2018-19 NHL season, the Philadelphia Flyers triumphantly announced their new mascot and, full disclosure, it’s terrifying.

Meet Gritty.

The furry orange abomination is a cross between fabled Canadiens' (and Expos) mascot Youppi, The Muppet Show’s Animal, and something that would probably murder you in your sleep.

He’s named Gritty, because, according to the Flyers’ official webpage, is supposed to reflect the strength, tenacity, and raw passion of the team and their fanbase.

His portly figure and bouncy, gyrating hips are not the problem. In fact, watching him move is kind of delightful.

No, the real problem here is his eyes. Those oddly realistic googly eyes,  following his every movement and hip circle ike a car accident you just can’t look away from. His mouth, always agape, is the icing on the nightmare fuel cake..

Hockey fans online went into a tizzy after the reveal. Monday's primary activity was to lay into the Flyers' new mascot with heavy heat.

Despite their divisional rivalry, the Caps’ own loveable eagle Slapshot welcomed Gritty to the family in a very diplomatic manner. 

Other teams in the Metropolitan division, namely the Pittsburgh Penguins however, were not so kind.

According to his official bio, “recent construction at the Wells Fargo Center disturbed [Gritty’s] secret hideout forcing him to show his face publicly for the first time.” We think this is supposed to be charming and mysterious in the same way that everyone describes Bigfoot, but it mostly works at convincing us to head for the hills. 

You can also book him for event appearances. We’d recommend him as a supportive presence at divorce hearings, or as the featured guest at your horrible cousin’s wedding.

It’s worth noting that other Metropolitan teams are not without mascot sins. In 2011, the Columbus Blue Jackets had a NSFW cannon named Boomer, who barely survived half a season before being retired. 

Thankfully, Caps fans only have to handle Slapshot's themed costumes for special events this season.

Philly, we’re happy for you, but you can keep Gritty within city limits.


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It's not crazy to think Alex Ovechkin could lead the NHL in goals again

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It's not crazy to think Alex Ovechkin could lead the NHL in goals again

You may think the odds are against Alex Ovechkin winning yet another Rocket Richard Trophy for leading the league in goals. Ovechkin turned 33 on Sept. 17 and since the trophy was first introduced in the 1998-99 season, only one player over the age of 30 has ever won it.

That player was Ovechkin. He’s done it twice.

Let’s take a minute to appreciate just how dominant a scorer Alex Ovechkin has been through his career. Only three times has a player reached the 50-goal plateau in the past five seasons. Those players are Ovechkin (50 goals in 2015-16), Ovechkin (53 goals in 2014-15) and Ovechkin (51 goals in 2013-14).

Normally, it would be crazy to think a player over 30 could lead the league in goals. It would be crazy to think a player over 30 could score 50.

Ovechkin -- who has led the league in goals in five of the past six seasons -- is anything but normal.

After winning his seventh Rocket Richard Trophy last season and showing no signs of fatigue or decline in a dominant Stanley Cup championship run that won him a Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP, it’s not crazy to think he can do it again at age 33.

Maybe his 50 goal days are behind him. But even if he doesn’t hit that mark, he should still be in contention considering no one else in the league has scored 50 goals since the 2010-11 season when Corey Perry netted 50. Forty-nine goals was all it took last season for Ovechkin to lead the league.

With a balanced line of Evgeny Kuznetsov in the middle and Tom Wilson on the wing and a still dominant power play that will continue to be coached by Todd Reirden and Blaine Forsythe, Ovechkin will be able to light the lamp and will absolutely be in contention to lead the league in goals yet again.