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Finding Lundqvist's kryptonite

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Finding Lundqvist's kryptonite

NEW YORK -- From the knees down, beating Henrik Lundqvist with a shot is like trying to knock down bowling pins with the re-set gate down.

The Capitals know this. And although they may not say it, their actions speak volumes.

In Saturdays 3-2 win over the New York Rangers, which evened the best-of-seven series at two wins apiece, two of the Capitals three goals beat the 30-year-old netminder over the shoulders.

In the first period Alex Ovechkin had a clear path to the net and as Lundqvist dropped to his knees the Capitals captain beat him high off his right shoulder. In the second period Nicklas Backstrom also had an unobstructed view of the net and fired a shot high over Lundqvists left shoulder.

You look at him and you think, Geez, he plays pretty deep, you should be able to pick his pocket, Capitals associate goalie coach Olie Kolzig said. But his angles are so good and he plays so wide. Youve got to beat him with a good shot, a good high shot.

Capitals defenseman Mike Green might have taken a similar approach on his game-winning shot, a thundering slapper from the top of the right circle. But just as Green cocked to shoot, Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh slid in front of his shooting lane.

I was just waiting for their shot blocker to pass by so I could get a shot off, said Green, whose shot beat Lundqvist about a foot off the ice. The game plan every night is dont get your shots blocked.

The Rangers went into the series against the Capitals leading all playoff teams in blocked shots because their forwards collapse in front of Lundqvist. With that in mind the Capitals tweaked their offensive zone approach by retrieving pucks in the corners then quickly feeding them back to the points.

Weve had to wait for shots, Green said. And if we dont have a shot we dont shoot because we dont want it blocked and sent the other way.

Kolzig believes that if the Caps want to win two more games against the Rangers itll take more than just aiming for Lundqvists water bottle. Theyll need to treat his crease as if its Madison Avenue.

But even that is no guarantee against a goalie whom many consider the best in the business.

For what hes done in the city that he plays in for the number of years that hes done it is just tremendous, Kolzig said. Hes up for the Vezina, hes up for the Hart and he could legitimately win both. Hes a competitor. Its playoff hockey and you say it time and time again that youve got to get traffic in front.

Ovis goal in Game 2 there was traffic. Lundqvist didnt see it and he picked it up late and those are the ways that youre going to beat this guy. Usually, when goalies are playing this well, if they see it, theyre stopping it.

And if they dont, they usually arent.

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Capitals trim two more from roster, sending pair of goalies to Hershey

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Capitals trim two more from roster, sending pair of goalies to Hershey

Washington made a number of cuts Saturday morning to trim their roster down to 43 players

On Saturday night, they cut it down to 41 as the team announced goalies Parker Milner and Adam Morrison were assigned to AHL Hershey.

Milner and Morrison’s departure leaves Washington with four goalies on the current roster in Braden Holtby, Pheonix Copley, Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov.

The trade of Philipp Grubauer left the backup role in Washington a matter of some question heading into the season, but the team’s top four was never really in doubt. Saturday’s move to send Milner and Morrison to the AHL only confirms what we already knew.

With Hershey’s training camp set to start on Monday, the Bears will obviously need two goalies which explains why the move was made now. 

This will likely only be a temporary move, however, as Vanecek and Samsonov are likely to be Hershey’s goalies heading into the regular season. For now, keeping them on the Capitals roster allows them to continue practicing against better competition and will allow them the opportunity for more work in the preseason.

The Capitals still have another three preseason games left to play, the next of which will take place on Tuesday in St. Louis. 

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Capitals make another round of cuts sending several players to Hershey

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Capitals make another round of cuts sending several players to Hershey

With Hershey Bears training camp set to start on Monday, the Caps have sent a number of players to the AHL in the latest round of roster cuts. Mathias Bau, Hampus Gustafsson, Beck Malenstyn, Mason Mitchell, Brian Pinho, Kristofers Bindulis, Tobias Geisser have all been returned to Hershey. Grant Besse, who was on an AHL contract, has been returned as well. Mark Simpson has been released from his tryout agreement.

Of the players returned, there are no major surprises. The Caps only have room to add a fourth line center and possibly one or two extra forwards as well as a backup goalie and none of the players listed were in serious contention for taking one of those spots.

The moves cut Washington’s roster down to 43. The maximum roster allowed in-season is 23 players, provided the salaries fit under the $79.5 million salary cap ceiling.

The latest round of cuts still leave up for grabs the fourth line center job as Nic Dowd, Travis Boyd and Jayson Megna still remain on the current roster.

After playing four preseason games, the Caps have three more contests remaining before the start of the season. With plenty of prospects still on the roster, you can expect several of those players to be in the lineup for Tuesday’s game in St. Louis.

“For me, it's really important, really important for the overall direction of our organization to have our young players playing games,” head coach Todd Reirden said Friday. “We have to have them playing games. We can easily put out almost our entire roster to play [Friday’s] game, but that is not where we're at. We're about developing players within our organization, seeing where they're at, gauging the success that maybe they've already had in terms of their careers and seeing whether they're ready for this step or not.

“For the first four games you go through for sure a trial and error and you get to really gauge where your prospects are at. I've always felt strongly about that with young players and given them an opportunity to either stay or leave. It is in their hands. They're making the decisions for me.”

 

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