If there is one thing weve learned about Dale Hunter in his six months behind the Capitals bench its that hes perfected the art of keeping inside information on the inside.Moments after addressing his players following Saturday nights season-ending 2-1 loss to the Rangers in Madison Square Garden, Hunter was asked if hes considered his future with the Capitals.Thats not the time right now, he said.But when asked if he enjoyed his first experience as an NHL coach, the 51-year-old native of Petrolia, Ontario provided a glimpse of his intentions.Coachings the next best thing to playing, Hunter said. To be involved in the Stanley Cup playoffs, its a privilege to try to take a run at it again.When Hunter agreed to replace Bruce Boudreau on Nov. 28 he reportedly signed a contract that only took him through the end of this season. Capitals general manager George McPhee has never confirmed that report, keeping all contractual information confidential.As co-owner of the Ontario Hockey Leagues London Knights, Hunter has the built-in option of returning to his junior team and saying goodbye to his brief career as an NHL coach, in which his team went 30-23-7 in the regular season and 7-7 in the playoffs.His London Knights won the OHL title last week, clinching a berth in the Memorial Cup playoffs to determine the best junior hockey team in Canada. Hunter could conduct post-season player interviews, pack his bags and be back in Petrolia by the end of this week.But will he?Hes obviously done a good job with our club, Capitals right wing Troy Brouwer said. We were counted out in the first round and here we are in Game Seven. We ended up losing, but I think he did a good job. Hes a good presence behind the bench and I think whatever it is will work itself out with him.A month ago the support for Hunter inside the Capitals locker room might have been split down the middle. But defenseman Karl Alzner said last week that the team would be adversely affected by another coaching change and that the Capitals actually need Hunter to return.It would be very, very tough, Alzner said about a coaching change. The way were playing hockey right now is a good way to play hockey and you dont really want to mess with it. I would say, yes, we need him to come back if you want us to continue to play this style of hockey.Hunter seemed to form a bond with his players over the course of the past four weeks, convincing them to play a style that led them lead all NHL playoff teams in blocked shots and ranking second in hits. And, at least from the outside, it seems to be a bond he is not ready to break.There is a lot of character in that room, Hunter said in his post-game news conference. Character is a big word and it means a lot. You see how we played and the sacrifices you have to make. In that room there, they did it. They played the type of hockey you have to play to win. We just came up a goal short.
The Stanley Cup is not the only trophy that will be awarded at the end of the Stanley Cup Final series between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights. The Conn Smythe will also be given to the player deemed the most valuable to his team during the playoffs.
Who will that player be?
It's not hard to figure out who the frontrunner is right now. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't just been the best goalie in the playoffs, he's been the best player with a dominant postseason in which he has posted a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. He has been so dominant, he could win it even if Vegas loses the series.
The last player from the losing team to win the Conn Smythe was Jean-Sebastian Giguere from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003.
But what about the Caps?
Alex Ovechkin is the leader of Washington and has been absolutely dominant throughout the postseason. He even scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.
Surprisingly, however, Ovechkin does not lead the team in points through the playoffs. Evgeny Kuznetsov holds that edge with 24 points to Ovechkin's 22.
Will their offensive dominance propel them to win the Cup and the Conn Smythe? Will a different player emerge as the hero of the series?
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The Washington Capitals official #ALLCAPS hashtag started in 2017 during a Caps-Penguins game after the Pittsburgh Penguins' official Twitter account decided to tweet in all lowercase letters during the game.
Now, as the Caps look to face the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final ahead of Game 1 Monday, Vegas has followed suit by changing their iconic "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign to include only lowercase letters, a jab at the Capitals #ALLCAPS.
Additionally, the City's official Twitter account has changed their handle to "the city of las vegas" without any capital letters and the hashtag #nocaps.
It will be interesting to see how the Capitals' official Twitter will respond...
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