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Caps' Zach Sanford says stint with Bears 'was good for me'

Caps' Zach Sanford says stint with Bears 'was good for me'

Zach Sanford got exactly what the Capitals hoped he would during his two-plus week stint in the minors: some confidence with the puck on his stick.

In six games with the Hershey Bears, Sanford recorded four goals and three assists while skating primarily on a line Brad Malone and Nathan Walker. Prior to being sent down, Sanford, 22, had no goals and one assist in 19 games with the Capitals.

Sanford wouldn’t say whether he’s suiting up Saturday night against Montreal, but it’s unlikely the team would recall the rookie just for him to sit.

“It was nice to get some ice time, play some power play, get the chance to shoot the puck a little more, get some points,” said Sanford, who was one of eight Caps who took part in the morning skate Saturday.

“It almost gets to the point where you think you’re never going to score again,” he added, referring to his struggles in Washington. “When you see one go in, the pressure relieves a little bit.”

Based on the morning skate, it looks like Andre Burakovsky will be scratched for a third straight game. If Sanford is indeed in the lineup vs. Montreal, that means one other forward must sit. It would not be a surprise if the odd man out is Brett Connolly, though we may not know for sure until pre-game warmups.

Sanford said Capitals Coach Barry Trotz reached out to him multiple times during his stint with the Bears in effort to keep the rookie apprised of the situation in Washington. Earlier this week, Sanford said Trotz sent him a text informing him that he would be recalled ahead Canadiens game.

Sanford admitted that he was frustrated by his demotion late last month. But he also acknowledged that it was ultimately the right decision for his longterm development.

“Initially it’s frustrating for anybody when you get sent down, but I think it’s important to get a breather and take a step back,” he said. “It was good for me. I went in with a good mindset that I was going to work hard as I could, not be pissed off and it turned out well for me…It was huge for me and for my confidence going forward.”

RELATED: 3 bold predictions: Caps face angry Montreal

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Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

In what is perhaps the most unexpected Stanley Cup Final pairing in recent memory, the Washington Capitals and the Las Vegas Golden Knights are going to make history this year.

Either it is going to be the first expansion team to win a title in their first season, or it will be a team looking to end a 27-year title drought for one of the biggest cities in the United States.

But what it will not be is the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup.

Going even farther back than the Capitals last Stanley Cup appearance (1998), the Georgetown Hoyas and UNLV Rebels met in the 1991 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Sin City took the first, and up until now, the only postseason bout between these two cities. The Larry Johnson-led University of Las Vegas squad powered right past the Hoyas in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.

[D.C. sports and Second Rounds, I know right?]

Coming fresh off the NCAA title in 1990, UNLV waltzed right to the Final Four before meeting their demise against Duke. It also ended up being the last game for Dikembe Mutombo in a Georgetown uniform.

While in all likely-hood this will not be the final game/ series for Alex Ovechkin rocking the red, it may be his last and only chance for him to play this far into a postseason.

In the past two seasons, Vegas has gone from zero professional teams to having a Stanley Cup contender, a WNBA franchise, and lined up to take over the Oakland Raiders in 2020. 

Now time for the Golden Knights' Cinderella story to come up a little bit short. 

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Capitals listed as underdogs in their first Stanley Cup since 1998

Capitals listed as underdogs in their first Stanley Cup since 1998

The odds have never gone the way of the Washington Capitals.

After years of being the common pick to finally break through and win the Stanley Cup, this was most definitely not the year.

Yet, here we are with the Capitals as one of the final two teams standing.

For their upcoming Stanley Cup Final, the Caps are the underdogs against the Las Vegas Golden Knights.  The opening line from OddsShark has the Golden Knights as -135 money line favorites to win the Stanley Cup. The Capitals were listed as +115 underdogs.

Vegas (the betting entity, not the team) has not exactly been the most reliable this year though. After all, the Golden Knights were 100/1 odds to win the whole thing. Now they are four games away.

In their past two series, Washington was not the favorites. The Capitals have not been favorites since the First Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

For years in the Alex Ovechkin era, they have been the favorites to not only go on to play for the Stanley Cup but winning it.

In 2018 they started the season tied for the fifth best odds to win the Cup (14/1), one of their lowest opening marks in the past decade. For the full perspective, Washington was tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs and behind the Dallas Stars at the start of the season.

Without question this underdog role has fit them quite well, they shouldn’t want anything to change heading into the biggest postseason series in 20 years for Washington D.C.

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