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Brian MacLellan talks buyouts, salary cap and his first year with Caps

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Brian MacLellan talks buyouts, salary cap and his first year with Caps

Capitals first-year general manager Brian MacLellan met with reporters for close to 30 minutes on Monday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. In Part Four of his state of the team, he gives his thoughts on his first year as general manager, what he expects from Brooks Laich and whether signing Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen to lucrative contracts was worth the risk.

On picking 22nd overall in this year’s NHL draft and the Caps’ ability to find players in the bottom 10 of the first round like John Carlson [27th in 2008], Marcus Johansson [24th in 2009], Evgeny Kuznetsov [26th in 2010] and Andre Burakovsky [23rd in 2013]:

A good amateur staff. [Assistant general manager] Ross Mahoney and [amateur scout] Steve Bowman and their staff have done a good job. They find players late in the first round that have turned into good players. Ross has been doing it for a long time and he’s been successful at it. You’ve got to give him credit for all those guys.

On how his first year as general manager of the Caps has gone:

Has it been a year? It’s been a whirlwind, it’s flown by, warp speed. It’s been fun. (pause). Sorry. It’s satisfying to see where we’ve come to the end of the year. To see the guys at the end of the Islanders series, it’s good. There’s a sense of accomplishment. There are a lot of things. To see where the players have come, how much fun they have. It’s fun to watch. I don’t know about vindication. It’s satisfying. There’s an empty feeling after the New York series, there’s a hole to fill there, but I feel we’re on the right path.

On if he anticipates any buyouts:

I don’t, but you never know.

On the NHL salary cap:

I think there’s a little but of insecurity there. The league says we’re going to be somewhere between $70 and $71 million. I think most of our projections are planned on that, but down deep you’re a little insecure it might come in lower so you hope it doesn’t, but we’ll plan to leave it a little bit of room in case it does.

On Brooks Laich, who has two years and $8 million remaining on his contract, with a $4.5 million cap hit:

I don’t know if there is an answer. I don’t think he’s happy with the year he had. I had a year-end meeting with him and we want the two-way Brooks Laich playing. Contributing offensively, scoring goals, making playing, and the defensive part. I think he did a good job on the PK and the defensive role, but I think we need more out of him to be a successful team.

On last summer’s free-agent signings of defensemen Brooks Orpik [5 years, $27.5 million] and Matt Niskanen [7 years, $40.25 million]:

I think they’ve added a lot to our organization both on and off the ice. Most of the ext interviews, guys commented on that right away, what they’ve brought in both dimensions. So I’m happy. I didn’t want to pay that much money, either. But it’s UFA season. It was a risk but so far it’s worked out. 

MORE CAPITALS: Top 10 moments of the Caps' season

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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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