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Caps need Ovechkin to have a shot

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Caps need Ovechkin to have a shot

Sudden thoughts and second thoughts as the Capitals try to sort through the wreckage of Monday nights meltdown in Manhattan, where the Capitals saw a 2-1 lead with 6.6 seconds remaining in regulation turn into a 3-2 loss to the Rangers in overtime:

Waiting for Ovi: Alex Ovechkin took 25 shifts and played 19:08 but failed to record a shot in a playoff game for the first time since April 15, 2010 in Game 1 of a first-round series against the Canadiens. Ovechkin had gone 26 straight playoff games with at least one shot on goal.

Ovechkin recorded one assist and registered just two attempts at the net in Game 5. One missed and the other was blocked. He also delivered three hits, committed one turnover and blocked two shots.

Its not over yet, said Ovechkin, who leads the Caps in goals 4 and points 8 through 12 playoff games. Somebody had to win and somebody had to lose. Unfortunately, it was so close to victory, but not close enough.

Thisclose: Eleven of the Capitals 12 playoff games have been decided by one goal and six have been decided in overtime. Nine of their 12 playoff games have been tied after two periods and they are 3-6 in those games. Nine of the Rangers 12 playoff games have been one-goal games and four have been decided in OT.

On the bright side: The Capitals have not lost consecutive games since March 22 and 23. They are 5-0 following losses in the playoffs and 3-0 following overtime losses. Rookie goaltender Braden Holtby has gone 28 straight starts in the NHL without losing consecutive games.

Stand-up guy: In a classic example of bad things happening to good people, Joel Ward took full responsibility for Monday nights loss, calling his four-minute high-sticking penalty on Carl Hagelin terrible.

While many professional athletes in similar situations would have ducked the media, Ward sat at his locker stall and accepted the blame for the loss.

Were a few seconds from winning and it turns into an overtime loss just like that, he said. Its a little mentally disturbing when youre in that position and let the team down.

Trending down, staying up: The Capitals were outshot 38-18, outhit 29-14 and lost 57 percent of their faceoffs in Game 5 but many players were satisfied with the effort.

We know we should have won that game, so we have a good feeling in this room, defenseman Karl Alzner said. Its not like we got beat 5-0. Its something we should have put away.

Home performance: The Capitals are 2-3 at the Verizon Center during the playoffs. They are 1-0 in elimination games this spring, winning Game 7 in Boston after gaining a 3-2 series lead.

Game of inches: Nicklas Backstrom recorded just one shot, a breakaway attempt with about eight minutes remaining in regulation that went off Henrik Lundqvists arm and hit the crossbar. He also lost seven of 10 faceoffs.

Screen door: Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby said he saw nothing but white and blue jerseys on Marc Staals game-winning shot, which appeared to deflect off both Brooks Laich and Matt Hendricks, who fell after his faceoff loss to John Mitchell and was late confronting Staal at the point.

I didnt see a thing, Holtby said. Whether it had a lane or not Ill have to look at the video to see if I could have done a better job seeing around the traffic. Thats what happens when we play a style where we block a lot of shots. Sometimes they go in and it just happened to be in overtime.

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Ovechkin voted an NHL first-team All Star for the eighth time

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USA Today Sports Images

Ovechkin voted an NHL first-team All Star for the eighth time

Las Vegas always treats the Capitals well.

One year after winning the Stanley Cup at T-Mobile Arena, Alex Ovechkin was once again named a first-team All-Star at the annual NHL Awards ceremony and John Carlson took second-team honors. The event was held at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.  

The Pro Hockey Writers Association voted Ovechkin onto the first team for the eighth time – seven of those at left wing and one at right wing in 2012-13. He had 63 first-place votes and 459 total points to beat out Boston’s Brad Marchand (402) and Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau (324) at left wing. It is his first appearance on the first team, however, since the 2014-15 season. Ovechkin has four times been named to the second team.  

Carlson’s second-team selection was the best showing of his career. He received the third-most points (428). Only San Jose’s Brent Burns and Calgary’s Mark Giordano, the Norris Trophy winner as the NHL’s best defenseman, received more to garner first-team honors. Carlson finished fourth in the Norris Trophy voting. He was fifth in 2018. 

Ovechkin was seventh in the Hart Trophy voting for league MVP. He has won that award three times. He was presented with his eighth Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the NHL’s top goal scorer. Ovechkin had 51 goals in 81 games. No other player has led the league in goals eight times. His eight 50-goal seasons trail only Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy, who accomplished that feat nine times during their Hall-of-Fame careers.  

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5 things to know about the newest Capital Radko Gudas

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NBC Sports Washington

5 things to know about the newest Capital Radko Gudas

Most fans know little about Radko Gudas other than the fact that he has a reputation for being a dirty player. Here are some facts to help you get to know the newest Capital a little better.

1. Gudas has been suspended four times in his career

First the bad news. Gudas has a lengthy suspension history and is one hit away from getting a significant suspension from the Department of Player Safety. Here’s a look at all four of his suspensions:

Dec. 2, 2015: Check to the head of Mike Zibanejad, suspended two games

Oct. 10, 2016: Late check to the head of Austin Czarnik, suspended six games

Nov. 19, 2017: Slash to the head of Mathieu Perreault, suspended 10 games

Feb. 20, 2019: High-stick to the head of Nikita Kucherov, suspended two games

These plays are why Gudas has the reputation that he does.

Fans will want to compare Gudas with Tom Wilson, but really there is no comparison here. If you watch these plays from Gudas they certainly seem much more intentional than anything Wilson does.

The good news is that Gudas is working on playing a cleaner game.

“I worked on it in the summer and I thought I adjusted the game enough to still be able to play physical, just not be a liability out there for me team,” Gudas told reporters in a conference call on Tuesday. “It's always something hard to adjust, but we still have to do it. It's our job. If you don't hurt the team that you're playing for while doing it, that's where you can find (the line) as a player.”

This is not just lip service as Gudas’ penalty numbers have gone in each of the past three seasons, going from 116 in 2015-16 to 93, to 83 to 63 in 2018-19.

2. Gudas has had two fights against the Caps

Gudas has not been shy about dropping the gloves in his career and has done so twice against Washington.

The first instance came back on Nov. 11, 2014 while he was playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning. A scrum broke out after Eric Fehr barreled into goalie Ben Bishop and Gudas and Wilson became engaged leading to both players dropping the gloves.

The second fight came this past season. In a game between the Caps and Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 8, Gudas laid a big hit on Nic Dowd and Devante Smith-Pelly immediately came to his teammate’s defense. The fight was more of a tussle than anything else as neither player could get their hands free.

3. Gudas was voted as Philadelphia’s best defenseman in 2018-19

Now on to the good news. The Caps have actually gotten a good defenseman.

When it was announced that the Caps had traded Matt Niskanen for Gudas, the initial reaction was that Washington’s defense had gotten worse, but that was a necessary price to pay considering the team needed to clear cap space. That may not be the case.

Gudas had a very good 2018-19 season for the Flyers, so much so that he was given a team award as the most outstanding defenseman as voted on by sportswriters and broadcasters.

Did it help that pretty much everyone on Philadelphia’s blue line had a bad year? Yes, there is no denying that. Gudas is not the caliber player that he should be an NHL team’s best defenseman. But he is a lot better than most people give him credit for.

Make no mistake, this was not a simple salary dump by Washington. Brian MacLellan very shrewdly freed up some cap space by bringing in a defenseman who can play at a level that is just as good if not better than Niskanen can at this point.

4. Gudas has experience playing with Michal Kempny and Jakub Vrana

Gudas is from the Czech Republic and has some experience with some of his new Czech teammates. He and Kempny played on the U18 and 20 Czech teams together. Gudas and Vrana were teammates over the summer in the World Championships which Kempny could not participate in because he was injured.

“I played with a lot of the guys throughout the years that I play in the league, but with Michal, I used to play on the national team (with him),” Gudas said. “We're the same age. We played some important games together in youth. And with Jakub, I know him from the world national team a little bit now and I think we hit it off pretty well. Looking forward to work with them, too.”

5. Gudas is family with former Cap Michal Neuvirth

Neuvirth and girlfriend Karolina Gudasova had a baby girl in September 2017. As you can guess from Karolina’s last name, she is the sister of Radko thus making him the uncle to their girl, Emilka. Now Gudas is officially Neuvirth’s brother-in-law after Neuvirth and Karolina were married which led to hilariously random pictures like this.

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