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Breaking down Capitals' 2012 draft


Breaking down Capitals' 2012 draft

PITTSBURGH Want to get to know the Capitals 10 draft picks a little better?

The following are capsules on the players selected by the Capitals, along with some analysis from Ross Mahoney, the clubs director of scouting.

Round 1 11 Filip Forsberg, C, 6-1, 188, Leksand, SwedenNoteworthy: Split the season between Leksand and its junior team, totaling 8 goals, 9 assists in 43 games. Won silver medal at the 2011 World Under-18 Championships, recording 4 goals, 2 assists in six games. Models his game after Peter Forsberg, but is not related.
Maloneys take: One of the better prospects in this years draft. Very fortunate he was there for us.

Round 1 16 Thomas Wilson, RW, 6-3, 205, Plymouth, OHLNoteworthy: Recorded 9 goals, 18 assists and 141 penalty minutes and a plus-17 rating in 49 games for Plymouth during an injury-plagued (sprained MCL, broken knuckle) season. Added 7 goals, 6 assists in 13 playoff contests. Voted Best Body Checker in the OHLs Western Conference Coaches Poll.
Maloneys Take: A big strong forward, a power forward. More skill than people give him credit for.

Round 3 77 Chandler Stephenson, CLW, 5-11, 190, Regina, WHLNoteworthy: Helped Regina make the playoffs for the first time in four years, recording 22 goals and 20 assists despite missing 14 games with an injury. Named the Pats Most Sportsmanlike Player. His cousin, Joey Kocur, won three Stanley Cups (Detroit: 1997, 1998 and NY Rangers: 1994). Other cousins Shay Stephenson (198th overall in 2003 by Carolina) and Logan Stephenson (35th overall in 2004) by Phoenix) play in the KHL.
Mahoneys take: Smart player, very good hands, can score, can move the puck, good skater, very good athlete.

Round 4 100 Thomas Di Pauli, C, 5-11, 188, US-18, USHLNoteworthy: Born in Italy near the Austrian border, Di Pauli and his family moved to Illinois when he was 13 to allow him to develop his hockey skills. He speaks four languages: English, Italian, Spanish and German. Recorded 10 goals, 10 assists in 51 games for the U.S. Under-18 team and was used primarily in a checking role.
Maloneys take: Honest player, skates well. Has skill, can play the penalty kill and shutdown roles. High character.

Round 4 107 Austin Wuthrich, RW, 6-1, 190, Notre Dame, CCHANoteworthy: Teammates with Thomas Di Pauli on U.S. Under-18 team and will attend Notre Dame with Di Pauli next season. Both are attending summer classes. Finished the regular season with 7 goals, 10 assists in 36 games.

Round 5 137: Connor Carrick, D, 5-11, 185, US-18, USHLNoteworthy: From Orland Park, Ill. Recorded 7 goals, 11 assists in 53 games for U.S. Under-18 team.

Round 6 167 Riley Barber, RW, 5-11, 194, US-18, USHLNoteworthy: From Pittsburgh. His father, Don, was selected 120th overall in 1983 by Edmonton and went on to play in the NHL for Minnesota, Winnipeg, Quebec and San Jose between 1988-89 and 1991-92.

Round 7 195 Christian Djoos, D, 5-11, 158, Brynas, Sweden-Jr.Noteworthy: Split time between three different teams from Brynas this season, totaling 8 goals 29 assists in 48 games.
Maloneys take: Needs to get strong, but very intelligent, good hands, moves the puck very well.

Round 7 197: Jaynen Rissling, D, 6-4, 223, Calgary, WHLNoteworthy: Recorded 5 goals, 18 assists in 55 games for Calgary. Risslings uncle, Gary, signed with the Caps in 1978 before being traded to Pittsburgh in 1981. Gary Rissling played 221 games in the NHL, amassing 1,008 penalty minutes. Jaynens dad, Kelly, played in the Western Hockey League (Portland, Lethbridge) and International Hockey League.
Maloneys take: Good skater, more of a physical player.

Round 7 203 Sergei Kostenko, G, 5-11, 187, Novokuznetsk-2, Russ-Jr.Noteworthy: In 19 games for Novokuznetsk, recorded 3.41 GAA and .884 save percentage.
Mahoneys take: Very athletic, very competitive, played well for Russias Under-20 team.

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George McPhee's Vegas Golden Knights advance to Stanley Cup Final


George McPhee's Vegas Golden Knights advance to Stanley Cup Final

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Ryan Reaves scored the winning goal, Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves and the Vegas Golden Knights pushed their remarkable expansion season into the Stanley Cup Final, beating the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 on Sunday in Game 5 of the Western Conference final.

Alex Tuch also scored for the Knights. They lost Game 1 in Winnipeg before winning four straight to become the first expansion team since the 1968 St. Louis Blues -- when the six initial expansion teams were put alone in the West -- to get to the final.

Vegas will meet the Tampa Bay Lightning or the Washington Capitals in the final. Tampa Bay leads the Eastern Conference final 3-2, with Game 6 set for Monday night in Washington.

Josh Morrissey scored for the Jets, and Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves.

Reaves, the bruising Winnipeg native acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins before to the trade deadline in February, snapped a 1-1 tie with 6:39 left in the second period when he tipped Luca Sbisa's point shot past Hellebuyck for his first goal of the playoffs.

Winnipeg got a power play early in the third, but couldn't muster much of anything. The Knights smothered much of the Jets' attack for the next 10 minutes, with Hellebuyck having to come up with big stops on William Karlsson and Eric Haula to keep his team within one.

The Jets pressed with under 4 minutes to go, with Fleury stopping captain Blake Wheeler on the doorstep, but it wasn't nearly enough as the Knights closed out their third straight series on the road.

The Jets beat the Knights 4-2 in Game 1, but Vegas snatched home ice with a 3-1 victory in Game 2 before picking up 4-2 and 3-2 wins at T-Mobile Arena.

The Knights, whose jaw-dropping inaugural 109-point campaign included a Pacific Division crown, swept the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, and knocked out the San Jose Sharks in six games.

The Jets had the NHL's second-best record with 114 points in the regular season. They advanced to the first conference final in city's history with a five-game victory over the Minnesota Wild in the opening round before topping the Presidents' Trophy-winning Nashville Predators in Game 7 on the road.

The usual raucous, white-clad crowd at Bell MTS Place -- not to mention the thousands of fans outside the arena attending a street party on a sun-drenched spring afternoon -- were silenced just 5:11 into Game 5 when Tuch jumped on Morrissey's turnover and fired his sixth past Hellebuyck.

The Jets were tentative to start and it got worse after the opener as Vegas dominated the next couple of shifts, forcing some good saves from Hellebuyck before Winnipeg got its feet moving.

After being outshot 7-1 in the first 7 minutes, the Jets finally pushed back and turned the tide with the next nine attempts on goal, culminating with Morrissey making amends for his early gaffe with 2:46 left in the period.

Bryan Little won a faceoff in the offensive zone straight back to second-year defenseman, who blasted his first career playoff goal past Fleury's glove.

One of Winnipeg's downfalls in the series through four games was an inability to maintain momentum. The Knights scored within 1:28 of a Jets' goal in each of the first four games -- a crushing 12 seconds after Winnipeg tied Game 3, and an equally gut-wrenching 43 seconds after the Jets knotted Game 4 -- but they managed to take the game to the locker rooms tied 1-1.

Both teams had chances in the second period before Reaves made it 2-1, with Jets center Mathieu Perrault just missing on a pass from Little that had too much speed.

Right after Reaves scored the second playoff goal of his career -- and first since 2015 with St. Louis -- Winnipeg's Nikolaj Ehlers rang a shot off the post on Fleury.


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The Lightning are matching their 4th line against Ovechkin...and it’s working

The Lightning are matching their 4th line against Ovechkin...and it’s working

When the starting lines were announced on Saturday, you may have been surprised to hear Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson were starting against Chris Kunitz, Cedric Paquette and Ryan Callahan.

Because the game was in Tampa Bay, the Capitals had to give their starters first. That means Lightning coach Jon Cooper saw the Caps’ were starting their top line and decided to put out his fourth.

And it worked.

On Saturday, Paquette scored just 19 seconds into the game and Callahan scored 33 seconds into the second period. Ovechkin’s line did not manage a shot on goal for the first two periods of the game. Ovechkin did finally score, but it came late on a six-on-five with Braden Holtby pulled and it was not against the fourth line.

The fourth vs. Ovechkin matchup is something the Lightning began in Game 2. No three forwards have played more against Ovechkin at five on five in any game since Game 2 than Kunitz, Paquette and Callahan. Prior to Game 5, they matched up against Ovechkin around six to seven minutes per game. On Saturday, however, Cooper went all in.

At five on five play, Kunitz was on the ice against Ovechkin for 13:04, Paquette for 13:42 and Callahan for 13:46. The results speak for themselves as that line outscored Ovechkin's 2-0. In fact, for the series Ovechkin has produced six points and only two of them have come at five-on-five play.

A fourth line vs. a top line matchup is a risky move because it takes time away from your top offensive playmakers. You typically see top lines face each other or a first line against a second line because, when you line match you are letting the opposing coach dictate how much your own players play. With a fourth line matchup getting essentially top line minutes, that takes time away from players like Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos.

If you look at the five-on-five time on ice for Game 5, Kucherov skated 14:06 and Stamkos 13:37 while Kunitz was on for 14:00, Callahan for 14:45 and Paquette for 14:57.

It is a risky move, but it makes sense for the Lightning. Through four games, the Capitals were the better team five-on-five, but Tampa Bay’s power play was unstoppable. Using the fourth line is a good strategy for Cooper in situations like in Game 3 and Game 4. The Lightning slowed Washington’s five-on-five production and Stamkos and Kucherov still produced enough on the power play even with reduced minutes. It also works for games like the one we saw Saturday.

In a game like Game 5 when your team jumps out to a 3-0 lead, you can afford to roll your lines even if it means giving the fourth line more minutes than the first.

You would think a fourth vs. first matchup would give the Capitals a distinct advantage, but it has not worked out that way. The fourth line has been able to stifle Ovechkin and Co. enough and the Lightning's power play has made up the production lost by the first line's reduced minutes. When the fourth line can score two goals of its own, well, that's just an added bonus.

Ovechkin has to lead his line to a better performance in Game 6. If the Caps’ top line can’t get the better of the Lightning’s fourth, then this series will be over on Monday night.