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With Green gone, who will find Ovi's sweet spot?


With Green gone, who will find Ovi's sweet spot?

For the better part of 10 years, Mike Green and Alex Ovechkin formed one of the most dynamic power-play duos in the NHL, with Green deftly feeding pucks into Ovechkin’s powerful wheelhouse for blinding one-timers.

With Green now in Detroit running the Red Wings’ power play, John Carlson and Matt Niskanen will be asked to hands that feed Ovechkin.

“They were really good at it,” said Niskanen, whose power play minutes went from 242 in Pittsburgh in 2013-14 to just 87 with the Capitals last season. “They played together a long time and had that chemistry. That’s something that developed.

“Obviously, having a lot of skill helps. Hopefully, with some more reps I can get better at that skill, feeding Ovi in the sweet spot. There are other aspects of the power play that I’ll get to a higher level sooner, but I’ll take the reps as they come and try to get better at it.”

Green led all Caps defensemen in power-play time last season with 198 minutes. Carlson was right behind him with 142 minutes and the two helped the Caps finish with the NHL’s No. 1 power play at 25.3 percent. Ovechkin also finished with a league-high 25 power-play goals.

RELATED: MacLellan may not be done tinkering with Caps

Carlson split time last season between the No. 1 and No. 2 power-play units and said with the additions of T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams the Caps should have more options than just Ovechkin blasting away from the left faceoff circle.

“I know that situation (with Green and Ovechkin) was great, but I’ve got to go out there and make  sure I’m doing whatever I can. We have a lot of great shooters and great puck movers so I don’t take anything for granted.”

Carlson said that while Green and Ovechkin shared a special chemistry, there is more to setting up Ovechkin than simply getting the puck on his stick.

“You can’t just look at him and pass it to him and he’s going to score every time,” Carlson said. “There’s other stuff that goes on that dictates the play. Where do I get the puck from? Where is their forward? Is he on him? Is he shading toward me? Is he in my shot lane?

“At the end of the day, you let your mind react. You need to know the good times to pass it to him, the times to fake. In some situations you need to get it over there as quickly as possible. Sometimes he’s thinking he’s going down (low to the net), but their defender could be coming up and he picks it off and I’m in no man’s land.

“We can talk about it all we want, but it’s about reading and reacting.”

Since 17 of Green’s 45 points last season came on the man-advantage,  there will also be even-strength points that need to be picked up on the Caps’ blue line.

Niskanen, who saw his point totals drop from 46 with the Penguins to 31 with the Caps, said he’ll put a little pressure on himself to produce more offense this season.

“Greener had a really good year last year,” Niskanen said. “He produced a lot and he played a lot on that first power play for the majority of the year. That’s something as a group we’re going to have to pick up that slack. I don’t think me or John Carlson are going to get (his 45) points. But as a group, getting more involved in the offense, I think you should see some of our numbers go up.”

MORE CAPITALS: Oshie flashes offensive brilliance in Caps win

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Alex Ovechkin takes home ESPY for Best Male Athlete Award

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Alex Ovechkin takes home ESPY for Best Male Athlete Award

Alexander Ovechkin's offseason continues to be one for the books. 

Just a week removed from celebrating with the Stanley Cup in Moscow, Ovechkin was named Best Male Athlete Wednesday night at the 2018 ESPYs. 

The 32-year-old is the first NHL player to win the award since it was first introduced in 1993. 

"The Great Eight" beat out Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros, James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. 

Ovechkin was not in Los Angeles to accept the award.


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Braden Holtby’s save in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup wasn’t even nominated for an ESPY

Braden Holtby’s save in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup wasn’t even nominated for an ESPY

On Wednesday night ESPN hosts their yearly sports award show, the ESPYs, to celebrate the best of the last 365 days in sport. 

One thing they will not be celebrating, or did not even consider celebrating, was Braden Holtby’s save in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final

This year there were 16 plays nominated to be the “Best Play” and were seeded into a bracket. For the past month fans have been voting in each head-to-head matchup culminating in four pretty outstanding plays:

All of those plays can be viewed here

Three of those four were in a championship game, the other was a just a once in a lifetime play from a teenager. 

But the ESPYs are saying that there are 16 plays from this past year that were better than Holtby’s save… Can we really believe that? Everyone loves buzzer beaters, but they accounted for six of the 16 plays. One of them could have easily gotten bumped. 

And aside from the three listed above there were only two that were in the championship event for each sport. Holtby could have rounded it out for six.

We’re not saying that Holtby’s play was the best in the past year, or even in the top four. Heck, there should be no one that tops Ogunbowale’s incredible heroics. But arguably the best play in D.C. sports history not making the top-16 for best plays in a 365 day period? 

It must have been one heck of a sports year.  

For those that are nominated, Alex Ovechkin is a finalist for Best Male Athlete and Best NHL Player. The Capitals are in the running for Best Team.