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Alex Ovechkin headed to China as an NHL Ambassador

Alex Ovechkin headed to China as an NHL Ambassador

Capitals center Alex Ovechkin is headed to China the week of Aug. 4 to serve as an international ambassador for the NHL, which is trying to grow its presence in that country. 

The NHL played two pre-season games in China last year between the Boston Bruins and the Calgary Flames. The year before the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks did the same.  

Ovechkin’s trip to Beijing will include youth hockey clinics, a media tour and business development meetings. 

“It is a huge honor for me to be an ambassador for the entire Washington Capitals organization and the National Hockey League for this special trip to China,” Ovechkin said in a statement. “I think it is very important to spend time to help make people all over the world see how great a game hockey is. I can’t wait to spend time with all the hockey fans there and I hope to meet young kids who will be future NHL players. I can’t wait for this trip!”

The NHL and the NHL Players Association are hoping to generate interest in the sport in the world’s largest market. The preseason games played in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen have drawn good crowds the past two years. The goal is to develop grassroots hockey programs at all levels, but especially for kids.

One other aspect of the trip: It generates publicity if the NHL decides to allow its players to return to the Winter Olympics in 2022 when they are hosted by Beijing. That issue needs to be worked out in the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations over the next year. NHL players had participated in every Olympic Games since Nagano, Japan in 1998 until the league refused to let players go to Pyeongchang for the Winter Olympics in South Korea last year.   

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6 things to know for Caps-Bruins: Clash of the titans

6 things to know for Caps-Bruins: Clash of the titans

The Capitals (22-5-5) return to the ice Wednesday looking to erase Monday's ugly loss. A win against the Boston Bruins (20-5-6) certainly would go a long way towards erasing the memory of that loss. Tune in to NBC Sports Washington for pregame coverage starting with Caps FaceOff Live at 6 p.m. followed by Caps Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. bringing you up to the 7 p.m. puck drop on NBCSN. Tune back to NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Postgame Live, D.C. Sports Live and Caps Overtime Live.

Here's what you need to know for Wednesday's game.

No line changes

Monday was a tough loss, but when you have been playing as well as the Caps are there is no reason to overreact. Based on the morning skate there were no line changes from Monday's game.

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin - Lars Eller - Richard Panik
Brendan Leipsic - Nic Dowd - Garnet Hathaway

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Nick Jensen
Jonas Siegenthaler - Radko Gudas

Braden Holtby starts

A battle of the top teams

This game will feature the top two teams in the league according to the standings. Washington sits atop the NHL with 49 points while the Bruins sit just behind them with 46. Boston has a game in hand so while a loss for the Caps tonight would not technically drop them to second place, it would give Boston the inside track on passing them in the near future.

You are going to hear the phrase "measuring stick" a lot before and after this game.

Forget about Monday

Washington dropped Monday's game 5-2 at home to Columbus. Yikes. That is not the way you want to go into a big matchup, but hey, the Bruins are in the same boat. Boston lost on Monday 5-2 to the Ottawa Senators so both teams are coming into this game off a bad loss.

When last we met

The Caps and Bruins met once this season already back on Nov. 16 in a game that would result in a crazy shootout victory for Washington.  T.J. Oshie scored a last-minute goal to tie the game in regulation and Jakub Vrana would win it in a shootout with this absolute gem:

You can read more on that game here.

Pastrnak may end Ovechkin's Rocket Richard run

Ovechkin has won the last two Rocket Richard Trophies as the league's top goal scorer and six of the last seven. David Pastrnak may finally end that run this season. Pastrnak currently leads the league with 25 goals. He hit 25 goals in his 27th game which made some wonder if he could hit the fabled 50 in 50 mark, but he currently finds himself in a four-game goalless drought, his longest drought of the season.

Ovechkin sits second with 21 so he remains well within striking distance.

The Caps have owned the Bruins lately

Washington lost to Boston on Feb. 3, 2019. That was the first time the Bruins had beaten the Caps since 2014. Washington has completely owned Boston in this matchup with the Caps winning 15 of the last 16 games they have played one another. While Tuukka Rask may be one of the top netminders in the league, Washington sure seems to have his number. He is a woeful 2-11-5 against the Caps with a .889 save percentage and 3.10 GAA.

That probably is why Washington played Jaroslav Halak the last time they met and why Halak will be getting the start again on Wednesday.

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Lars Eller thought Tuukka Rask's post-scrimmage freakout was over the top, but he gets it

Lars Eller thought Tuukka Rask's post-scrimmage freakout was over the top, but he gets it

Losing sucks. Just ask Tuukka Rask.

During a Bruins' intra-squad scrimmage Tuesday at Capitals' MedStar Iceplex, Rask's team lost and he lost his mind.

Smashing his stick over the crossbar six times and throwing the pieces around the ice as the winning team celebrated just feet away, Rask left it all on the ice, literally.

“I don’t know what to comment on that," Lars Eller said laughing on The Sports Junkies Wednesday.

“I’ve seen goalies occasionally smash their stick, break it, usually once, maybe once across the crossbar but not like that many times. But competitive people are competitive, even in practice.”

Here's to hoping Rask has cooled off before the Caps' Wednesday night game against the Bruins!

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