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Caps lose Game 5 heartbreaker


Caps lose Game 5 heartbreaker

NEW YORK Shocking. Devastating. Crushing.

Use your own adjective.

The Capitals were 6.6 seconds away from another gutsy one-goal victory when the walls caved in and changed the complexion of the Eastern Conference Semifnals.

With Joel Ward serving a four-minute high-sticking major, Brad Richards sent the game into overtime with a goal with 6.6 seconds left in regulation and Marc Staal won it just 1:35 into overtime to give the Rangers a 3-2 victory on front of a wild crowd at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers now hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series, which resumes Wednesday night at the Verizon Center.

Little-used center John Mitchell beat Matt Hendricks on a faceoff and won the puck back to Staal. With Brooks Laich and Hendricks converging on him Staal blasted a shot the deflected of Laich or Hendricks or both and sailed past Braden Holtbys outstretched glove before he saw it.

The Capitals were 6.6 seconds away from a 2-1 regulation win when Richards sent the game into overtime with a killer power-play goal.

It all started with 22 seconds remaining when Ward took a four-minute high sticking penalty on Carl Hagelin off a defensive zone draw. The Rangers already had pulled goalie Henrik Lundqvist and now had a 6-on-4 advantage.

On the ensuing faceoff, Richards beat Jay Beagle on the draw and defenseman Michal Del Zotto threaded a shot in on Braden Holtby. Ryan Callahan jabbed twice at the puck to keep it alive and just as Holtby was about to cover the puck Richards whacked it through him and off the right cross bar for his fourth goal of the playoffs.

Defenseman John Carlson scored a power-play goal 4 minutes, 20 seconds into the third period to give the Caps a 2-1 lead.

Carlsons goal came after Rangers enforcer Mike Rupp was sent to the penalty box for hooking Joel Ward on an offensive rush with Mike Knuble.

Carlson rotated along the blue line until Wideman spotted him in the high slot. Carlson blasted a rising slap shot that appeared to change direction when it deflected off the stick of defenseman Dan Girardi and into the top right corner of the net.

The Capitals went into hunker down mode after that as Matt Hendricks, Nick Backstrom, Joel Ward, Jay Beagle Karl Alzner, and John Carlson took turns blocking shots in front of Holtby until Ward took his penalty.

Despite being outshot 26-10 and thoroughly outplayed in the opening 40 minutes the Capitals managed to go into the third period in a 1-1 tie because of their penalty killing and Brooks Laichs wrists.

It was the ninth time in 13 playoff games the Caps entered the final period of regulation with the score tied.

The Caps penalty killers held the Rangers power play without a shot on three occasions as Roman Hamrlik high-sticking, Mike Green slashing and John Carlson delay of game took turns going to the sin bin.

The Caps fared no better on the man-advantage, failing to convert penalties to Michael Del Zotto in the first and second periods.

Laich kept the Capitals afloat when he turned a Brian Boyle turnover into his second goal of the playoffs and his first since Game 3 of the opening round against the Bruins.

Boyle couldnt handle the puck at his skates and Alex Ovechkin found Laich in the slot for a wrister inside the right post. It wad the fourth assist of the playoffs for Ovechkin, who in pre-game warmups took a scary spill into the boards when he was tripped up by backup goalie Michal Neuvirth.

The Capitals looked loose during the morning skate and played loose in their own zone in the opening period, allowing the Rangers to grab a 1-0 lead while outshooting them 17-4.

Anything that could go wrong for the Capitals did in that opening period. They were outhit 15-8 and beaten to almost every loose puck. Defenseman Dennis Wideman, who entered the game tied with partner Jeff Schultz with a team-worst minus-7, was victimized on the Rangers first goal, dipping both blue liners to minus-8.

Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman held the puck long enough to get around a sliding Matt Hendricks before snapping a bad-angle wrist shot from the right boards through the legs of Wideman and Braden Holtby for a 1-0 lead.

The puck appeared to tick off the inside of Widemans shin pad and although Holtby probably should have stopped the shot it was hard to blame the rookie, who was asked to stop 16 other shots in the period.

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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.