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Caps Summer Series: Top 5 moments to cover from the season

Caps Summer Series: Top 5 moments to cover from the season

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 second episode, Top 5 of '16-'17, premieres Saturday at 8 p.m. (channel finder). Check out the teaser clip above!

To get you ready, here are the five best storylines to cover from the 2016-17 seasons from the perspective of Capitals correspondent J.J. Regan.

Capitals snap Columbus’ 16-game win streak
January 5, 2017

 
There are points over the course of an 82-game season when things can get a little dry. It starts to feel that way in January and February, but a big matchup between the Capitals and Blue Jackets added a spark to the midseason doldrums. Columbus was the hottest team in the NHL riding a 16-game win streak into Verizon Center. There was buzz around this game and the eyes of the NHL were on Washington. The Caps played one of their best games of the season in a 5-0 win. The buildup to this game made it incredibly exciting to cover and, at least for the local media, it lived up to the hype. I was not sure exactly what to expect from Washington at this point, but they certainly exceeded my expectations and it proved to be the start of an incredibly dominant run in January and February.

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Alex Oveckin scores his 1000th point
January 11, 2017

 
The majority of big news items are unexpected. Sometimes it's an injury, sometimes it's an unexpected performance by an unexpected player. Then there are times when you know something newsworthy is about to happen. I don’t know why, but I find those moments to be more stressful even though you write most of the story ahead of time and you have a plan in place for how to publish and promote it once the news does happen. I guess it’s because you feel like something is hanging over your head and you just don’t know when it is going to drop. After a three-point performance against the Montreal Canadiens, Ovechkin sat just one point shy of his 1,000th point heading into a rivalry game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. A rivalry game is already big, but the fact that Ovechkin could get to 1,000 at any point over the course of the next 60 minutes added to the buzz surrounding the game. We had the story written up, we had a plan ready to go for when it happened, we just had to wait for it. But we didn’t have to wait for very long. Ovechkin scored against the Caps’ archrivals just 35 seconds into the game. If the roof had blown off of Verizon Center after that goal, I would not have been surprised. Not only was I witnessing hockey history, but damn he made it look incredible.
 
Washington’s 8-7 OT loss in Pittsburgh
January 16, 2017

 
There is no debate as to what the most exciting game of the regular season was. Just one night before, the Caps had blown out Philadelphia 5-0 and the @CSNCapitals account gained some notoriety for trolling our friends at @CSNPhilly.
 


 
I wish I could take credit, but this was the work of one of our social media gurus, Dan Martin, who is also responsible for the glorious “Dearest Abigail.”
  
When the Caps went up 3-0, against Pittsburgh, I decided to get in on the action and I sent this tweet out:
 

 
Boy did that backfire, as you can tell by the comments. That game turned into one of the craziest games of the season as Pittsburgh scored five straight. Washington had to score twice just to force overtime. It also included one of the worst interpretations of the goalie interference rule I have seen since the review was put in place. Apparently, as long as the defense pushes a player down, that player has free reign to do whatever he wants to a goalie and it won’t count as interference. Who knew?
 
Tom Wilson shuts up Mike Babcock with OT winner
April 13, 2017

 
The lead up to a playoff series is long enough that coaches can be asked anything and everything by the media. That was evidenced by the fact that Toronto head coach Mike Babcock was fielding questions about Tom Wilson. Even more surprising is the fact that Babcock responded honestly saying, “Nothing against [Wilson], because he works hard and all that, but he’s not as big of concern as a lot of people on their team.”

Washington had to battle back from a 2-0 deficit to force overtime in Game 1 against the Maple Leafs. Playoff overtime is phenomenal, but it’s a little different for the media. You have to have be ready for the game to end at a moment's notice and for either team to win meaning you have to have two different stories written and ready to publish. This can mean a very long, long night. I will be honest, as great as overtime is just about everyone in the media is cheering for a quick goal so we can get our work done and get home sometime before 3 a.m. And then the goal is scored at just 5:15 into the overtime…by Wilson. Because of course it was. An overtime game that ended the game early scored by the one player Babcock had dismissed before the game? Jackpot.
 
Sidney Crosby suffers a concussion after Matt Niskanen’s hit
May 1, 2017

 
Games 1 and 2 of Washington’s series against Pittsburgh did not go well. Down 2-0 heading into Game 3 it looked like the series was over. And then Crosby went down. I was not in Pittsburgh and was watching the game at the CSN studio in Bethesda. I saw the hit on TV, but did not realize at first that all hell was about to break loose until the camera panned back to Crosby on the ice. Crosby is down? Crosby with the history of concussions is down after a hit to the head? Wow. First, you hope the player is okay and then your journalistic mind starts spinning. We have got to get that video. I have to write this up. What does this mean for the game? What does this mean for the series? Had I just watched the last shift of Crosby’s career? After seeing the first two games, I was among those who considered the series to be over, but if Crosby is out that could change everything. All the implications of that moment made it the biggest story in the NHL. It sparked a lot of intrigue and a lot of lunacy from people who believed the Caps went into the game wanting to take out Crosby. The Caps' win that night was secondary to what Crosby’s injury meant for his own health and for the series.

MORE CAPITALS: Should Caps look to the trade market for upgrades?

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How to watch the IIHF World Championship Finals: Date, Time, TV Channel, Lineups

kucherov_russia_donskoi_usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

How to watch the IIHF World Championship Finals: Date, Time, TV Channel, Lineups

The 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship is coming to a close this Memorial Day weekend.

After two weeks, the sixteen team field has been narrowed down to four with the world championship now on the line in Slovakia. 

The two group winners, Canada, the top-ranked team in the world and 26-time IIHF Champions, and Russia, who rolled through the group stage with a 7-0 record and a +29 goal differential, are the favorites. Russia overwhelmingly has played like the best team in Slovakia, outscoring its opponents 40-10 behind Nikita Kucherov's 16 points in eight games.

The Russian/ Soviet Union team is the only team with more titles than the Canadians with 27 (five as Russia, 22 as the Soviet Union). 

Washington Capital Alex Ovechkin is playing for Team Russia. In eight games he's scored two goals and recorded an assist. 

Canada will face off against the Czech Republic, whose only loss came against the Russians in group play, with a spot to the Finals on the line. Russia will play Finland for the last spot in the gold medal match.

Three of the four teams remaining (Russia, Canda, and the Czech Republic) are the winningest teams in the IIHF's history. The four semifinalists have combined to win 67 of the 82 IIHF World Championships.

When is the 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals?

The 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals will take place at 8:15 p.m. local time (2:15 p.m. ET) on Sunday, May 26. The bronze medal match will precede the gold medal match at 3:45 p.m. local time (9:15 a.m. ET). 

2019 IIHF World Championship Schedule:

There are only four matches left in the 2019 IIHF World Championship. The two semifinals, the bronze medal match, and the gold medal match.

SEMIFINALS:
No. 3 Russia vs. No. 5 Finland, 9:15 a.m. ET, May 25
No. 1 Canada vs. No. 6 Czech Republic, 1:15 p.m. ET, May 25

BRONZE MEDAL MATCH:
Loser of Semifinal No. 1 vs. Loser of Semifinal No. 2, 9:45 a.m. ET, May 26

GOLD MEDAL MATCH:
Winner of Semifinal No. 1 vs. Winner of Semifinal No. 2, 2:15 p.m. ET, May 26

How to watch or stream the 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals:

All games at the IIHF World Championships will be broadcast on NHL Network.

Who is playing in the 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals?

The 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals will be played between the winner of Russia (8-0-0)/ Finland (7-0-1) and Canada (7-1-0)/ Czech Republic (7-0-1).

Lineups for the 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals:

Lineups for the 2019 IIHF Championship Finals will be announced on the morning of May 26. 

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The Blues turnaround from last place to the playoffs began with a blowout win over the Caps

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USA Today Sports images

The Blues turnaround from last place to the playoffs began with a blowout win over the Caps

When the St. Louis Blues woke up on Jan. 3, they were in dead last in the NHL. A 15-18-4 record gave them 34 points, less than teams like the Los Angeles Kings and the Ottawa Senators who would go on to finish the season as the two worst teams. Yes, St. Louis had played in only 37 games to that point, the fewest in the league, but finding a way to climb back into the playoff hunt seemed daunting and unlikely.

Now the Blues are the Western Conference champions and stand just four wins away from the Stanley Cup.

The Blues have been one of the best stories of the NHL season climbing from last place to the Stanley Cup Final. When looking back at St. Louis’ season, there are several moments one can point to as key moments in the turnaround. Craig Berube replaced Mike Yeo as head coach on Nov. 20 and goalie Jordan Binnington got his first start with the Blues on Jan. 7 and never gave back the crease.

But the turnaround really started on Jan. 3. On that morning, the Blues were in last place. That would be the last day they would find themselves there.

And it all started with a 5-2 win against the Washington Capitals.

On Jan. 3, St. Louis and Washington looked like two teams headed in opposite directions. While the Blues were in last place, the Caps were rolling with a 24-11-3 record, first in the Metropolitan Division. Washington came into St. Louis on a five-game road winning streak. As if that wasn’t enough, the Blues were also without sniper Vladimir Tarasenko.

And yet, what looked like an easy win for the Caps turned into anything but. Robert Thomas scored a deflection just four minutes into the game. Washington managed to take a 2-1 lead early in the second, but St. Louis rattled off four straight goals for the 5-2 win. With Washington down only 3-2 heading into the third period, the Blues but on a possession clinic outshooting Washington 14-2 in the final frame.

"We stayed aggressive," Alex Pietrangelo told reporters. "When we're playing in the O zone, the best way to play defense is to play in their end. We kept the puck, we moved the puck, we worked. Forwards were great tonight, protecting the center of the ice. It kind of took their playmakers out of the game."

The Caps’ first shot came 13 minutes into the third. By then, the Blues already had 12 shots and two goals.

Over the course of an 82-game season, teams will lose games against teams they shouldn’t. This felt different. Watching this game, you did not come away thinking the Caps played down to an inferior team. The Blues dominated that game and the Caps knew it.

“They were skating, competing harder, won races, more determined than we were,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “If we’re being honest about it, we didn’t have a very good game, and they played a pretty darn good game.”
More importantly, St. Louis realized it as well. They knew following the game that this was a win and a performance they could build on.

“I think we out-chanced them, so we're building here at even strength,” Pietrangelo said. “It's just a matter of keeping it at even strength and scoring goals. Tonight the goals weren't necessarily pretty but we created a lot of chances."
That night proved to be the first night of the turnaround. From Jan. 3 on, no team in the NHL earned more points than St. Louis’ 65, not even the Tampa Bay Lightning who won the Presidents’ Trophy with an incredible 128 points.

St. Louis was not expected to be bad this season. The team made a number of offseason moves to bolster the roster and many thought they could be real contenders, but they sure did not play like it through the first half of the season. It took a big win over the defending Stanley Cup champs to show them and everyone else just how good they really were. From that point on, they never looked back.

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