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Caps excited for chance to close at home


Caps excited for chance to close at home

As they try to bury the bitter taste of Friday night’s 2-1 overtime loss in New York , the Capitals are trying to draw on the fact that they still lead their second-round series against the Rangers and are one good game away from moving on to the Eastern Conference Finals.

You have to go back to March 11th and 13th to find the last time the Capitals lost two games in a row and all the way back to late February to find the last time they lost three in a row.

That, combined with the fact they’ve won five straight games at Verizon Center , has them confident about closing out the series in Game 6 Sunday night in Chinatown.

“I don’t think there’s any panic,” Capitals right wing Jason Chimera said after coach Barry Trotz canceled practice on Saturday in favor of a video session. “If you said before the series we’d be up 3-2 with a chance to win it at home you’d take that probably 100 percent of the time.

“It’s a good opportunity again. They play well in their barn. They showed why they’re a world class team, because it’s tough to close them out. But there’s not a sense of worry. You’ve just got to be ready to go.”

Throughout the playoffs, Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby has been the Caps’ backbone, responding to every playoff defeat with a victory the following game. In fact, he has a career record of 10-2 in playoff games that follow playoff losses, including  1-0 shutout of the Rangers in Game 3 in Washington.

“Our goalie doesn’t like to lose,” Chimera said. “He takes it personally and he wants to show everybody it starts with him. We feed off that.”

The Caps have also won five straight playoff games at Verizon Center, where they are hoping their crowd can infuse the energy needed to get off to a better start than they did in Madison Square Garden on Friday night, when they were on their heels for most of the first period and needed a superb effort from Holtby to keep the game scoreless..

“You always hear about home ice being an advantage,” Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik said.  “I think the crowd helps you out in terms of energy. Maybe you’re more relaxed because you’ve been there so often. It’s something we’ve talked about all season long, being tough to play at home and hopefully that’s the case.”

Hindsight being 20/20: After reviewing the Curtis Glencross giveaway that led to Ryan McDonagh’s game-winning overtime goal on Friday night, Trotz noticed two mistakes. The first was Glencross’ ill-advised pass intended for Brooks Laich.

The second was Laich’s decision to leave the ice immediately after Jesper Fast intercepted Glencross’ pass, forcing Nicklas Backstrom to join the backcheck after McDonagh had already moved into position to score.

“You just gotta move your feet,” Trotz said of Glencross’ pass. “Glenny can make a better play, he can make a more deliberate play. He can move. Standing still and trying to make a play is not a good idea in the playoffs.

“And we made a bad change. The guy that ended up scoring was [supposed to be defended by] the guy that was standing right in front of our bench [Laich]. That’s not the time to change when you turn the puck over like that.”

History lesson: Yes, fans remember the Capitals being in this position five years ago against the Montreal Canadiens. But Mike Green brought up the Caps were also in this position last week, when they failed to close out the New York Islanders in Uniondale, but delivered a 2-1 knockout punch in Game 7 at home, holding the Isles to just 11 shots.

“We had a chance to close a team out [in Game 6] and we responded with a really good next game,” Green said. “We take pride in that. We’ve done the things we needed to do as far as rest and active warmups. Now it’s just a matter of re-setting the mind and getting ready for tomorrow.

“We’ve responded well in times like this. That’s why it’s a seven-game series. We’re excited for tomorrow’s challenge.”

Quieting Ovi: Thanks to the suffocating play of McDonagh and Dan Girardi, Alex Ovechkin has gone three games without a goal against the Rangers. He has not gone four games without a goal since early December.

“They do a good job,” Trotz said. “They have a couple defensemen that do a good job and a line that’s been watching him closely. You hear coaches say your best players need to be your best players, but you need everybody.”

With the final line change on Sunday, look for Trotz to get Ovechkin out against the Rangers’ third defense pairing of Keith Yandle and Dan Boyle.

“You can’t keep a guy like that down for long,” Chimera said of the Caps’ 29-year-old captain. “They’re going to go in eventually. I have no doubt that he’s going to score a big goal for us tomorrow.”

[MORE CAPITALS: After crushing loss, Caps look to feed the right wolf]


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Alex Ovechkin and wife Nastya Ovechkina welcome baby boy

NBC Sports Washington/USATSI

Alex Ovechkin and wife Nastya Ovechkina welcome baby boy

After lifting the Stanley Cup just over two months ago, something else very exciting has happened in Alex Ovechkin's life.

Saturday morning, Nastya and Alex Ovechkin welcomed their first child, a baby boy named Sergei, after Ovechkin's late brother. 

Ovi spent this week practicing at the Florida Panthers' facilities with other NHL players living in the surrounding area.

After the Cup's visit to Moscow, Nastya and Alex settled down at their apartment in Miami, staying put and preparing for the birth. 

The couple were married two years ago but didn't hold an official ceremony until July of last year. The celebration was as lavish as you'd expect.

She revealed her pregnancy shortly after the Cup victory, and has kept us up to date on life this summer via Instagram. A few weeks ago, the Ovechkins graced HELLO! Russia magazine, showing off Nastya's baby bump among their glamour shots.

💛 @aleksandrovechkinofficial #hello #hellorussia @hello__ru

A post shared by Nastasiya Ovechkina (@nastyashubskaya) on

Congratulations to Ovi and Nastya, and all our best wishes for health and happiness!


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Capitals draft pick admits he is...a Flyers fan


Capitals draft pick admits he is...a Flyers fan

Say it ain't so.

Mitchell Gibson is the first goalie the Capitals have drafted since Ilya Samsonov in 2015, but they may be thinking twice about their selection after a recent shocking interview.

Gibson spoke with a local Philadelphia CBS station and revealed that both he and his family...are Flyers fans.

Insert dramatic music.

"I think my family will always be Flyers fans in their hearts and I guess I will be a little bit," Gibson admitted, hopefully with guilt in his voice.

Gibson was selected by the Caps in the fourth round of the 2018 draft, but clearly the scouts did not do their homework. It's as if Gibson grew up a hockey fan in a place like Phoenixville, Pa. (about an hour outside of Philadelphia) without anticipating the future that he may one day be drafted by a rival team like Washington.

Shame, shame.

The young netminder tried to make up for his horrifying admission later in the interview.

"The Capitals are definitely treating me well right now so I would like to be their goalie," he said.

A likely story.

Gibson is only 19 and set to begin his first collegiate season at Harvard in 2018 so at least there is still time for Gibson to overcome his shameful past. And hey, it could always be worse. At least he's not a Penguins fan.