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Friday Six-Pack - What's up with that offsides call?

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Friday Six-Pack - What's up with that offsides call?

If it’s Friday, it’s time for our Friday six-pack of questions, where we answer the top six Capitals questions of the week. Let’s get started:

I don't get it the call. The play progressed pretty far after that offsides to call the penalty.

- @TylerHefner

Hey Tyler, I’m sure you’re referring to the Justin Williams offsides that negated Alex Ovechkin’s historic 484th NHL goal that could have made Ovechkin the NHL’s all-time leading Russian-born goal scorer. Yes, the offsides was missed on the ice and yes, the play continued uninterrupted, allowing John Carlson to set up Ovi’s one-timer that seared its way past Steve Mason’s catching glove in the closing minute of the third period. The linesman on the ice must have thought Williams was straddling the blue line with his skates. But, according the new coach’s challenge, a team can request a video review to determine one of two things: whether a goaltender was interfered with; or if offsides occurred leading up to the goal. Replays showed that both of Williams’ skates were in the offensive zone when Jason Chimera carried the puck across the goal line, constituting what should have been offsides. It was the correct call and both Ovechkin and Williams admitted the NHL got it right. It was also the fourth time this season the Caps have had a reviewed call go against them. The first three times were because of goalie interference.

Is Stan Galiev an option to replace Latta on the 4th line? @rtomoff16

Since being assigned to Hershey on a two-week conditioning stint, right wing Stan Galiev has three goals on 13 shots and is a plus-3 in just two games. And while that is impressive, it’s hard to justify making a spot for him in the Caps’ lineup when he returns. (By the way, a team can only send a player to the minors on a conditioning assignment once a season. That means Galiev will not need to clear NHL waivers when he is re-assigned to the Capitals one week from today. However, if the Caps want to send him back to Hershey, he’d need to clear waivers and I think there’s a good chance another NHL team would try to claim him). The Caps like Galiev’s offensive upside and that’s why they signed him to a two-year, $1.15 million contract in July. Galiev is a valuable commodity to the Capitals because if one or two top six forwards are injured he could slide into one of those spots and provide some offense both at even strength and on the power play, if necessary. Putting Galiev on the fourth line just doesn’t jive with what Barry Trotz wants for that unit. He wants the fourth line to be gritty, responsible defensively and able to draw a penalty now and again. They are more likely to get that kind of game from Latta and, depending on the opponent, Chandler Stephenson. 

Can't understand why Wilson isnt the net front presence more than Chimmer @CapsYapp

With all due respect, CapsYapp’s comment came BEFORE Jason Chimera scored two power-play goals Thursday night, marking the first time that’s happened in his 15-year NHL career. And while I like the idea of Tom Wilson seeing some power play time, it’s hard to argue with the success Chimera had against the Flyers, when he scored one goal off the rush on a beautiful rainbow pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov and another off a deflection in front on a Matt Niskanen point drive. I think Barry Trotz is giving Wilson little bites of extra ice time and it starts with killing penalties. In my opinion Wilson is a player who made big looping circles when he came into the league, something he could get away with in juniors. But the NHL is a stop-and-start league, especially around the net, and playing the penalty kill requires a lot of stopping and starting, something I think can help Wilson’s overall play at 5-on-5. Trotz says he hopes to get Wilson power play time at some point this season but I’m not sure he’s earned it just yet.

What would a more offensive third line look like? - @BaciSaurusRex

That’s an interesting question. In my opinion, championship teams are built with two forward lines that can score regularly, a hard-to-play-against checking line that can eat up big minutes and score timely goals, and a fourth line that can hit like crazy without taking penalties and finished every night even or plus on the plus-minus ledger. (It goes without saying strong goaltending and a solid defensive six is paramount as well). I know Justin Williams was brought to D.C. as a top six right wing, but if you’re deep enough to have him on the third line, man, that’s a luxury. If the playoffs started today, I would love to go to war with Jason Chimera, Jay Beagle and Justin Williams as my checking line. (And remember, checking lines often log more ice time in the playoffs than second lines). One thing that stood out to meThursday night was the restraint Chimera showed early in the game when he was checked to the ice by forward Ryan White but did not chase him down and take a selfish retaliatory penalty. Chimera continued his shift without incident and drilled White when he got the chance later in the game – without taking a penalty. So to answer your question, I don’t think the Caps’ third line needs any more offense than it already has (10 goals).

Orpik escaped injury last yr...knew it was inevitable with way he plays...how smart was that 5yr deal? - @yesisaiditfirst

I guess we’ll all know in April, May and June. With 795 regular season games and another 106 playoff games, there’s no question the tread on Orpik’s 35-year-old tires are starting to wear thin, especially with the hard minutes he plays on the penalty kill and top D pairing. That said, Orpik cares for his body the way a meticulous car collector cares for his antique Model T. That’s why it’s important for Orpik, who is dealing with “multiple hurts,” according to Barry Trotz, to mend his wounds now instead of trying to play through them. As for the five-year, $27.5 million contract, I’m not sure the Caps get Orpik if they don’t give him that fifth year. (Orpik made $6.5 million last season, will make $5.5 million in each of the next three seasons, and $4.5 million in 2018-19 when he turns 38). Is Orpik going to be worth a $5.5 million cap hit at age 38? Probably not. But if he can stay on the ice I think the Caps can get two more top-pair seasons out of Orpik, which would be enough to transition into a top pairing of John Carlson and perhaps Madison Bowey in a few years.

With @tom_wilso trying to become less of an enforcer/instigator and @Latta17 seeing less ice, are the caps losing grit? - @CapsPuckSkins

Yes, but so is the rest of the NHL. There simply aren’t that many teams carrying one-dimensional players whose only purpose is to fight opponents in an attempt to get them off the ice or put their teams on the power play by drawing an extra penalty. Like many hockey fans, I like fighting and I think there’s a place for it in the game. When Tom Wilson is challenged, it’s usually coming from fighters who only want him off the ice. I think the Caps can play grittier without dropping the gloves and they played that kind of game Thursday night in Philly. The Caps will be tested physically every time they face the Islanders, as well, and will need to show the same kind of grit they showed against them in the playoffs last season. What I like about this Capitals team is they’ve shown an ability to play any kind of style against any kind of opponent – except the Sharks, of course.     

MORE: Caps make a pair of roster moves

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4 things to watch as the Caps host the Rangers

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4 things to watch as the Caps host the Rangers

The Caps return to action Wednesday as they host the New York Rangers (7 p.m., NBCSN) in a Metropolitan Division clash.

Here are four things you should be watching for in this game.

The schedule finally gives the Caps a break

The early season schedule for Washington has been bizarre to say the least. Finally, they will be catching a break on Wednesday as the Rangers will be playing in the second leg of a back-to-back.

That certainly does not guarantee a victory, but it is something the Caps are very aware of and they hope to take advantage.

“I think speed is a big part of the game and for them to be fatigued off the back-to-back is definitely going to help us whether we move the puck a little quicker than we would in other games just kind of knowing they are coming off that back-to-back,” Nathan Walker said.

“We've got to make them skate, we've got to make their D go back for pucks,” T.J. Oshie said. “I don't feel like they're going to look tired at the start of the game, usually that comes towards the end of the game, second half, and so you've got to work to drain them down a little bit and we've got to take advantage of that opportunity tonight.”

Top-line Stephenson

Stephenson was added to the top line on Saturday with no practice other than the morning skate that day. A few days between games has given him a chance to practice with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov and it should pay dividends on Wednesday.

This game also should be a good opportunity for Stephenson who was added to the top for his speed. Playing a tired Rangers team is something he will need to take advantage of.

“It's always tough to play back-to-back and with the travel and stuff like that,” Stephenson said. “For the most part, I think that that's going to be important and just to play a full 60, that's something that we want to get consistent with and we haven't been so far … But for the most part, I think the start will really help us tonight.”

Nathan Walker returns

The Caps made a change to the lineup for Wednesday’s game as Nathan Walker will be in for Dmitrij Jaskin on the fourth line.

When asked why he made the change, Reirden said, “Just a different look. A team that's on a back-to-back, we wanted to really come at them with some speed, tenacity and intensity that we know we always get from Nathan so thought it was a good add into tonight's lineup.

The Caps have got to get more offense from their bottom six and adding the speedy Walker to the bottom six could provide a boost. He has had trouble playing within the system in the past and his play has been more frenzied than controlled at times, but with Tom Wilson still suspended, there’s definitely an opportunity for Walker to earn more playing time depending on how he plays Wednesday.

King Henry remains on his throne

In addition to a tired Rangers team, the Caps are also expected to face a tired goalie.

Henrik Lundqvist started New York’s game on Tuesday and is expected to start again on Wednesday against Washington. That is not confirmed as the Rangers did not have a morning skate because of the back-to-back, but it is believed Lundqvist will play again.

There was a time when Lundqvist was considered the best netminder in the NHL and he is off to a phenomenal start this season with a 1.99 GAA and .939 save percentage in five games thus far.

But how will the 36-year-old goalie handle a back-to-back?

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Caps vs. Rangers: A look back at playoff heroes from the past

Caps vs. Rangers: A look back at playoff heroes from the past

The Washington Capitals and New York Rangers will meet for the first time this season on Wednesday at Capital One Arena (7 p.m., NBCSN). There’s a lot of history between these two teams.

The Caps and Rangers have met nine times in the playoffs, producing a good number of memorable postseason moments and heroes.

Here’s a look back at some of the more memorable playoff heroes between these two teams.

1990: John Druce’s monster postseason

Before Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Devante Smith-Pelly’s 2018 postseason heroics, there was John Druce. In the 1989-90 season, Druce scored eight goals and 11 points in 24 games for the Capitals. No one could have possibly predicted what he was going to do in the playoffs that year.

Druce became unstoppable in the playoffs in 1990, scoring 14 goals and 17 points in 15 games, but it took him a while to get going.

Washington defeated the New Jersey Devils in six games of the first round setting up a second round matchup against the first place Rangers. Druce had three goals against the Devils, but exploded against the Rangers for nine goals and 11 points in just five games, including a hat trick performance in Game 2. The Caps went on to cruise to a 4-1 series win over New York. It was the first time in franchise history the team advanced past the second round.

1991: Alan May’s first playoff goal

Local legend May scored only one playoff goal in his career, but it was a big one. It came in 1991, Game 4 against the Rangers. Washington trailed the series 2-1 at that point, but in the third period May managed to whack the puck through the five-hole of Mike Richter to give the Caps a 3-1 lead. The goal would prove to be the game-winner and tied the series at 2 games apiece. Washington would not lose again in that series.

2009: Sergei Fedorov scores the Game 7 winner

In Alex Ovechkin’s fourth season, the Caps made the playoffs for the second consecutive year. After finishing first in the Eastern Conference, expectations were higher for Washington than the year prior. Their first round opponent was the Rangers who proved to be a tougher out than most had expected.

New York stunned Washington by winning three of the first four games of the series. The Caps battled back to win the next two to force a Game 7. With the score tied at 1 late in the third period, 39-year-old Fedorov, who was acquired at the trade deadline the year before, took the puck from his own zone, streaked down the right side of the ice, pulled up at the faceoff dot and fired a wrister that beat Henrik Lundqvist to the top shelf.

The goal would prove to be the series winner giving Washington its first playoff victory in the Ovechkin era and the first since 1998.

2011: Jason Chimera scores in double OT

Meeting in the playoffs for the second time in three seasons, the Caps took a 2-0 series lead on the Rangers in 2011. New York hoped to even up the series when play shifted to Madison Square Garden. The Rangers won Game 3 and the two teams battled to a 3-3 tie through 80 minutes in Game 4. Finally in double overtime, Chimera finished off the blue shirts.

Chimera tried to shoot on net, but the puck was blocked Bryan McCabe and headed towards Lundqvist who was poised to cover it up and stop play. Marian Gaborik got his signals crossed, however, and swept the puck away from his own goalie and right to Chimera who had followed up his shot. With the puck behind Lundqvist, Chimera had an easy tap in for the winner.

2013: Mike Green’s one-timer wins it in OT

As a defenseman, Green was a player with some flaws to his game in his own zone. When he was in his prime, however, there were few blue liners as clutch offensively.

In the brief Adam Oates era, the Capitals made the playoffs only once and faced the Rangers in the first round in 2013. Washington took Game 1 and looked to take a commanding 2-0 series lead. Both teams battled to a scoreless draw through 60 minutes in Game 2, forcing overtime.

Steven Oleksy took a delay of game penalty early in the overtime for the Caps. Washington killed it off and Ryan McDonagh returned the favor with a delay of game penalty of his own five minutes later. That was the wrong team to give a power play to.

Dmitry Orlov faked a slap shot then passed it to the point for a Green one-timer. The shot deflected off Derek Stepan, off the post and into the net.

2015: Joel Ward scores the game-winner with one second left to go

Ward pulled off perhaps the most remarkable finish to a playoff game in Caps history. After dispatching the New York Islanders in Round 1 in Barry Trotz’s first season behind the bench, Washington faced the Rangers in the playoffs yet again for the fifth time in seven years.

Both teams traded goals in Game 1 at Madison Square Garden and it looked like the game was headed to overtime. With just five seconds left, Nicklas Backstrom hit Dan Boyle in the corner to free up the puck. Ovechkin snatched it and skated behind the net. The Rangers got caught watching Ovechkin and lost track of Ward who was by himself in front. Ovechkin fed Ward who scored with just 1.2 seconds left on the clock to give Washington the improbable win in regulation.

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