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Boudreau wants the Caps to do well...unless they meet the Wild in the final

Boudreau wants the Caps to do well...unless they meet the Wild in the final

LOS ANGELES—Bruce Boudreau lives and coaches 1,000 miles from Verizon Center these days, but he readily admitted on Saturday that he still keeps a very close eye on the Capitals.


A couple of reasons. For one, Washington holds a special place in his heart because it was his first stop as an NHL head coach. And second, he currently coaches the Wild, who sit just behind the NHL-leading Caps in the league standings.  

“[The Caps] are the best team in the league,” Boudreau told CSN at All-Star media day. “I’m sure Barry [Trotz] doesn’t want me to say that. They’ve been like that and they’ve had that stigma put on them for as many as seven or eight years. But when you watch them play, except for a couple of hiccups, they blow teams out of the water.”

“The one thing you notice about [the Caps] is, any other team you play except maybe for Pittsburgh, you can make mistakes and sometimes get away with it,” Boudreau continued. “Against the Caps, you make a mistake and you’re paying for it. They've got a lot of great players and that’s what happens with great players—they do great things.”

One of those great players is Alex Ovechkin, who was named one of the NHL’s greatest 100 players on Friday night. Boudreau attended the ceremony and beamed with pride when Ovi’s name was announced.

“I was very proud,” Boudreau said. “I got to coach him for over four years. It’s a great thing to tell your grandchildren and children, that you’ve been able to coach one of the greatest players of all time. And I’m sure when it’s all said and done, he’s going to be in the top-5 greatest players of all time. He’s in that conversation.”

He added, “I was lucky.”

Luck, however, has nothing to do with where the Caps and Wild find themselves at the all-star break. Both teams have rattled off long winning streaks. Washington ranks first in goal differential (+54) and Minnesota is second (+51). The teams are also 1-2 in the NHL standings, with the Caps up by three points on the Wild.

Washington and Minnesota play twice in the span of 11 days in March.

MORE CAPS: Ovechkins ready to 'chill' in Los Angeles

A lot could change between now and then, but as things stand today, Boudreau believes both have a good chance of making a deep run this spring.

Asked if he’s ever daydreamed about facing the Caps in the Stanley Cup final, the 62-year-old coach nodded.

“I do,” said Boudreau, who spent four plus season in Anaheim before being hired in Minnesota. “But I’ve done that for a few years and it hasn’t worked.”

Boudreau also acknowledged how weird a Bruce vs. the Caps final would be.

“On the other hand, I don’t want to play them,” he said. “I think it would be too difficult because I want them to win and I want us to win.”

“Some of the guys on that team that I’ve made great friends with that are still there, I want them to have success,” he added. “But I wouldn’t want them to have success against me. It’s a real double-edged sword. But I think both teams right now have got a shot. Those guys look like, okay, they were the favorite last year and they lost and they’re playing like that’s never going to happen again. And we’re the young upstart team that’s never been in that situation. We’ll go as far as we go, and hopefully in May or June, one of us has a lot great success.”

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'He's a heart-and-soul guy:' Capitals begin to process Oshie injury after Game 4 loss

'He's a heart-and-soul guy:' Capitals begin to process Oshie injury after Game 4 loss

RALEIGH — T.J. Oshie shuffled out of the Capitals locker room, hunched over, half dressed, his face a mask of anguish and pain, his right arm pinned against his body. 

He made it to the X-ray room at PNC Arena on his own, two medical staffers at his side, moaning as he entered to learn his fate. Moments later, his teammates came off the ice at that same spot, 2-1 losers to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 4 of a Stanley Cup playoffs first-round series. 

Players clomped past in various states of frustration and distress. Nicklas Backstrom smashed his stick against a wall and, when it only half broke, finished it off with one last theatrical whack. 

It was a perfect summation of Washington’s visit to Raleigh, where it arrived with a 2-0 series lead and left tied 2-2 with a critical Game 5 back home at Capital One Arena on Saturday. 

Oshie will not be with them. He will be out “for quite some time,” said Capitals coach Todd Reirden. Carolina forward Warren Foegele nudged Oshie from behind as both skated near full speed and he crashed hard into the boards in Washington’s offensive zone. 

Oshie yelled out in pain and lay on the ice for several minutes. He was helped off the ice and Foegele received a two-minute penalty for boarding. That did not sit well with Oshie’s teammates, who failed to score on the power play. They thought the play deserved more – a major penalty, for sure, and supplemental discipline by the NHL Department of Player Safety. They didn’t get the five minutes. They might get a suspension when the league looks at the play.   

“It was a defenseless player that was quite a distance from the boards,” Washington coach Todd Reirden said. “It’s an extremely dangerous play and (Oshie) will not be with our team for a while.”

Added captain Alex Ovechkin: "Did you see that? What did you think? I was on the ice, I watched the puck, so I didn't see what happened there, but if you think it's not a dirty play, you have to watch it again."

The frustration was understandable. Oshie had 25 goals in 69 games this season. He missed 11 with a concussion in November before returning. On Thursday, he’d moved up to the top line with Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom and he’s been a staple on the second line much of the season. He is as skilled a player as there is on the Capitals and has a goal and an assist in the series. 

“It’s always tough. He plays the game so hard,” goalie Braden Holtby said. “He’s a heart-and-soul guy. I have no idea what it is or whatever. But the thing with [Oshie] is no matter what he’s going to find a way to have a positive impact on our team - whether in or out. It doesn’t matter. He’s a leader and he’s a guy that guys want to fight for.”

Carolina didn’t agree with the Capitals, of course. Foegele called it “an unfortunate play” where he was just trying to lift Oshie’s stick and he lost an edge and careened into the boards. It doesn’t matter now. With the series now even, Washington will have to build on a much better game than it played Monday night in a 5-0 loss, but without one of its best players. On Friday they can begin figuring that out. On the plane ride home Thursday night they were still trying to process what happened to Oshie. 

“We have all those meetings. GMs make meetings with referees and watch the video and it's two minutes?” Ovechkin said. “We're players and we have to go out there and play, but those guys have to make a decision. They can't be afraid. If the guy hurt, it's a dirty play, it has to be not two minutes. It has to be different call."


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'He barely hit him': Rod Brind'Amour finds a way to downplay T.J. Oshie injury

'He barely hit him': Rod Brind'Amour finds a way to downplay T.J. Oshie injury

The Capitals were incensed by Warren Foegele’s shove to the back of T.J. Oshie in Game 4 on Thursday that sent Oshie dangerously into the boards and knocked him out of the game. Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour, however, does not know what all the fuss is about.

“You see a lot of hits that are way, way worse than that,” Brind’Amour told the media after the game.

Oshie entered into the offensive zone with the puck and Foegele came in on the backcheck. Oshie had a good position on the puck, blocking Foegele out with his back. Foegele responded with a cross-check to the back of Oshie that knocked him over face-first awkwardly into the boards. Oshie appeared to strike the boards with his right shoulder and was doubled over in obvious pain as he slowly made his way off the ice.

Ovechkin was so angry that he followed Foegele and continued yelling at him after he went into the penalty box.

But Brind’Amour did not see it as a dirty play.

“I think [Oshie] just went in awkward,” Brind’Amour said. “I don't know the extent of the injury or whatever. Barely hit him I thought, really. He gave him a little shove, but it certainly wasn't what we've been seeing out here.”

In fact, Brind’Amour did not think a penalty was going to be called at all until Oshie stayed on the ice.

“There wasn't a penalty being called and then obviously he crashed into the boards hard and that's when the arm went up because he stayed down,” Brind’Amour said. “You don't like to see that, but I think more than anything he just was not ready for the hit.”

For those of you keeping track at home, Brind’Amour took issue with two consenting players fighting one another, but a cross-check to the back leaves a guy doubled over in pain and, well, he just was not ready for the hit.


Of course, you can file this away under, “What is he supposed to say?” It’s not as if Brind’Amour would come out and bury his own player for an illegal hit. He is going to defend his guy. Having said that, there were probably better ways to handle the injury of an opposing player rather than diminishing it quite as much as Brind’Amour seemed to.

“We've got way more injuries than they do,” Brind’Amour said. “I don't worry about their team.”