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Caps Summer Series preview: Top playoff moments in Caps' history

Caps Summer Series preview: Top playoff moments in Caps' history

Do you feel like the summer is too long to go without hockey? So do we!

To give you your hockey fix and to pass the time from now until the start of next season, CSN proudly presents the Caps Summer Series, a series of four episodes that will broadcast on CSN in July.

The first episode, Top Playoff Moments in Team History, will air on Saturday, July 15 at 7 p.m. (channel finder). Check out the teaser clip above!

To get you ready, here are the favorite playoff moments from Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir and Capitals correspondent J.J. Regan.

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El-Bashir: I’ve been fortunate to cover a lot of playoff hockey over the years. I’ve seen thrilling overtime wins. And, yes, a few gut-wrenching Game 7 defeats, too. But the game I’ll talk about until the day I die occurred May 4, 2009 at Verizon Center. That’s right, the dueling hat tricks by back-to-back league MVPs Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, the game’s biggest stars at the height of their popularity. I’ll never forget how the building erupted after each of Ovechkin’s two third period goals—the first on the power play from his office—or Crosby hitting the pause button the manic celebration when he batted his own rebound out of midair and past Semyon Varlamov with 30 seconds remaining to pull the Pens within a goal. At times, Varlamov was the only thing standing between the Penguins’ captain and five or six goals. Ultimately, the Caps held on for a 4-3 victory. They also seized a 2-0 series lead. As a beat writer, nothing is more stressful than a night playoff game that features multiple, late momentum swings. There’s so much to capture and so little time to conduct interviews and type. On that night, though, there was no pressure. The game story wrote itself. I also recall filing my piece to The Washington Post with a huge smile on my face while thinking, “I’ll never see anything like that again.”
 
Regan: I have not been covering the Capitals professionally for nearly as long Tarik, but I have been following this team my entire life. Despite their unfortunate playoff history, I do have many fond memories of great playoff moments. I was in college watching Game 7 against the New York Rangers in 2009 with my roommate. A Rangers’ fan who lived in our house came into our room to trash talk and the moment he stepped in, Sergei Fedorov scored the go-ahead goal. He turned around and walked out without saying a word while my roommate and I went berserk. I was in a bar for Game 7 against the Boston Bruins in 2012. When Joel Ward scored I literally jumped out of the booth. All the Caps fans started jumping up and down together in the middle of the bar. The first game I covered professionally was Game 1 against the New York Islanders in 2014. Every playoff game since has been an incredible thrill. But nothing will compare to May 25, 1998. It was Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Buffalo Sabres. Matthew Barnaby tied the game at 2 with less than a minute remaining in the third period and began taunting the crowd. As a kid, it felt as if my world was falling apart. There is no justice, Santa Claus isn’t real, the Tooth Fairy is a fraud, nothing will ever be OK again. I wasn’t the only one who saw Barnaby, however. The Caps bench saw it too and the team was fired up to play in overtime. My faith in humanity was restored when Todd Krygier scored just 3:01 into overtime to win the game. It is the only conference final game the Capitals have won in Washington. That game is of course overshadowed by Joe Juneau’s overtime winner in Game 6, but not to me. To me, Game 2 is the greatest playoff moment I have ever experienced.

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Capitals' T.J. Oshie had so much fun golfing, drinking through shirt again at celebrity golf tournament

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Capitals' T.J. Oshie had so much fun golfing, drinking through shirt again at celebrity golf tournament

Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo may have won the American Century Championships celebrity golf tournament this weekend, but T.J. Oshie definitely had the most fun.

Using the Modified Stableford scoring format for the tournament — which included several pro and retired athletes, such as Steph Curry, Aaron Rodgers, Larry Fitzgerald, Carson Palmer, Charles Barkley and Joe Pavelski — Oshie finished with 11 points, tying for 48th with NFL Hall of Famer Tim Brown and Golf Channel host Lisa Cornwell. 

But the Capitals' winger's score didn't really matter because Oshie was out on the Lake Tahoe golf course in Nevada just having fun with his family and continuing the epic celebration as a new Stanley Cup champion. Obviously, that meant playing and chugging a beer through his t-shirt as 'We Are The Champions' played.

His brother, Taylor, was his caddy, and at one point, Oshie borrowed his brother's beer helmet while putting. He sunk it, and it was amazing.

Yeah, Oshie had a great weekend. Here's a look at some other moments from his weekend on Lake Tahoe.

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Key Caps questions: How will the Caps look different under Todd Reirden?

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Key Caps questions: How will the Caps look different under Todd Reirden?

The dog days of summer are officially here, but it's never too hot to talk some hockey.

Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir and Capitals correspondent JJ Regan are here to help you through the offseason doldrums. They will discuss key questions facing the Caps for the upcoming season as Washington prepares to defend its title for the first time in franchise history.

Today's question: How will the Caps look different under new head coach Todd Reirden?

Tarik: It’s an important topic, but let’s not overthink this one. Since winning the Stanley Cup on June 7, the organization has pretty much telegraphed EXACTLY what it hopes will occur in 2018-19. Consider:

  • Todd Reirden was promoted after spending four years as Barry Trotz’s assistant, including the last two years as an associate coach with an expanded role. Reirden already knows everyone, from the players to the trainers and other support staff. He knows what buttons to push and when to push them. There’s a built-in comfort level and trust that should allow everyone to hit the ground running in September.
  • Four of Reirden’s assistants are holdovers, too. The one newcomer, Reid Cashman, is joining the group from Hershey and is a Reirden disciple. So, no adjustment period there, either.
  • Assuming restricted free agent Tom Wilson re-ups (and that would seem to be a very safe assumption), the Caps are bringing back 11 of the 12 forwards that were on the ice for Game 5 in Las Vegas. They’re also bringing back five of six defensemen. And the starting goaltender. Chemistry is a hard thing to explain and/or quantify. But you know when a team has it. And the Caps had it at the end of last year.

So if you look at what GM Brian MacLellan has been doing in recent weeks—and have been listening to what Reirden has been saying publicly—you can only come to one conclusion. The decision-makers feel they discovered the right mix of personnel and systems play at the end of the playoffs, from the defensive structure to special teams. In fact, they were first in goals per game, second-best on the power play and the fourth stingiest team in the postseason.

“Many of my [philosophies] were involved in how we were going to play, how our team was going to look, the identity that we had,” Reirden said on The Junkies recently, referring to last year’s game plan. “So, from a systems standpoint, I would say not much is going to change, at least initially, just because it seemed to work. …You’ll see much of the same.”

That doesn’t mean Reirden won’t make adjustments. He will because he’ll have to over the course of an 82-game regular season and, hopefully, another long postseason run. But it does underscore the fact that the foundation upon on which last year’s championship team was built is going to look awfully familiar. And that's clearly by design.

JJ:  The message from the Caps ever since Reirden was promoted to head coach has been one of consistency as they try to make a seamless transition to the new head coach. In that sense, we probably won't see many changes at all to start the season.

The Capitals just won the Stanley Cup and general manager Brian MacLellan worked to bring almost the exact same roster back for next season. Coming into the locker room saying there's a new sheriff in town and making drastic changes is not the way to go here

But that doesn't mean Reirden will do things the same way.

Reirden has coached at the college, AHL and NHL level. He has seen firsthand how Dan Bylsma won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins and how Trotz did it in Washington. He also saw what didn't work.

Reirden got to this point by developing relationships with the players. He is much more of a players' coach than Trotz and that will be evident in training camp. I also expect there will be a much greater emphasis on development. Trotz famously said to the media that the NHL was not a development league, but a performance league. I expect Reirden to take a different approach.

After failing to win with veteran-laden teams, the Caps finally hoisted the Cup last season after getting significant contributions from young prospects such as Jakub Vrana, Chandler Stephenson, Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey. Like it or not, the Caps' core will not last forever. Every year those players like Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson get another year older. I do not believe a coach who is as good at reaching players and developing them as Reirden is will be quite as reluctant to reach down onto the farm and sprinkle youth throughout his lineup whenever the team needs a spark.

It should not be lost on anyone that one of Reirden's new assistant coaches this year will be Reid Cashman, promoted from being an assistant with the Hershey Bears in the AHL. This is all good news for players like Lucas Johansen, Jonas Siegenthaler and Connor Hobbs, the team's three best defensive prospects who are hoping to have an impact at the NHL level sooner rather than later. The Caps roster is pretty loaded, but at the very least you can expect Reirden to have a hand in helping those players along at training camp.

Ultimately, the product on the ice is going to look almost exactly the same at the start of the season with the biggest changes coming off the ice. We won't see who Reirden is as an NHL coach, however, until we let the full 82-game season play out.

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