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Caps try to move on from deflating loss

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Caps try to move on from deflating loss

They played well into a third overtime and a total of 114:41 minutes on Wednesday night, but in the end the Rangers' 2-1 win over the Capitals counts as just one game. Two days off await for wounds to heal, bodies to rest, and for Washington to get past perhaps their most deflating loss of the season.

They will now have to find the energy to bounce back and even up a series suddenly tipped in New Yorks direction.

You invest a lot every night, no matter what; if its a 60-minute game or extended into overtime. When you extend into overtime you are investing more and more and you are putting everything youve got into it, Matt Hendricks said.

Unfortunately, we didnt win tonight, but we cant let that bother us. We just need to get prepared for the next one.

Not only was it a long game the third longest in franchise history and longest ever at the Verizon Center- but Washington had to continue after several prime scoring chances they failed to cash in on. Two shots in the first overtime had to be especially tough to move on from.

Troy Brouwer had a chance about five minutes into overtime that was set up masterfully by Hendricks. New Yorks Ryan McDonagh was skating up the left boards with the puck when Hendricks met him with a brutal shoulder check, leaving the Rangers defenseman falling to the ice and a loose puck headed towards the net. Hendricks brought the puck around the back of the goal and found Brouwer at the doorstep. His shot went wide right, a misfire Brouwer lamented after the game.

I gotta at least get it on net, give it a chance to go in, he said. But you gotta be a professional about it and try to put it in the back of your mind.

Brouwers had a great opportunity, but it was a clear miss. Ten minutes later, Ovechkin had a shot that had many in attendance convinced the game was over.

Coming in off a line change, Ovechkin skated directly towards the goal and immediately gained possession of the puck. New Yorks Anton Stralman lost his handle as Ovechkin skated by and saw an open look at Henrik Lundqvist. Ovechkin found space to the right of the Rangers goalie but clanked it off the post. It was so close the goal horn was accidentally set off.

Play continued for another 40 minutes after and the Capitals never got closer. They now sit down 2-1 in the series with another home game coming up in Game 4. Despite the historic length of Game 3 this time around, the Capitals are familiar with their situation.

We know we can do it. We were down 2-1 and lost here against Boston and here in our first game too. We just have to go out and battle the next game, head coach Dale Hunter said.

It is good for our heads to know we were in the exact same position against a very, very good team and we managed to climb out of that, defenseman Karl Alzner said.

Im sure the guys will be fine, weve lost in overtime in these playoffs already and weve found a good way to bounce back. We are a lot mentally tougher of a team than we have been in the past.

In the first round the Capitals lost both Game 1 and Game 6 to the Bruins in overtime. Their third loss in the seven game series, in Game 3, came after a late goal (18:07 in 3rd) by Zdeno Chara. They have battled back from devastating losses and shown they can move on.

Besides simply focusing on the next game, there was one theme that stood out among comments from the Capitals players and their head coach. They stressed how they werent the only team that had played all those minutes. It was mentioned by almost everybody how the Rangers are also feeling the effects from such a long game.

Mentally well park it, Brooks Laich said. We didnt get the result but the physical took a lot out of both teams.

Both teams went through it. Its a game where they both played the same minutes, its the same players, same game. Were always in the same boat, Hunter said.

Alzner said the way they are playing isnt the problem and that Washingtons depth could end up making the difference after such a long game.

Were playing well and eventually I think those guys are probably going to get a little tired. They have a lot of guys logging a lot of minutes. We just have to keep going with the program.

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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?

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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.

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