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Hendricks expects big things from Wolski


Hendricks expects big things from Wolski

By Ben Raby

STE CATHERINES, ONTARIO Sometimes the fate of a professional hockey player simply comes down to having an opportunity. Few players know this better than Washington Capitals forward Matt Hendricks who is entering his third year with the team after making good on a professional tryout in 2010.

So when Hendricks was asked last week what he thinks it will take for his former teammate Wojtek Wolski to regain his 20-goal form, the answer was a familiar one.

I think it has so much to do with the opportunity youre given and the role that youre put in, he said. Hendricks and Wolski were roommates with the Colorado Avalanche during the 2009-10 campaign, and after Wolskis signing with the Caps last month, the two will be reunited next season in Washington.

Wolski had a career-high 23 goals and 65 points with the Avalanche and Phoenix Coyotes in 2009-10, but in the two years since he has combined for just 16 goals and 47 points while playing for three different teams.

He just wasnt put in the same role that he had in Denver, Hendricks said. He wasnt given as many minutes on the power play, or as many minutes against other teams lines that he can take advantage of and those things factor into a guys point production - who youre playing against, how much ice time youre given, how much power play time youre given.

The other thing is the mental side of it. Its hard when you get traded around- you dont have that comfortable feeling with your teammates, and coaches. Im sure thats something hes looking forward to this year in Washington- getting in there right away and establishing himself with a good training camp. If hes comfortable and confident the rest of that stuff will come. The opportunities will come if he shows that hes ready for it.

Wolski, 26, had career-lows of four goals and 12 points last season in 31 games split between the New York Rangers and Florida Panthers. He missed significant time with a groin injury but was medically cleared by the Capitals before signing in July. If healthy, Hendricks sees Wolski as a top-six forward.

Hes a very skilled player but hes also a big strong kid. If he can get the puck, he can be a bit like Jason Chimera with that outside speed but also with the strength to cut in and outmuscle defensemen in front of the net. So youre going to see that and youre also going to see his playmaking abilities. He has the ability to put up points if hes given the opportunity (theres that word again) on the power play and such.


Hendricks opportunity in 2010 came largely from his relationship with then-Caps head coach Bruce Boudreau. Hendricks had played for Boudreau with the 2006-07 Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League and the coach had a soft spot for the 29-year-old who had 301 career minor league games to his credit and just 60 career games in the NHL.

Despite Boudreau moving on to the Anaheim Ducks last season, Hendricks has not forgotten who provided him with his big break for a fulltime NHL gig. With that in mind, when Boudreau asked a few of his current and former players to assist him at his summer hockey school, Hendricks jumped at the- well, opportunity- to help out.

Bruce asked me back in September to do this, Hendricks told from Boudreaus Golden Horseshoe Hockey School in Southern Ontario.

Then he goes to Anaheim and Im in Washington and we didnt really touch base for the rest of the year but he contacted me after the playoffs and asked if Id still be interested in attending and I said yes. I said that I committed to doing it then and I dont see why it should change now. Bruce and I have always had a good relationship since my playing days in Hershey so anytime that I have the chance to help him out a little bit, and I felt that I could do it, I was excited for the opportunity.

Boudreaus summer hockey school celebrated its 30th anniversary last week with 400 campers with varying skill levels and ranging from ages 4-16.

Check back to in the days ahead for more on Boudreaus Golden Horseshoe Hockey School including our one-on-one interview with the Caps former bench boss.

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Capitals vs. Lightning Game 6 Eastern Conference Final 2018: Date, Time, How to Watch, live stream

Capitals vs. Lightning Game 6 Eastern Conference Final 2018: Date, Time, How to Watch, live stream

When the Capitals take the ice in Game 6, they will be playing for their playoff lives. After losing Game 5 on Saturday to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Caps must win on Monday or their season will be over.

In order to do that, the Caps will have to change some things. First, they have to figure out how to win at home, something they have yet to do in this series. Second, they will have to find a way to get to Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy who has been dominant the past three games. Alex Ovechkin also needs to win the matchup against the fourth line since he has only two five-on-five points through five games. Finally, the defense will have to be better. Matt Niskanen took the blame for Game 5, but really it was a tough night all around.

Also, a few penalty calls against Tampa Bay would be nice too.

Where: Capital One Arena

When: 8:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Lightning, Game 6 will be broadcast on NBCSN

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Lightning Game 6 on NBC Sports' live stream page.


Game 6 of the Capitals vs. Lightning 2018 NHL Playoff series takes place on Monday, May 21 at 8:00 p.m. at Capital One Arnea.


The TV broadcast of Game 6 between the Capitals and Lightning is on NBCSN. Capitals pre- and postgame coverage takes place on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
8:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Lightning Game 6 on NBCSN
10:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
11:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime


Game 6 between the Capitals and Lightning is available to stream online on Monday, May 21 live here through the NBC Sports live stream page.


Capitals projected lines:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Chandler Stephenson - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana - Lars Eller - Brett Connolly
Devante Smith-Pelly -  Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Lightning projected lines:

Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Tyler Johnson - Brayden Point - Yanni Gourde
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - J.T. Miller
Chris Kunitz - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan

Victor Hedman - Dan Girardi
Ryan McDonagh - Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev

Andrei Vasilevskiy starts with Louis Domingue as backup.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.


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George McPhee's Vegas Golden Knights advance to Stanley Cup Final


George McPhee's Vegas Golden Knights advance to Stanley Cup Final

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Ryan Reaves scored the winning goal, Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves and the Vegas Golden Knights pushed their remarkable expansion season into the Stanley Cup Final, beating the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 on Sunday in Game 5 of the Western Conference final.

Alex Tuch also scored for the Knights. They lost Game 1 in Winnipeg before winning four straight to become the first expansion team since the 1968 St. Louis Blues -- when the six initial expansion teams were put alone in the West -- to get to the final.

Vegas will meet the Tampa Bay Lightning or the Washington Capitals in the final. Tampa Bay leads the Eastern Conference final 3-2, with Game 6 set for Monday night in Washington.

Josh Morrissey scored for the Jets, and Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves.

Reaves, the bruising Winnipeg native acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins before to the trade deadline in February, snapped a 1-1 tie with 6:39 left in the second period when he tipped Luca Sbisa's point shot past Hellebuyck for his first goal of the playoffs.

Winnipeg got a power play early in the third, but couldn't muster much of anything. The Knights smothered much of the Jets' attack for the next 10 minutes, with Hellebuyck having to come up with big stops on William Karlsson and Eric Haula to keep his team within one.

The Jets pressed with under 4 minutes to go, with Fleury stopping captain Blake Wheeler on the doorstep, but it wasn't nearly enough as the Knights closed out their third straight series on the road.

The Jets beat the Knights 4-2 in Game 1, but Vegas snatched home ice with a 3-1 victory in Game 2 before picking up 4-2 and 3-2 wins at T-Mobile Arena.

The Knights, whose jaw-dropping inaugural 109-point campaign included a Pacific Division crown, swept the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, and knocked out the San Jose Sharks in six games.

The Jets had the NHL's second-best record with 114 points in the regular season. They advanced to the first conference final in city's history with a five-game victory over the Minnesota Wild in the opening round before topping the Presidents' Trophy-winning Nashville Predators in Game 7 on the road.

The usual raucous, white-clad crowd at Bell MTS Place -- not to mention the thousands of fans outside the arena attending a street party on a sun-drenched spring afternoon -- were silenced just 5:11 into Game 5 when Tuch jumped on Morrissey's turnover and fired his sixth past Hellebuyck.

The Jets were tentative to start and it got worse after the opener as Vegas dominated the next couple of shifts, forcing some good saves from Hellebuyck before Winnipeg got its feet moving.

After being outshot 7-1 in the first 7 minutes, the Jets finally pushed back and turned the tide with the next nine attempts on goal, culminating with Morrissey making amends for his early gaffe with 2:46 left in the period.

Bryan Little won a faceoff in the offensive zone straight back to second-year defenseman, who blasted his first career playoff goal past Fleury's glove.

One of Winnipeg's downfalls in the series through four games was an inability to maintain momentum. The Knights scored within 1:28 of a Jets' goal in each of the first four games -- a crushing 12 seconds after Winnipeg tied Game 3, and an equally gut-wrenching 43 seconds after the Jets knotted Game 4 -- but they managed to take the game to the locker rooms tied 1-1.

Both teams had chances in the second period before Reaves made it 2-1, with Jets center Mathieu Perrault just missing on a pass from Little that had too much speed.

Right after Reaves scored the second playoff goal of his career -- and first since 2015 with St. Louis -- Winnipeg's Nikolaj Ehlers rang a shot off the post on Fleury.