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Bettman: Full season 'not going to be a reality'

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Bettman: Full season 'not going to be a reality'

One day before his self-imposed Thursday deadline to salvage an 82-game regular season, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman acknowledged on Wednesday that a full season “is not going to be a reality.”

Bettman was in Brooklyn on Wednesday for the Islanders’ announcement that they will be moving to the new Barclays Center for the start of the 2015-16 season. He addressed the NHLPA’s assertion that he is refusing to meet with union executive director Don Fehr to discuss alternative ways to end the NHL’s lockout.

“We said to them that we are prepared to meet if you want to discuss our offer or you want to make a new offer,” Bettman told reporters. “They have no inclination of doing either so there’s really no point in meeting at this point.”

Bettman also made it clear that when he made his 50-50 proposal to the players on Oct. 16 it was in the spirit of salvaging a full NHL season that would begin by Nov. 2. Now that that deadline is about to pass, he suggested the NHL’s next offer might be worse.

“The fact of the matter is there are just some times you need to take time off because it’s clear you can’t do anything to move the process forward,” Bettman said, “and we’re at one of those points right now because we gave our very best offer.

“And that offer, for better or for worse, was contingent on playing an 82-game season. So I think things actually in some respect might get more difficult.”

In street language, that’s not just a threat, it’s a promise.

Bettman is clearly playing hardball with the players and if Thursday goes by without an agreement – and you can bet it will -- the next step for the NHL is to cancel games through the first week of November.

The next deadline facing the NHL is likely to be Nov. 20, reportedly the drop dead date for the NHL to salvage the 2013 Winter Classic at Michigan.

“I remain the eternal optimist that, hopefully, something will get done,” Bettman said. “We are all obviously disappointed that things are where they are. But until we’re in a situation where the union is interested in making a deal to provide us with an agreement that will give us the long-term stability we need, there’s not much we can do.

“You can’t dance by yourself.”

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

The Eastern Conference Final is going the distance!

After losing three straight to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Capitals won Game 6 to force a Game 7 in Tampa Bay. Can the Caps beat the Lightning one more time and advance to the Stanley Cup Final?

JJ Regan, Tarik El-Bashir and special guest cameraman Mike D break it all down.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Due to schedule and time constraints, this podcast was recorded by phone and the audio quality is not up to our usual standards.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Caps push Lightning around in Game 6 with physical game plan

Caps push Lightning around in Game 6 with physical game plan

As the NHL continues to focus more on speed and skill, the Capitals took a very old-school approach to Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. From the moment the puck dropped until the clock hit zero, it was clear Washington came into Monday with a very physical game plan.

"It made a big difference," T.J. Oshie said. "I think in these games, everyone’s bringing energy and you kind of want to control that and direct it towards some positive play, some momentum building for your team, and tonight I think we handled that and did that pretty well."

"We just wanted to throw everything we had at them," Stephenson said. "It was a do or die game and we don't want our season to end."

It worked.

The scoresheet officially credited the Caps with 39 hits for the game. The Lightning had only 19. The physical play seemed to wear down Tampa Bay as the game went on.

After an even first period, Washington took a 1-0 lead in the second. Then, very fittingly, a physical fourth line extended that lead to 2-0 in the third to finish the Lightning off.

"All of a sudden now we turn a puck over, you’re back in your end, they’re feeling it, they’re being physical, crowd’s behind them and we’re spending way too much time in our D zone," Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said. "That’s what hurt us."

What made it so effective was the fact that the entire team bought into it. Alex Ovechkin was certainly the most noticeable player as he threw himself around like a wrecking ball against everyone wearing a white jersey. But it was not just his line. Tom Wilson and Brooks Orpik each led the team with six hits, Devante Smith-Pelly recorded five of his own while Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom both had four.

The Lightning faced a constant barrage from the Caps from every line and defensive pair. There was no respite.

The hits also gave the fans plenty to cheer for.

The Caps were playing an elimination game at home and Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy was standing on his head. Even with the score locked at 0-0 through the first period, the crowd was still very much into the game. There was no apprehension, there was no quiet tension. There was just a loud crowd cheering on its team.

"[The fans] were loud right from the start, which I think we fed off of and wanted to give them something back," Brooks Orpik said. "We didn't get a goal early. I think some of the physical play kind of helped carry that. They were great for us."

Now in the third round of the playoffs after six intense games between the Caps and Lightning, the hope is that Game 6's physical play will continue to take its toll on Tampa Bay heading into Game 7.

"We need to do that every game," Nicklas Backstrom said. "That's our forecheck. Hopefully, we can keep it going here in Game 7."

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