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Capitals demolish Kings 5-0 as Philipp Grubauer gets 3rd shutout this season

Capitals demolish Kings 5-0 as Philipp Grubauer gets 3rd shutout this season

Final score: Capitals 5, Kings 0.

How it happened: Lars Eller finished a deft pass from Brett Connolly to stake the Caps to a 1-0 lead just a few minutes in, then Marcus Johansson’s 16th goal of the season put the Caps in control late in the first period.

Second period snipes from Connolly and T.J. Oshie extended the home team’s lead to 4-0, and backup goalie Philipp Grubauer took it from there.

What it means: The NHL-leading Caps are awfully good. The Kings came to Chinatown riding a five-game winning streak that included three shutouts. Brett Connolly and Co. hung five on them. Peter Budaj and his buds hadn’t given up five goals in 13 games. Budaj, by the way, only lasted 40 minutes, becoming the sixth goalie the Caps have chased in calendar year 2017.


Capitals goal: Eller’s goal opened the scoring at 3:16. The play began with Connolly threading a pass from the corner through Jeff Carter’s legs and right onto Eller’s tape. Eller, all alone in front of Budaj, deked the Kings goalie and kissed his shot off the goal post and in. Slick pass and a slicker move by Eller in front. Capitals 1, Kings 0. 

Capitals goal: Johansson’s 16th goal of season (but just his second in 18 games) put the Caps ahead 2-0 late in the first. Evengy Kuznetsov carried the puck into the zone with speed and dished to the trailing Johansson, who sniped a shot over Budaj’s blocker. The Kings goalie was distracted by Justin Williams, who had just cut through the crease, and Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin, who provided the perfect screen. Capitals 2, Kings 0.

Capitals goal: Wilson picked up a neutral zone turnover, raced into the Kings’ zone and fed the puck to Connolly, who outskated Anze Kopitar to the net and then beat Budaj. Capitals 3, Kings 0.

Capitals goal: Oshie put the game away late in the second period with a one-time that shattered Budaj’s water bottle. Oshie has six goals in his last nine games. As Ovechkin is fond of saying, “Google it.” If you haven’t seen Sunday’s snipe, it’s worth looking up. Capitals 4, Kings 0.

Capitals goal: Williams completed the scoring late in the third period, finishing a pass from Johansson. Williams now has 18 goals on the season. It was his first goal in five games. Capitals 5, Kings 0.

3 Stars:

1- Connolly. The third line winger had a goal and an assist. The goal was his 10th of the season—one more than he produced in 71 games with the Bruins a year ago.

2- Eller. The two-way centerman now has five goals in his last 10 games. 

3- Grubauer. Made a season-high 38 saves to post his third shutout of the season.

Look ahead: Sunday’s game opened a four-game home stand that precedes the Caps’ six-day bye week. The home stand continues to Tuesday against the Hurricanes, Thursday against Red Wings and Saturday against the Ducks. 

Tell us what you think: Alex Ovechkin was given a golden stick during a brief ceremony prior to the game to commemorate his 1,000th career point. How many points will the Caps’ captain have (ballpark figure) have when he retires? Remember, you need 1,591 to crack the top-10 all time. 

MORE CAPITALS: Oshie destroys Budaj's water bottle

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Now the Islanders' coach, Barry Trotz explains why he left the Capitals

Now the Islanders' coach, Barry Trotz explains why he left the Capitals

DALLAS — Hours after being named head coach of the New York Islanders on Thursday, Barry Trotz made his first public comments since stepping down in Washington earlier in the week.

And, from the sounds of it, his departure was mostly a business decision.

“Yeah, obviously, I love the D.C. area,” he told reporters on a conference call. “But when it came to the business aspect, from my standpoint, I felt that it wasn’t really sincere [given] what we did together. So I decided that it was better to just move on.”

“I thank the fans,” he added. “I’m glad we could get it done. I said we could get it done in four years, and we did.”

Although the value of his contract with the Islanders has not been publicly disclosed, Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Trotz is set to earn “at least $4 million” per year—or more than twice what he was earning in Washington.

A source told NBC Sports Washington earlier this week that Trotz, who directed the Caps to their first Stanley Cup two weeks ago, sought $5 million per season for five seasons. The five-year term, that source said, was a non-starter as far as the Caps were concerned, given the relatively short shelf life of NHL coaches and the fact that Trotz had already been in Washington for four seasons.

When it became clear that the sides weren’t going to close the considerable gap between their positions, Trotz offered to step down and the resignation was accepted, making the 55-year-old a free agent.

When “I got the [counteroffer], I guess I knew it was time to go in a different direction,” he said.

In New York, Trotz replaces Doug Weight, who was fired earlier this month along with GM Garth Snow. Lou Lamoriello, a longtime NHL executive, took over for Snow and immediately started a search for a new head coach.

Once Trotz became available, it didn’t take Lamoriello to zero in on the NHL's fifth all-time winningest coach. The two met, exchanged ideas and quickly realized that they had found a good fit in one another. Trotz said he's already reached out to the Islanders' star captain, John Tavares, who could become the biggest prize on the free agent market on July 1. 

And, like that, Trotz now is the coach of a Metropolitan Division foe. The Caps and Isles will face off four times next season, beginning with a Nov. 26meeting in New York.

It’ll be weird, for sure. But professional sports is a business. And all sides involved in the Trotz saga were served a painful reminder of that this week.

Asked if he felt wanted in Washington, Trotz said: “Well, I’ll leave that up to the Caps to answer that. I think, absolutely. We just won a cup together and so I don't think that was an issue. I think it was more principle.”

In the end, Trotz wanted to be compensated like one of the top coaches in the game. And now he will, settling in behind big market coaches such as Toronto’s Mike Babcock ($6.25 million per year), Chicago’s Joel Quenneville ($6 million) and Montreal’s Claude Julien ($5 million).

“It’s good to be wanted,” he said. “It happened really quickly because you go from one emotion of winning the cup to the next emotion of leaving the team that you just won the Cup with, and you have to make some quick decisions. I know the timing of it—end of the season, the draft coming up, free agency [and] all that—there was some urgency on that. Both parties knew that, so we went to work at it and got it done.”


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The NHL salary cap numbers are in, what does it mean for the Caps?


The NHL salary cap numbers are in, what does it mean for the Caps?

The NHL released the salary cap range for the 2018-19 season on Thursday. That sound you hear is the general managers frantically typing numbers into adding machines to figure out which of their players they can afford and which they are going to have to let walk.

The cap ceiling will rise from last year's $75 million all the way up to $79.5 million with the cap floor set at $58.8 million.

So what does this mean for the Capitals?

Here's a look at the team's pending free agents:

Unrestricted free agents: Jay Beagle, John Carlson, Alex Chiasson, Tyler Graovac, Jakub Jerabek, Michal Kempny, Anthony Peluso, Zach Sill, Wayne Simpson

Restricted free agents: Riley Barber, Madison Bowey, Travis Boyd, Adam Carlson, Philipp Grubauer, Tim McGauley, Liam O'Brien, Devante Smith-Pelly, Tom Wilson

We will not know exactly who will make the roster, so to project how much money the Caps will have to work with, let's assume Nathan Walker makes the team and Shane Gersich goes to the AHL. That will give the Caps a little less than $14.8 million with which to work.

Considering the team will need to use about half of that number if not more to re-sign Carlson, that's not a whole lot to work with.

Is $7 million enough to re-sign Beagle, Kempny, Bowey, Smith-Pelly and Wilson? Probably not and that does not even account for prospects who will try to compete for the NHL roster such as Barber and Boyd.

Here's what the cap ceiling tells us:

  • The team's entire offseason will depend on if the team can re-sign Carlson and for how much.
  • Carlson's cap hit last season was just under $4 million. A $4.5 million increase in the salary cap ceiling doesn't mean much when Carlson is going to get a raise of $3 million or more.
  • Grubauer will almost certainly be traded because he is an asset and because there won't be enough money for the team to commit $1.5 million or more to the backup goalie like they did last season.
  • If Carlson returns, fan favorite Beagle has almost certainly played his last game as a Cap. Everyone wants him back, but he would have to take a severe discount for the Caps to fit him and even then, he would be taking away a roster spot from a young prospect ready to make the jump to the NHL.

Free agency opens July 1.