Capitals

Davis fuels Utah St. rout of Western Oregon 86-57

Davis fuels Utah St. rout of Western Oregon 86-57

LOGAN, Utah (AP) Freshman Marcel Davis scored a career-high 21 points, Preston Medlin added 18 and Utah State crushed Western Oregon 86-57 on Saturday night in an emotional game before an Aggies teammate who had collapsed and had to be revived four days earlier.

The Wolves were within two points early in the second half before Medlin scored six straight and Davis took over - his points the most by an Aggies player this season.

Davis made 9 of 11 shots, including three 3-pointers. He had been averaging 2.2 points.

Aggies players had patches with Danny Berger's number, 12, stitched onto their uniforms, and signs read ``We Love Danny'' and ``Welcome Home.''

The 22-year-old Berger had been discharged from a Salt Lake City area hospital earlier Saturday after having a small defibrillator installed under his skin in his chest. He hopes to play again though it will be weeks before he has a chance to begin that comeback attempt.

The raucous Dee Glen Smith Spectrum crowd chanted his name and signs praised longtime assistant trainer Mike Williams as ``fantasy trainer'' for saving Berger's life after he went into cardiac arrest.

Spencer Butterfield started in Berger's place and finished with 10 points, including a 3-pointer that gave the Aggies (5-1) an 11-8 lead and launched a 16-5 Utah State run.

Andy Avgi led Division II Western Oregon (6-3) with 15 points, and Nelson Kolton added 10.

Utah State led 38-31 at halftime thanks to a 16-4 edge on points in the paint and defense that held the Wolves to 38 percent shooting.

A 3-pointer by Devon Alexander cut Utah State's lead to 43-41 but the Aggies went on an 8-0 run, with three straight baskets by Medlin.

Then Davis took over. The 6-2 guard had been averaging 2.2 points but had already matched his previous career high of eight points by halftime.

As the clock wound down in the blowout victory, the crowd again chanted ``Danny Berger, Danny Berger.''

Berger shook hands with opposing players afterward before heading to the locker room.

The game was Utah State's first since an 80-78 overtime road victory over Santa Clara on Nov. 28. Wednesday's matchup against Brigham Young was postponed because of Berger's health scare. It has been rescheduled for Feb. 19 in Provo.

Berger entered the arena just after his teammates ran onto the court, wearing his letterman's jacket and his left arm in a sling because of the defibrillator. He flashed a wide smile at the standing ovation and the signs welcoming him back.

Berger, his father and Williams met with the media before the game, recalling the scene before, during and after the incident Tuesday afternoon on the same floor. Berger called his recovery a ``miracle'' and was excited to be back in Logan but was understandably tired.

``I'll be all right. I won't be running up and down the court,'' said Berger, who went to high school in Medford, Ore., and was averaging 7.6 points and 3.6 rebounds as a starting forward for the Aggies.

He acknowledged it would be emotional, even though he doesn't remember much about the incident, except feeling dizzy as if he had stood up too fast.

``To be out (of the hospital) feels great,'' he said. ``It's such a blessing to be alive and to have another chance. I'm thankful for a lot of people.''

Williams did CPR then used an automatic defibrillator on Berger to get his heart working again. Berger was taken to a local hospital then flown to Intermountain Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition until Thursday. By Friday he was on a treadmill as doctors tested his heart.

Berger couldn't say whether he would be ready for the BYU game, after all, until Tuesday his most serious health problem had been a mild concussion and sprained ankle.

His family and his second family at the Spectrum were just glad he was alive.

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5 things to know about the newest Capital Radko Gudas

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NBC Sports Washington

5 things to know about the newest Capital Radko Gudas

Most fans know little about Radko Gudas other than the fact that he has a reputation for being a dirty player. Here are some facts to help you get to know the newest Capital a little better.

1. Gudas has been suspended four times in his career

First the bad news. Gudas has a lengthy suspension history and is one hit away from getting a significant suspension from the Department of Player Safety. Here’s a look at all four of his suspensions:

Dec. 2, 2015: Check to the head of Mike Zibanejad, suspended two games

Oct. 10, 2016: Late check to the head of Austin Czarnik, suspended six games

Nov. 19, 2017: Slash to the head of Mathieu Perreault, suspended 10 games

Feb. 20, 2019: High-stick to the head of Nikita Kucherov, suspended two games

These plays are why Gudas has the reputation that he does.

Fans will want to compare Gudas with Tom Wilson, but really there is no comparison here. If you watch these plays from Gudas they certainly seem much more intentional than anything Wilson does.

The good news is that Gudas is working on playing a cleaner game.

“I worked on it in the summer and I thought I adjusted the game enough to still be able to play physical, just not be a liability out there for me team,” Gudas told reporters in a conference call on Tuesday. “It's always something hard to adjust, but we still have to do it. It's our job. If you don't hurt the team that you're playing for while doing it, that's where you can find (the line) as a player.”

This is not just lip service as Gudas’ penalty numbers have gone in each of the past three seasons, going from 116 in 2015-16 to 93, to 83 to 63 in 2018-19.

2. Gudas has had two fights against the Caps

Gudas has not been shy about dropping the gloves in his career and has done so twice against Washington.

The first instance came back on Nov. 11, 2014 while he was playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning. A scrum broke out after Eric Fehr barreled into goalie Ben Bishop and Gudas and Wilson became engaged leading to both players dropping the gloves.

The second fight came this past season. In a game between the Caps and Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 8, Gudas laid a big hit on Nic Dowd and Devante Smith-Pelly immediately came to his teammate’s defense. The fight was more of a tussle than anything else as neither player could get their hands free.

3. Gudas was voted as Philadelphia’s best defenseman in 2018-19

Now on to the good news. The Caps have actually gotten a good defenseman.

When it was announced that the Caps had traded Matt Niskanen for Gudas, the initial reaction was that Washington’s defense had gotten worse, but that was a necessary price to pay considering the team needed to clear cap space. That may not be the case.

Gudas had a very good 2018-19 season for the Flyers, so much so that he was given a team award as the most outstanding defenseman as voted on by sportswriters and broadcasters.

Did it help that pretty much everyone on Philadelphia’s blue line had a bad year? Yes, there is no denying that. Gudas is not the caliber player that he should be an NHL team’s best defenseman. But he is a lot better than most people give him credit for.

Make no mistake, this was not a simple salary dump by Washington. Brian MacLellan very shrewdly freed up some cap space by bringing in a defenseman who can play at a level that is just as good if not better than Niskanen can at this point.

4. Gudas has experience playing with Michal Kempny and Jakub Vrana

Gudas is from the Czech Republic and has some experience with some of his new Czech teammates. He and Kempny played on the U18 and 20 Czech teams together. Gudas and Vrana were teammates over the summer in the World Championships which Kempny could not participate in because he was injured.

“I played with a lot of the guys throughout the years that I play in the league, but with Michal, I used to play on the national team (with him),” Gudas said. “We're the same age. We played some important games together in youth. And with Jakub, I know him from the world national team a little bit now and I think we hit it off pretty well. Looking forward to work with them, too.”

5. Gudas is family with former Cap Michal Neuvirth

Neuvirth and girlfriend Karolina Gudasova had a baby girl in September 2017. As you can guess from Karolina’s last name, she is the sister of Radko thus making him the uncle to their girl, Emilka. Now Gudas is officially Neuvirth’s brother-in-law after Neuvirth and Karolina were married which led to hilariously random pictures like this.

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Free Agency Bracket: Brett Connolly vs. Brooks Orpik

Free Agency Bracket: Brett Connolly vs. Brooks Orpik

It is almost time for NHL free agency to begin, and the Capitals certainly have needs to fill and a limited budget. Who would be the best fit? Who would be the best free agent target for Washington to pursue? That’s what NBC Sports Washington wants to find out!

Our experts got together and made a bracket of the 16 best free agent fits. The bracket is divided into four regions: Third line forward, fourth line forward, depth defenseman and Caps’ free agent. Now we want you to tell us who you want to see rocking the red next year!

Every weekday we will match two free agents up against one another and present a case for each player. Then you get to vote and decide who advances!

Check out today’s matchup:

Region: Capitals free agents

Brett Connolly vs. Brooks Orpik 

 

2018-19 stats 

Brett Connolly (27 years old): 81 games played with the Capitals, 22 goals, 24 assists, 46 points, 13:20 TOI

Playoffs: 7 games played with the Capitals, 2 goals, 0 assists, 4 points, 13:50 TOI

 

Brooks Orpik (38 years old): 53 games played with the Capitals, 2 goals, 7 assists, 9 points, 15:40 TOI

Playoffs: 7 games played with the Capitals, 1 goal, 1 assist, 18:12 TOI

 

Hockey-Graph contract projections

Brett Connolly: 3 years, $3,536,091 cap hit

Brooks Orpik: 1 year, $1,150,064 cap hit

 

The case for Brett Connolly 

The Capitals have already re-signed one of their third-line free agents with Carl Hagelin’s new deal. Is there room left for Connolly? There is an argument to be made here. Connolly has made himself comfortable in Washington. He tied his career highs in goals twice (15) and then broke through with a career-best 22. And he is one of the league’s most productive players given his limited ice time. 

There are just too many big names in front of Connolly to get him much power-play time. Those 22 goals wouldn’t be easy to replace and GM Brian MacLellan said scoring depth is a concern this offseason. If he is again willing to sacrifice role for a bump in pay and some security then maybe Connolly returns to a place he re-ignited his career. The talent is certainly there as the No. 6 overall pick in the 2010 draft and Connolly is headed into his age-27 season so a three or four-year deal takes care of his prime years. 

It might be out of Washington’s hands anyway. Even if the Capitals want to keep him, other teams could use money AND ice time to entice Connolly. But can they strike gold again with another cheap third-line winger as they did with Connolly? That’s not easy to replicate. They could simply sign Connolly and take care of it, but the salary cap is tight.    

The case for Brooks Orpik

A leader, a winner, a three-time Stanley Cup champion. Hard to measure what Brooks Orpik has done for the Capitals in his five years with the team. Did the Capitals overpay an aging defenseman when they signed Orpik before the 2014-15 season? Maybe. But it worked out for everyone even after last summer’s buyout and subsequent return. Orpik contributed again last season – though a knee injury limited him and bothered him most of the season. He even scored a game-winning overtime goal in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Some of this will depend on what Orpik wants to do. He said it would be later in the summer before he makes a firm decision on whether to play at age 39. 

But while the Capitals have solidified their blueline with the trade for Radko Gudas and have two young players – Jonas Siegenthaler and Christian Djoos – available to play the left side, it’s always nice to have a veteran there. Orpik might not want to play a limited No. 6/7 role even if Washington wants him back. And maybe the Capitals want to give those young players ice time. But Orpik won’t cost much more than they do. Do you bring him back? 

Who’s your pick? Vote here. 

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