Capitals

Martin Brodeur will be a Devil for life

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Martin Brodeur will be a Devil for life

From Comcast SportsNet
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- Martin Brodeur is going to remain the face of the New Jersey Devils. The 40-year-old goaltender who has led the team to three Stanley Cups, signed a two-year, 9 million contract Monday to stay with the only NHL club he's ever known. "At the end of the day, this is what I wanted all along," Brodeur said in a conference call. "Circumstances happen sometimes in life that I can't control, and I can't say it won't happen again, but I am happy, and two years seems appropriate for me maybe to leave the game at that time. But I am not 100 percent sure. Again, we'll how I feel and how well I am able to play." The key to the new deal was the Devils' eventual willingness to give him the extra year, Brodeur said. Adding the length of the contract was more important than the money because of the potential of a lockout this upcoming season. Two years provides stability and the assurance that he will have somewhere to play. Brodeur would not identify the teams that contacted him, though Chicago and Toronto expressed interest. When asked if he gave the Devils a discount, he noted there were offers from other teams that were much different than the one he signed. Hours after word of Brodeur's deal leaked, the Devils also announced that backup goaltender Johan Hedberg, 39, also signed a two-year deal worth 1.4 million per season. Both deals feature no-trade clauses. "We'll definitely bring stability to the back end," said Brodeur, the NHL's all-time winningest goaltender. "We've done that for the last year and a half, two years. It's nice to be able to count on somebody to be able to play well and that helped me to be fresh on the back end of the season. It's a nice setup." Brodeur posted a 31-21-4 record in the regular season with three shutouts and a .908 save percentage in helping the Devils make the playoffs after missing out the previous year for the first time since 1996. He was better in the postseason, recording a 14-9 mark with a 2.12 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage in leading sixth-seeded New Jersey to its first Eastern Conference title since 2003. New Jersey defeated the Panthers, Flyers and Rangers to advance to the finals before losing the Cup to the Los Angeles Kings in six games. Brodeur has posted a 656-371-105 career record with the Devils, winning Cups in 1995, 2000 and 2003, and has been a fixture for a franchise that had never been to a Cup final before he arrived. Admittedly, free agency was a new experience for him, as contract negotiations haven't often been a sticking point in his career. In fact, before he hired Pat Brisson last week, Brodeur used to represent himself at the bargaining table with Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello. "We talked to the Devils all along and the line of communication was always open," Brodeur said, adding he did entertain some offers before the Devils came through with the all-important extra year. "The Devils weren't ready for a little while to do that," he said. "When they were able to get it done, that made the decision pretty easy." Hedberg, a 1994 draft choice of Philadelphia, has a career mark of 155-133-33 with 21 shutouts and a 2.83 goals-against average in 354 games over ten NHL seasons. He played for Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Dallas and Atlanta before truly finding his way in New Jersey. He played in 27 games last season, posting a 17-7-2 mark with four shutouts and a 2.23 goals-against, and is quite comfortable as a reserve player at this point in his career. With the goaltending situation settled, the Devils now turn their focus left wing Zach Parise. The Devils captain is the top free agent on the market, and he told reporters Sunday that he may make a decision Monday. Parise was named captain before last season by new coach Peter DeBoer, and delivered 31 goals and 69 points in that role. Brodeur spoke with Parise several times on Sunday, and then again on Monday morning. He even planned a couple more calls if necessary. He also talked to Lamoriello about Parise while working on his own deal. "Zach is a priority of the Devils," Brodeur said. "You have to put pieces together to form a team, and he is a piece of it, like Hedberg is a piece of it. Zach is a franchise player at this stage of his career. We are definitely waiting impatiently for his decision and hopefully he is coming back with us." Parise deserves everything he can get in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Brodeur said. "I wasn't that much biased yesterday afternoon, but now I am a lot more for him to come back," Brodeur quipped, adding that Parise has indicated that the Devils are right in the mix on his short list. "By no means," Brodeur said, "is he not considering coming back."

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Las Vegas changes iconic welcome sign to include no capital letters

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Twitter/City of Las Vegas

Las Vegas changes iconic welcome sign to include no capital letters

The Washington Capitals official #ALLCAPS hashtag started in 2017 during a Caps-Penguins game after the Pittsburgh Penguins' official Twitter account decided to tweet in all lowercase letters during the game. 

Now, as the Caps look to face the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final ahead of Game 1 Monday, Vegas has followed suit by changing their iconic "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign to include only lowercase letters, a jab at the Capitals #ALLCAPS.

Additionally, the City's official Twitter account has changed their handle to "the city of las vegas" without any capital letters and the hashtag #nocaps.

It will be interesting to see how the Capitals' official Twitter will respond...

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: X-factors that could swing the series

Stanley Cup Final 2018: X-factors that could swing the series

The Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights have met only twice in their history. Neither team was expected to get to this point so you can go ahead and throw away the stats, the matchups, the data and the history. A new story will be written in the Stanley Cup FInal.

Who will ultimately win the Cup? Here are four factors that could ultaimtely swing the series.

1. Goaltending

The Caps have faced elimination only twice in the playoffs and Braden Holtby did not allow a single goal in either game. He enters the Stanley Cup Final having not allowed a single goal in 159:27. Andrei Vasilevskiy began to take over the series with his performance in Game 3, Game 4 and Game 5, but Holtby outplayed him to finish off the series in Washington’s favor.

Marc-Andre Fleury, meanwhile, has been the best player in the playoffs. Not the best goalie, the best player.

Through 15 games, Fleury has a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. As good as Vegas has been this postseason, Fleury has stolen several games for the Golden Knights.

Both of these goalies are certainly capable of stealing away a series for their respective teams. Which one will outplay the other?

2. Time off

Rust is a real thing in hockey. Just any team when they come off a bye week. When the Caps and Golden Knights take the ice on Monday, May 28, it will be the first game for Vegas since May 20. That’s over a week off.

Yes, getting rest at this time of the year is important, but too much rest leads to rust and that should be a major concern for Vegas, especially for a team that was playing so well and has so much momentum.

In the Eastern Conference Final, the Caps stunned the Tampa Bay Lightning by winning both Game 1 and Game 2 in Tampa. Could they do it again with a rusty Vegas team? Will the long layoff cost the Golden Knights one or even two home games to start the series?

3. The McPhee factor

Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee was the Caps’ general manager for 17 years starting with the 1997-98 season. He was fired in 2014, but was ultimately responsible for building the core of the Washington team that is now headed to the Stanley Cup Final.

But that also means he knows those players very, very well.

Nicklas Backstrom, Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky, John Carlson, Christian Djoos, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana, Tom Wilson, Braden Holtby, Philipp Grubauer and of course, Alex Ovechkin were all drafted by McPhee. Jay Beagle was also signed by as an undrafted free agent.

A general manager does not sign or draft anyone without knowing a good deal about the kind of player they are. Does that give McPhee a bit of an edge when it comes to facing the Caps?

4. Speed

The Golden Knights are fast. When the expansion draft was all said and done it was clear McPhee had targeted two things specifically: defensemen and speed. The result is an exceptionally fast Golden Knights team that no one has been able to keep up with so far.

Vegas' speed mixed with the goaltending of Fleury has proven to be a lethal combination. Their mobility makes it hard to get the puck from them or even keep it in the offensive zone. Once they get it, it’s going down the ice very quickly and you better keep up with them or it's going to end up in the back of the net. Once they build a lead, it is very difficult for teams to dig their way out as evidenced by their 10-1 record this postseason when scoring first.

Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh were both fast teams as well and the Capitals were able to combat that with strong play in the neutral zone. The 1-3-1 trap has given opponents fits and generated a lot of odd-man breaks for the Caps. Will it be as effective against a speedy Vegas team?

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