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Brouwer on Ovechkin: 'He's gotta learn'

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Brouwer on Ovechkin: 'He's gotta learn'

NEW YORK -- On Sunday, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin implored his linemates to get him the puck with speed so that he could create more scoring chances against the New York Rangers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

If I want to have scoring opportunities they have to give me the puck at full speed in the neutral zone, Ovechkin said, because in the offensive zone its harder because they have Dan Girardi and another guy Ryan McDonagh on me.

On Monday Ovechkins two linemates implored Ovechkin to generate his own speed and exercise more patience.

Troy Brouwer and Brooks Laich will team up with Ovechkin on the Capitals top line tonight at Madison Square Garden, where the Capitals are hoping to even their best-of-seven series after falling 3-1 in Game 1. Both said theyd like to see Ovechkin tweak his game.

Hes got to come back to the defensive zone to get more speed, Brouwer said. He cant be so impatient to get into the offensive zone. Hes got to make room for himself out there. We can only do so much. He cant bottle himself up and wait for that long stretch pass with no speed. Hes got to come back and come with us as a unit.

Brouwer said Ovechkins bulrushes down the left wing have become too predictable and too easy to defend. In Game 1, Ovechkin had four of his five attempts either blocked or go wide of the net. Brouwer said its because defensemen stand him up at the blue line and force him to shoot from bad angles.

Hes gotta learn, Brouwer said. You see all the time he comes down the left side and those D-men are standing right up on him and he doesnt have much of a play. Hes got to learn hes got to come back and give himself a little more space, a little more speed and hell have more scoring opportunities.

Laich said creating speed through the neutral zone is all well and good, but Ovechkin also needs to be patient enough to play a dump-and-chase game that allows the line to generate a cycle and wear down the Rangers defensemen.

Ideally, you want to get flying through the neutral zone, but it doesnt always happen like that, Laich said. Especially now when its pretty tight. Sometimes you have to stay patient and go up the wall with the puck and chip it in and forecheck and create your opportunities. Its not going to be all night where were flying through the neutral zone.

Ovechkin took several line rushes from the right side on Monday but Brouwer said hed be surprised if Ovechkin didnt wind up back on the left side tonight.

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Despite late penalty, Todd Reirden doesn’t want to see Nathan Walker change his game

Despite late penalty, Todd Reirden doesn’t want to see Nathan Walker change his game

The Caps looked like they were in good shape in the third period on Wednesday. With a 3-2 lead in the final frame against a New York Rangers team that had played the night before, Washington looked like they were starting to wear down the blue shirts and tilt the ice in their favor.

But everything changed just before the midway point of the period.

Nathan Walker, in the lineup for the first time since Oct. 4, chased down Neal Pionk behind the Rangers net as Pionk went to collect the puck. Walker put his arms around the Rangers’ defenseman to slow him up and he was called for holding.

“That was the safest thing possible for me to do is to wrap him up and take him in the corner like that,” Walker said to NBC Sports Washington on Friday. “Personally, I didn't think it was a good call on the ref's side, but that's the way it goes.”

Just over a minute later, Chris Kreider deflected a shot that was going wide past Braden Holtby for the power play goal to tie the game at 3.

A third period mistake that tied the game from a player in and out of the lineup could have been a devastating moment for Walker, but head coach Todd Reirden was adamant after the game that he did not want Walker to lose his aggressiveness or change the way he plays as a result of Wednesday’s mistake.

“I insert him to be aggressive and his intensity was something we needed,” Reirden said. “I thought he won a lot of puck battles earlier in the game and at different points. He's pursuing the puck trying to force a turnover and it ends up as a call against. That's I think a tough call in that situation, but we're able to pick him up and if there's a guy on our team that we want to rally around and try to come back for, it's someone like that with a work ethic and just commitment and dedication and how he is as a teammate.”

Luckily for Walker, the Caps were still able to get the win thanks to Matt Niskanen’s overtime goal. Those were nervous moments for him watching as the team tried to overcome his mistake.

“It's definitely nerve-wracking for sure,” Walker said. “You kind of feel like you're the reason why they got back into the game. I personally thought we were all over them in the third period up until they got that goal. I think we still played really well, but obviously the play with the lead is a lot nicer than playing tied up 10 minutes to go in the third. It was nerve-wracking, but it was good that the guys came through and we got the two points at the end of the day so that's the main thing.”

The fact that Walker’s mistake did not end up costing the team will make it easier for Reirden’s message to sink in. It’s his aggressiveness that makes him valuable. One mistake should not make him change that aspect of his game.

Said Reirden, “It's something that if he stops hunting pucks and creating havoc up ice then he's just a very average player that's going to find himself in and out of the league.”

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Capitals vs. Panthers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Capitals vs. Panthers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Washington Capitals (3-2-1, 7pts) are coming off of an overtime thriller at home over the Rangers thanks to Matt Niskanen's crafty timing.

Through the first six games of the season, Washington is undefeated on Wednesdays, yet has failed to win consecutive games. The Caps hope to change that trend Friday night at home vs. the Florida Panthers (0-2-2, 2pts).

The Panthers have yet to win a game this season, with each of the four games being decided by just one goal. The Panthers have no problem scoring, netting at least five goals in two of the first four games, but have failed to seal the deal. This is where the defending Stanley Cup champions will need to capitalize.

Only the Maple Leafs (33) and Hurricanes (33) have scored more times than the Capitals (24). Washington has a clear advantage in firepower. The biggest key to victory is keeping the space in front of Braden Holtby clean as a whistle. If the Caps control their goalmouth, they should have no issues dispatching the Panthers.

Here is everything you need to know about the Friday night game, which takes place at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington. 

CAPITALS-PANTHERS GAME: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Florida Panthers

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: Friday, October 19, 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals-Panthers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

Live Stream: Watch Capitals vs. Panthers on the NBC Sports Washington live stream page and the NBC Sports MyTeams App.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS-PANTHERS TV SCHEDULE:

6:00 PM: Caps FaceOff Live
6:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live
7:00 PM: NHL: Florida Panthers at Capitals 
9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live
10:00 PM: Caps Overtime Live

CAPITALS vs. PANTHERS INJURY REPORT:

Capitals: Travis Boyd (OUT, IR), Tom Wilson (OUT, Suspension)

Panthers: Michael Haley (OUT, Leave of Absence), Roberto Luongo (OUT, MCL injury), Mike Matheson (OUT, Suspension) 

CAPITALS vs. PANTHERS PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Evgenii Dadonov, W, Panthers: Dadonov is leading the Panthers this season with two goals and two assists on the season.

John Carlson, D, Capitals: Carlson had a heck of a game vs. the Rangers Wednesday night with a goal and two assists. The Capitals worked on faceoffs in practice leading up to Wednesday night's game and all of the hard work paid off with Carlson's goal coming right off the faceoff from Backstrom. 

CAPITALS vs. PANTHERS SERIES HISTORY

Number of all-time Meetings: 123

All-Time Series Record: 64-50-9

Playoff Record: N/A

Last Meeting: Panthers beat Capitals 3-2 (2/22/2018)

Last 10 Meetings: Tied 5-5 

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