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Holtby hopes to keep streak alive

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Holtby hopes to keep streak alive

NEW YORK -- Braden Holtbys NHL resume is not the most extensive, but it is worth noting he has gone 24 straight NHL starts without losing consecutive games.

I didnt even know how many it is, Holtby said after Mondays morning skate at Madison Square Garden.

Maybe the key is to keep a level head through the highs and lows. Never having two bad games in a row is the key to consistency and I want to have a solid performance.

Holtby allowed three goals on 18 shots in Saturdays series-opening 3-1 loss to the Rangers. One goal came on a wraparound stuffer by Artem Anisimov, another on a gloveside slapper by Chris Kreider and a third on an uncontested 5-hole shot by Brad Richards.

Holtbys loss dropped his post-season record to 4-4 and raised his GAA to 2.13 and his save percentage to .931. His counterpart, Hart Trophy finalist Henrik Lundqvist, is now 5-3 in the playoffs with a 1.61 GAA and .945 save percentage.

Ive said this before, Holtby said. Its the Caps against the Rangers. My job is to control their offensive pushes and out job is to push against Lundqvist.

Schultz ready: Caps defenseman Jeff Schultz said hes ready to jump back into the lineup after getting scratched in favor of John Erskine in Game 1.

With New York having the benefit of the last line change, look for Rangers coach John Tortorella to match his top line of Richards between Carl Hagelin and right wing Marian Gaborik.

A guy like Gaborik is real fast and he kind of likes to sneak behind you and hang out a little higher in the offensive zone than most wingers, Schultz said. Theyre really good at give-and-goes. We need to be in good passing lines and stay in that guy going to the net.

Ratings sweep: NBCs coverage of its first two Conference Semifinal games averaged a 1.7 overnight rating, the best for weekend coverage of the second round in eight years and up six percent over last years coverage. Capitals-Rangers on Saturday and Devils-Flyers on Sunday produced the best overnight average for weekend coverage of the second round since two-game regional coverage on ABC 1.9 on May 1, 2004.
Saturdays Game 1 between the Caps and Rangers received a 1.5 overnight rating. The game received a 3.5 rating in New York and a 5.2 rating in Washington, down slightly from a 5.3 in 2009 for a second-round game against the Penguins.

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Report suggests Barack Obama is trying to recruit Masai Ujiri to Wizards

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Report suggests Barack Obama is trying to recruit Masai Ujiri to Wizards

The Wizards are reportedly preparing to make Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri a massive offer to run Washington's NBA franchise. And they may have some big-time help recruiting him to D.C. 

Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, is trying to persuade Ujiri to leave the NBA champions to join the Wizards, according to The Athletic's Ethan Strauss. 

"I hear Barack Obama's a part of that whole Masai recruitment to D.C.," Strauss said on a recent episode of the "Back To Back" podcast. "I've heard Obama wants Masai in D.C. Obama wants to do something with basketball."

Obama and Ujiri are close friends. Obama was in attendance at Game 2 of the NBA Finals in Toronto, while Ujiri attended the White House Correspondents' Dinner in 2015 when Obama was in office. 

The Wizards' potential offer for Ujiri is reportedly for six years, $60 million, and could possibly include an ownership stake in Monumental Sports & Entertainment and other responsibilities within the company, sources have told NBC Sports Washington. 

And hey, it doesn't hurt to have the former Commander in Chief making your sales pitch.

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Sekou Doumbouya visits Wizards hoping to sell them on his defense

Sekou Doumbouya visits Wizards hoping to sell them on his defense

WASHINGTON -- The Wizards hosted one of their final prospect workouts in anticipation of the June 20 NBA Draft on Friday, as six players battled in three-on-three drills with every member of Washington's front office and coaching staff in sight. But behind the glass wall of the dining lounge at the Wizards' practice facility at St. Elizabeth's was the player everyone wanted to see.

Sekou Doumbouya, who is projected to land in the lottery on draft night, made a visit to Washington to speak with Wizards personnel. He did not participate in the workout, but through face-to-face interviews gave the Wizards an up-close look at a player who may or may not be on the board when they are on the clock with the ninth overall pick.

Doumbouya is the youngest player in the draft at just 18 years old, with his birthday not until late December. He is originally from Guinea but played professional basketball in France. Given his age and the fact he played in a second-tier league before making the leap to the NBA, Doumbouya holds some mystery as a prospect.

In his meetings with teams, Doumbouya has tried to hammer home one point in particular.

"My defense," he said. "I can play everywhere [because] if you play defense, you can play everywhere in the league."

Defense certainly stands out when it comes to Doumbouya's potential. He is 6-foot-9 with a reported 7-foot-2 wingspan. At his age, he could keep growing. And at that size, he has the mobility to guard multiple positions, force turnovers and maybe even block some shots.

The Wizards need help with just about every area of their defense. They were 27th in defensive rating last season and 29th in points allowed. They couldn't defend the perimeter or the lane, allowing the fourth-highest three-point percentage (37%) and the fifth-most three-point makes (12.1/g), while also allowing more field goals within five feet of the rim than any team (22.1/g) and the third-highest percentage (64.2%) in that range. 

Doumbouya projects as the type of defensive anchor who could help in a variety of ways. He could step out to guard three-point shooters while also clogging lanes to the basket with his length.

The questions for Doumbouya center around how NBA-ready he is at his age and experience, and what his ceiling will ultimately be on the offensive end. Doumbouya, though, believes he can be especially effective in transition.

"Fastbreak," he said when listing his strengths. "I love running [the floor]."

Whether Doumbouya will be available at the ninth pick depends on who you ask. Most mock drafts have him at nine or lower, but his athleticism and versatility could entice a team that picks before the Wizards.

The Hawks, whom Doumbouya met with the day after seeing the Wizards, are a team to watch. They have the eighth, 10th and 17th picks in the first round, so they can afford to take a risk. They could snag Doumbouya at No. 8, then go with a safer pick or two with their other selections.

But there is a very good chance Doumbouya is the best player available when the Wizards get set to make their pick. If he does, defense will be his biggest selling point.

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