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Capitals, Rangers too even to call after 3 games


Capitals, Rangers too even to call after 3 games

As he sat in the penalty box for what probably seemed closer to two hours than two minutes, Capitals 21-year-old right wing Tom Wilson contemplated the boarding penalty he had just taken early in the third period against New York Rangers left wing James Sheppard and prayed the Caps’ penalty killers would do their jobs.

“To be honest, that penalty could have cost us the game,” Wilson said on Tuesday, after a tense 1-0 win over the Rangers Monday night gave the Caps a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

“We’re up 1-0 and if they score on that power play, whether it’s a bad hit or not, I can’t put our team in that situation."

The Caps killed the penalty -- they are now 21 for 22 in the post-season -- and hung on for the win thanks to a 30-save effort from goaltender Braden Holtby.

“In the playoffs it’s a really fine line," Wilson said. "You want to play hard and leave your mark on those guys, but you can’t put your team down because one power pay could potentially lose us the game or the series.”

Indeed, that’s how close these two teams are as they battle for the right to play in the Eastern Conference finals.

Each of the Rangers’ five wins and each of their three losses in these playoffs has been decided by one goal. Five of the Capitals’s six wins and two of their four losses have also been by one goal.

“There isn’t any small moments in the game of hockey,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “Every moment counts. You never know what the difference is going to be.

“It’s gonna be a last faceoff. It’s gonna be just throwing the puck to the net from a certain angle. It’s getting a puck behind a defenseman versus trying to dangle him at an inappropriate time. It’s managing a game based on the time of the game. It’s discipline when you need discipline. Every moment counts.”

On Monday night, it was getting a Jay Beagle wraparound attempt to go off the back of Henrik Lundqvist’s skate and into the net.

“My goals are never how I draw them up,” Beagle said of his first goal of these playoffs. “It’s always just grinding it out and trying to create havoc in front and good things usually happen. Last series I got robbed a couple times, so it was nice to be rewarded.”

The Caps bubble wrapped that 1-0 lead and carried into the third period, which opened with defenseman Brooks Orpik getting slammed into the boards by a hard but legal body check from Rangers left wing Rick Nash, who has taken his share of body blows from Orpik in the first three games.

No penalty was called on the play, but when Wilson rammed Sheppard into the boards seconds later, he was sent to the box for what could have been a game-changing boarding penalty. It was the third straight game Wilson spent time in the sin bin. He was also called for roughing, along with Tanner Glass, in Game 1 and charging in Game 2.

On Tuesday Trotz was asked if he thinks Wilson is being targeted by the officials.

“No,” Trotz said. “I talked to Tom about that situation. There’s no need for him to make that hit. That was a situation for support, not for contact. He’s a young player. It was a penalty, in my opinion. He’s got to learn from it. That was a teaching moment for him.”

Wilson disagreed with the penalty and said it was not in retaliation for Nash’s hit on Orpik.

“I think the ref probably thought so,” he said. “I let up on my hit. I kind of rubbed him out. I don’t think it was a bad hit, but I probably shouldn’t even be going over there to make that hit.

“[Defenseman Tim] Gleason is right there. It’s not a bad body check by any means, but Brooksie got hit pretty hard. I don’t think the ref really saw it. If Brooksie doesn’t have a visor on he might have a cut on his face.

“It wasn’t a retaliatory thing at all. It was just trying to play hard and get hits. I tried to let up and the ref thought I went and hit him in retaliation to Brooks. I have to do a better job of making sure it’s not in the numbers and clean.”

He’ll get that chance in Game 4 Wednesday night at Verizon Center.

Fehr practices: Sidelined since Game 3 of the first round with an upper body injury, Caps center Eric Fehr took part in an optional practice on Tuesday but will not play in Game 4, Trotz said.

RELATED: [Jill and Chuck: Holtby was terrific in Game 3 win]

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2018 NHL Draft: Caps add 7 prospects, 4 from WHL


2018 NHL Draft: Caps add 7 prospects, 4 from WHL

The Caps made seven selections in the 2018 Draft this weekend. The group featured three defensemen, three forwards and a goalie. Interestingly, a couple of the picks have fathers who enjoyed lengthy NHL careers.

Meet the newest prospects:

1st round, 31st overall: D Alexander Alexeyev, WHL, 6'4", 196 pounds

The Caps' first first-round pick sine 2016, Alexeyev is a smart two-way defenseman with good size.

Read more on him here.

2nd round, 46th overall (from Florida, via New Jersey): D Martin Fehervary, Allsvenskan (Sweden), 6'2", 194 pounds

A physical style defenseman who is very strong in his own end, but does not have much offensive upside. Sort of a throwback style of play which makes him a surprise pick this high.

2nd round, 47th overall (From Colorado): F Kody Clark, OHL, 6'1", 179 pounds

Kody Clark boasts an NHL pedigree as the son of Wendel Clark, a first-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs who recorded 330 goals and 564 career points in 763 NHL games.

3rd round, 93rd overall: F Riley Sutter, WHL, 6'3", 203 pounds

Riley Sutter also boasts a strong NHL pedigree as the son of Run Sutter and nephew of Darryl Sutter.

Riley is a power forward who played alongside Caps prospect Garrett Pilon on the Everett Silvertips in the WHL and recorded 53 points in 68 games last season.

4th round, 124th overall: G Mitchell Gibson, NAHL, 6'1", 187 pounds

A Harvard commit, Gibson posted a 1.59 GAA and .935 save percentage in the NAHL last season.

6th round, 161st overall (from Vancouver): D Alex Kannok-Leipert, WHL, 5'11", 194 pounds

The Caps certainly saw something they liked in Kannok-Leipert as they traded up from 186 to get him. That pick, along with a sixth-round pick in 2019, went to Vancouver.

7th round, 217th overall: F Eric Florchuk, WHL, 6'2", 174 pounds

Florchuk was taken with the last pick of the draft.


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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson


GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

DALLAS—The Caps are “really close” to signing star defenseman John Carlson to a long-term extension, GM Brian MacLellan said Friday night.

“We’re getting closer,” MacLellan said following the first round of the NHL Draft. “Hopefully we can get it done here over the next few days. We’re really close.”

Earlier in the day, the Caps cleared significant space under the salary cap ceiling by trading Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round draft pick (47th overall). 

That space will now be used to lock up Carlson, who could become the best defenseman on the open market if he were to reach it.

MacLellan met with Carlson’s agent, Rick Curran, here on Thursday night.

MacLellan did not divulge any figures, but it’s expected that Carlson’s new contract could come in at eight years and $8 million per—or perhaps a bit more. 

He earned $4 million last season.

Carlson had a career year in 2017-18 and was critical during the Caps' run to the Stanley Cup. He led all defensemen in the regular season with 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists). The 28-year-old also skated a career-high 24:47 per game.

MacLellan has long said that re-signing Carlson was the Caps’ top priority this offseason. And now it looks like that could happen within days, assuming the talks do not hit any snags.

“We’re going to do our best to sign John,” MacLellan said. “We’ve said it all along. We waited until the end of the year. We’ve had discussions. We’re close and hopefully we can close the deal here over the next 24 hours.”