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How Matt Murray's playing style is leaving the glove side open for the Caps

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How Matt Murray's playing style is leaving the glove side open for the Caps

How do you beat a two-time Stanley Cup-winning goalie? Shoot to the glove side.

That seems to be the strategy the Capitals are taking against Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray.

In the three games of the series, the Capitals have scored 10 goals. One goal was on an empty net in Game 2. In Game 3, John Carlson scored on a deflection and Alex Ovechkin whacked the game-winning goal out of midair.

The other seven? All of those goals have come against the glove of Murray.

Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan, however, dismissed the idea of Murray's leaky glove, saying shooting to the glove side is a common strategy for goalies that play his style.

“When you look at the ways goaltenders play the position in today's game, there's a lot of butterfly style goaltenders,” Sullivan said. “When goaltenders butterfly, there's certain areas of the net that tend to get exposed. Usually under the crossbar is one of them. Our guys try to do the same thing. I just think that's the style of most of the goaltenders in the league in today's game.”

There are numerous goalie techniques in the game of hockey, but they all boil down to two main styles of goaltending: stand-up and butterfly. Stand-up goaltending is rather self-explanatory. In the butterfly, goalies will drop to their knees to make a save with their legs and arms out on either side. As one would expect, the stand-up technique leaves openings for low shots, while the butterfly leaves more of the top half of the net exposed.

The difference between the butterfly and stand-up goaltending is…striking.

For the most part stand-up goaltending is all but extinct. Essentially every goalie in the NHL is playing some form of the butterfly, but aspects of stand-up are incorporated into hybrid techniques that combine both styles. So while every goalie plays the butterfly, some are not as quick to drop to the ice as others.

Braden Holtby, for example, is a more patient goalie than Murray when it comes to the butterfly. That’s not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just a difference in style. In Game 5 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Matt Calvert scored on a shot that looked like it completely froze Holtby, but it only looked that way because Holtby is not as quick to drop to the butterfly. The more patient the goalie, the more likely they can get “frozen” by a quick shot that is not low to the ice.

The flipside of the coin is a goalie like Murray who is very quick to drop. Watch this goal from Game 1:

Despite the fact that Evgeny Kuznetsov's shot is high to the glove side, Murray’s reaction is to drop immediately. Both of his knees are down when the goal is scored.

Since Murray likes to drop so quickly, focusing on the glove makes sense because he is more likely to leave more of that area of the net exposed, especially with the number of clean looks the Caps are getting with opportunities off the rush. Either Pittsburgh will have to start getting in the way of those shots or Murray will just have to get faster with the glove.

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Capitals at Devils: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

Capitals at Devils: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

After suffering a tough defeat to the Tampa Bay Lightening, the team with the NHL's best record, on Saturday, the Capitals (42-23-7) look to get back on track on Tuesday against the struggling New Jersey Devils (27-37-9).

Although the Devils have totaled the least amount of points of any team in the Metropolitan Division, they have won two of their last three contests.

The two teams faced off just over a couple weeks ago, when Washington shutout the Devils, 3-0, on March 8. Holtby had 25 saves in the Capitals' victory.

Here's how to tune in to Capitals-Devils on Tuesday. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

CAPITALS AT DEVILS: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. New Jersey Devils, Game 73 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season

Where: Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey

When: Tuesday, March 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: The Capitals at Devils game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (Channel Link)

Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals at Devils on NBC Sports Washington’s live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS AT DEVILS TV SCHEDULE

6:30 PM: Caps FaceOff Live
7:00 PM: Caps Pregame Live
7:30 PM: Capitals at Lightning Live
10:00 PM: Capitals Postgame Live
10:30 PM: Capitals Overtime Live

CAPITALS AT DEVILS INJURY REPORT

Capitals: N/A
Devils: Egor Yakovlev, upper body: TBD against Capitals. Nick Hischier, upper body: TBD against Capitals. Nathan Bastian, upper body, TBD against Capitals. Pavel Zacha, upper body, TBD against Capitals. Miles Wood, ankle, TBD against Capitals.

CAPITALS AT DEVILS SERIES HISTORY

Number of all-time meetings: 209 games

All-time series record: Caps lead the all-time series 106-90-13

Last Meeting: March 8, 2010: Caps beat Devils 3-0.

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Capitals sign heralded Virginia native Joe Snively to entry-level contract

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Capitals sign heralded Virginia native Joe Snively to entry-level contract

With a thin core of forward prospects, the Capitals looked locally and announced the signing of Herndon, Virginia native Joe Snively on Monday to a two-year, entry-level contract beginning in the 2019-20 season.

Snively, 23, is an undrafted free agent who played the last four years for Yale in the NCAA. He led the team in all four seasons. He scored 15 goals and 36 points in 33 games in his senior season. His skillset reportedly caught the eye of several other NHL clubs, but he elected to sign with his hometown team.

Snively is an alum of the Washington Little Capitals, the local youth hockey program based at MedStar Capitals Iceplex. He played junior hockey in the USHL with the Sioux City Musketeers tallying 64 points in 55 games.

“Obviously a unique situation with a local kid, which is phenomenal,” Todd Reirden said. “But it's very competitive to sign those free agents out of college, and we're fortunate to be able to add someone (who's) almost like a free player.”

Snively is not eligible to play with the Caps this season, so do not expect him to suit up in red anytime soon. Washington is at its maximum number of contracts with 50, which is why Snively’s contract is set to start for the 2019-20 season. He could, however, potentially play in Hershey on a tryout agreement.

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