Capitals

Mavs suspend G West for 2nd time in 10 days

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Mavs suspend G West for 2nd time in 10 days

DALLAS (AP) Mavericks guard Delonte West was suspended Thursday for the second time in as many weeks for conduct detrimental to the team, putting his future in Dallas in doubt.

The first suspension lasted about a day, but a series of tweets by West soon after the team announced the latest suspension raised questions about whether he would return this time.

``Just dont kick me ... on the way out the door,'' West tweeted. ``I didn't do anything to deserve that.''

The last of several tweets in just a few minutes said, ``I'm just sittin here across from the arena wit tear in my eyes.''

West has bipolar disorder and addressed that topic in another tweet, saying ``no I'm not off my meds.''

After practice Thursday, coach Rick Carlisle refused to elaborate on West, referring to the release from the team announcing the suspension but disclosing no specifics about his conduct.

Donnie Nelson, the team's president of basketball operations, said only that the suspension was effective immediately and no other statements would be issued. The reason for the suspension was the same as the first one that came following an outburst in the locker room after a preseason game Oct. 15.

Carlisle informed players of the latest suspension before practice.

``We're losing a competitor. That's plain and simple. He's a competitor,'' veteran forward Vince Carter said.

When reached by ESPNDallas.com on Thursday, West said he was being blamed for an argument between teammates after the Mavs' 88-76 preseason loss to the Oklahoma City on Wednesday night in Wichita, Kan. He said he got a text Thursday morning telling him not to come to practice.

``There was an argument between two teammates in the locker room last night that didn't involve me,'' West told ESPNDallas. ``Somehow I'm being blamed for it. I had nothing to do with it. I don't know what's going on.''

Carter wasn't with the team for Wednesday night's game. He didn't know about the suspension until he got to practice and hadn't spoken to West.

``It's just a sensitive situation right now. It's not much I can say, I wasn't around to even know what's going on. It's unfortunate,'' Carter said. ``He's my friend, so I want the best for him, and you hope they work the situation out.''

Asked if the situation with West could be resolved quickly like the first one, Carlisle again said he wasn't commenting about the guard.

Players wouldn't go into detail about how the situation was explained to them by Carlisle.

``He said what he needed to say and it is what it is. ... Things happen we have no control over,'' said Shawn Marion, who like Carter remained in Dallas instead of playing in Wednesday's game. ``I like Delonte. He's got stuff he needs to work out with them (team management). ... We've still got to go on and focus on our task at hand.''

West's latest suspension came five days before the Mavericks open the regular season Tuesday night in Los Angeles against the Lakers.

The Mavs will start the season without Dirk Nowitzki, their 11-time All-Star who is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery. Chris Kaman, their other 7-footer, is dealing with a strained right calf that makes him questionable for the opener.

``All these things happen, these are part of everyday life in the NBA,'' Carlisle said. ``We've got a lot of veterans that have been through situations where there have been injuries and all kinds of different things. You've got to just. The bus keeps going, got to keep soldiering on.''

Instead of lamenting the players not available, Carlisle said his team was going to push forward with the ones they have.

West was suspended for the first 10 games of the 2010-11 season after pleading guilty to weapons charges in Maryland. Authorities say he was carrying three loaded guns and a knife when he was stopped for speeding on a three-wheel motorcycle in 2009.

West was a valuable role player for Dallas last season, even starting 33 games as the backcourt struggled with injuries before he was sidelined himself by a broken finger.

The Mavericks' backcourt grew crowded in the offseason, though. Darren Collison was acquired from Indiana and is expected to start at point guard. O.J. Mayo, a shooting guard, signed as a free agent from Memphis and could be counted on heavily for scoring while waiting for Nowitzki's return.

West played in all seven preseason games, averaging 5 points and 2 assists while playing nearly 18 minutes a game. The eighth-year pro was close to his career averages with the Mavericks last year, at 9.6 points and 3.2 assists.

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Caps’ dominant power play comes through yet again in win over Rangers

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Caps’ dominant power play comes through yet again in win over Rangers

It seems so simple. The Capitals have one of the best goal-scorers of all-time in Alex Ovechkin and on the power play, he’s almost always in the same spot. He sets up in the “office,” the faceoff circle on the left side of the ice, and waits for one-timers. Everyone knows the Caps are trying to get him the puck, everyone knows the shot is coming.

But nobody can stop it.

“It’s still pretty unique,” Matt Niskanen said after the game. “Basic logic tells you it’d be easy to stop, but it’s not.”

Even Ovechkin has no explanation. “It’s all about luck,” he said.

New York Rangers head coach David Quinn had another word for it.

“Sickening.”

Quinn’s Rangers were the latest victims of a power play that has been among the league’s best units for several years. Since 2005, no team in the NHL has a better power play percentage than the Capitals’ 20.8-percent. They once again look lethal this season with the unit currently clicking at an incredible 39.1-percent.

Ovechkin tallied two power play goals Wednesday, both from the office, to help power the Caps to a 4-3 win over New York. Both of Ovechkin’s goals looked pretty similar with John Carlson on the point feeding Ovechkin in the office for the one-timer.

Ovechkin obviously is what powers the team’s power play. With him on the ice, other teams need to account for him at all times.

But the real key to the Caps’ success with the extra man is not Ovechkin, but the other weapons around him.

“In order to completely take [Ovechkin] away other guys are just too open and they’re good enough to score,” Niskanen said. “Are you gonna leave [T.J. Oshie] open in the slot from the hash marks to cover [Ovechkin]? Our power play is set up well with what hands guys are and their skill sets so we have a lot of different options. Guys are good at reading what’s open. It’s pretty lethal.”

“Nobody knows who's going to take a shot when we play like that,” Ovechkin said. “And it's fun to play like that, to be honest with you. When [Nicklas Backstrom] and when [Evgeny Kuznetsov] feeling the puck well, they can find you in the right time and the right place -- same as [Carlson]."

With so many weapons on the power play, teams are forced to choose between playing Ovechkin tight and leaving other players like Kuznetsov and Oshie wide open, or trying to play a traditional penalty kill and risk giving Ovechkin too much room for the one-timer.

The Rangers chose the latter on Wednesday and they suffered the consequences.

“I don't think many teams have played him like they did tonight,” Carlson said. “They gave him a lot more space.”

And Carlson certainly took advantage as well.

Washington’s power play seems to have found a new gear now with the emergence of Carlson. He took his game to a new level last season and he seems to have picked up right where he left off. On Wednesday, as part of a three-point night for him, Carlson provided two brilliant setups for Ovechkin on the power play.

“He dominates the game, I think,” Niskanen said of Carlson. “Moves the puck well, skates well for a big man, can defend. He’s got that offensive feel for the game and offensive touch. Big shot. He’s a good player.”

For many years, it looked like the only thing missing from the Caps’ power play was Mike Green. Carlson has always been good, but no one was able to setup Ovechkin quite as well as Green was in the height of the “young guns” era of the Caps. Now that Carlson seems to be coming into his own as a superstar blueliner who can both score and feed Ovechkin with the best of them, that makes an already dominant Caps’ power play even more lethal.

That was certainly on display Wednesday as the Caps fired eight shots on goal with the extra man. Ovechkin’s two goals tie him for ninth on the NHL’s all-time power play goals list with Dino Ciccarelli at 232.

Even with Ovechkin now 33 years old and after several years of dominance with the extra man, the Caps’ power play may be better than ever.

“They don’t get rattled,” Quinn said. “There’s a confidence to them and a swagger to them, which they should have.  They’ve been playing together a long time and they’re the defending Stanley Cup champions, so they should play with a swagger.”

 

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5 reasons the Capitals beat the Rangers in overtime

5 reasons the Capitals beat the Rangers in overtime

The Caps gave up a 2-1 and 3-2 lead, but ultimately came away victorious on Wednesday in a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers thanks to an overtime goal from Matt Niskanen.

Here are five reasons why the Caps won.

1. Djoos saves a goal

With the Caps already trailing 1-0 in the first period, they were about an inch away from going down by two. Luckily, Christian Djoos was there to make the save.

Yes, Djoos, not Braden Holtby.

A diving Jesper Fast got to a loose puck before any of the Caps defenders and beat Holtby with the shot. Djoos, however, was there to sweep the puck off the goal line and out, saving a goal.

That play turned out to be a two-goal swing as less than two minutes later, the Caps scored to tie the game at 1.

2. Carlson off the faceoff

The Caps emphasized the importance of the faceoff this week and worked on it specifically in practice on Tuesday. That practice turned out to be very prescient as Washington’s first goal of the night came right off the faceoff.

Nicklas Backstrom beat Ryan Spooner on the draw cleanly in the offensive zone, feeding the puck back to John Carlson. With the players all bunched up off the draw, Carlson benefitted from Brady Skjei standing right in front of Henrik Lundqvist. Carlson teed up the slap shot and beat Lundqvist who never saw the puck.

Of the five combined goals scored in the game, three were directly set up off a faceoff.

3. Hand-eye coordination

With the Caps on the power play, Fast tipped a pass meant for Carlson that looked like it was headed out of the offensive zone. Carlson reacted to the puck then stretched the stick and somehow managed to control the bouncing puck and keep it in the zone.

Fast charged Carlson at the blue line so he chipped the puck to Ovechkin in the office. Ovechkin managed to hit the puck just as it hit the ice and somehow beat Lundqvist with the shot.

Ovechkin was by the boards at the very edge of the circle. It was an amazing shot and it was set up by the great hustle play from Carlson. Both showed tremendous hand-eye coordination to control that puck.

4. Braden Holtby

Lundqvist entered this game with a 1.99 GAA and .939 save percentage, but he was outplayed by his counterpart from Washington.

Holtby had himself a night. He was particularly strong down low with the pads as he made a number of key pad saves throughout the game, particularly in the second period when he recorded 17 saves including a shorthanded breakaway save on Kevin Hayes as time expired.

Of the three goals Holtby allowed, the first he made a great save on Chris Kreider who looked like he had an empty net to shoot at. Mike Zibanejad would score on the rebound. The second goal came as a shot deflected off Devante Smith-Pelly and went right to Jimmy Vesey for an easy tap-in. The third was a deflection goal from Kreider to redirect a shot that was going wide.

Can’t blame Holtby for those.

5. Working from the office

The Caps had three power play opportunities on the night. They scored on two of them and those two goals looked pretty darn similar.

There was the one described above in which a hustle play by Carlson at the point kept the puck alive and he fed to Ovechkin in the office. The second goal came with Carlson on the point feeding Ovechkin in the office.

Those two goals give Ovechkin 232 power play goals for his career, tying him with Dino Ciccarelli for ninth on the NHL’s all-time list.

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