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Mike Richards taking the high road against Kings


Mike Richards taking the high road against Kings

Back in 2009, when he was the 24-year-old captain of the Flyers, Mike Richards boycotted the Philadelphia media, refusing to provide more than one- or two-word answers to post-game questions.

Apparently, it was a stance against reporters who questioned the off-ice habits of Richards and teammate Jeff Carter, who will face each other for just the third time in their careers tonight at Verizon Center when the Los Angeles Kings visit the Capitals.

Today, at the age of 31, Richards has gone out of his way to bob and weave questions about Kings general manager Dean Lombardi, who four months ago compared his relationship with Richards to a husband whose wife had cheated on him in a written summation provided to the Los Angeles Times.

“I didn’t make anything of it,” Richards said. “People that know me know I'm not out to make headlines or anything. I couldn’t care less.

“No offense, but if I never get interviewed again… I don’t go looking for interviews like some people might. I think he obviously wanted to get his … whatever out there, and he went and sought that. I'm the type of guy that kind of shies away from that stuff and I don’t have any need to comment on it.

“You’d have to ask him. I’m the wrong guy to ask.”

Richards said he experienced “way more highs than lows” in his four seasons with the Kings and is happy with his decision to sign with the Capitals, saying the scouting report Justin Williams gave him was completely accurate.

“He was pretty bang-on with everything,” Richards said. “Obviously, a good team, their record (40-10-4) kind of stands for itself. But just the group of guys … he was bang-on with the atmosphere, the dressing room, how everyone enjoys to be around each other and just how much fun it is to come to the rink every morning.

“He told me it was one of his most enjoyable years as a pro and that says a lot for him, he’s been in the league for 15 years now. It’s lived up to everything and more. It’s been great.”

Richards says these 2015-16 Capitals have many of the same qualities as the 2012 and 2014 Stanley Cup champion Kings.

“It’s a fun group,” he said. “When we’re in the gym working out or on the plane I think everyone enjoys being at the rink and around each other. When you have a group like that it’s easy to come to the rink and play hard for each other.

“I think that might get overlooked when you’re putting together a team, but you see championship teams, you can talk to anybody and that’s what they have. Guys who love going to the rink and being together. When you do that you play so much harder for each other.

Statistically, Richards’ first 11 games as a Capital have been underwhelming. Still looking for his first point, he has just six shots, is a minus-1 and has won 55 percent of his faceoffs while averaging 12 minutes a game.

“It’d be nice to contribute offensively,” he said. “I didn’t expect to come in here and just light the lamp every game but I also expected to probably contribute a little bit more. It’s frustrating not getting the success but I think in the last three or four games I’ve been getting a lot more chances and making a lot more plays, so it’ll come eventually. Hopefully sooner than later, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little frustrating.”

Williams, 34, said he’ll be excited to face the Kings for the first time in seven years but maybe not as much as Richards.

“I think maybe Richie will have a few different feelings,” Williams said. “Obviously, we had a lot of success there, but his falling out was a lot different than mine. I’m sure he’ll have a big growl and big will to win that game as well.”

MORE CAPITALS: Mr. Game 7 jacked to play against former team

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Capitals vs. Canucks: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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Capitals vs. Canucks: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Washington Capitals (3-2-2) head to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada after an overtime/shootout loss against the Florida Panthers last Friday. 

The Caps are determined to avoid the devastation they felt in the first period when they gave away four goals to the Panthers. They will need to focus in the power plays and avoid penalties at all costs.

Many fans were looking forward to the reunion with former player Jay Beagle, who is now centerman for the Canucks, but he is unfortunately out on injury. However you can look out for Caps Nic Dowd, who will have his own homecoming game against his former team. 

Here is everything you need to know about Capitals vs. Canucks which takes place at 10:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.


What: Washington Capitals vs. Vancouver Canucks, Game 8 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season

Where: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

When: Monday, October 22 at 10:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: The Capitals vs. Canucks game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Washington Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals vs. Canucks on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM


9:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live
9:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live
10:00 PM: Capitals vs. Canucks
12:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live


Lars Eller, F, Capitals: In his last game, he had a three-point night with three assists. He is a messaive help and shined within the trio of Vrana and Connoly on Friday.

Tim Schaller, F, Canucks: He was struggling in the preseason but came back with a vengeance. He assisted with a penatly kill and is a key component in fourth line. 


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What is a back-up goalie’s job during a game?


What is a back-up goalie’s job during a game?

At the end of every bench in the NHL is a goalie sitting in full pads and a hat. What is his job during the game?

Friday’s game between the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers was one of the rare games that featured four goalies. Braden Holtby and James Reimer started, but both were ultimately pulled in what was a high-scoring affair. In stepped Pheonix Copley and Michael Hutchinson.

And yet, despite being little more than an afterthought in the team’s preparation for the game, both Copley (one goal allowed on 19 shots, .947 save percentage) and Hutchinson (one goal allowed on 11 shots, .909 save percentage) stepped in and out-performed the starters giving both of their respective teams a chance to win the game.

“It's easier in some aspects,” Holtby said of coming into a game off the bench, something he has done at various points of his career despite being the primary starter for Washington. “I think that's why you see a lot of guys go in and have success right away and have good games because you don't have that day or two days to be getting rid of your thoughts and that kind of thing.”

At the end of every bench in the NHL is a goalie sitting in full pads and a hat. Every team dresses two goalies on the roster for a game. One starts and one sits on the bench as the backup in case he is needed because of injury or because a coach chooses to make a goalie switch. That backup is tasked with being ready at all times to step into the game knowing full well that, if all goes according to plan, he will not get to play at all.

Holtby and Reimer had prepared for Friday’s game knowing they were going to start. Both players took warmups in order to prepare them to play a full game while Copley and Hutchinson had little reason to think they would see any action at all.

By the end of the second period, however, both Holtby and Reimer had been replaced. Copley at least had an intermission to prepare as he came on at the start of the second period while Hutchinson had to step in midway through the second period.

“I guess it can be a little challenging,” Copley said, “But I feel like as long as you’re kind of paying attention to the game and your mind's kind of in that hockey mindset then if something happens, I'll be ready to go.”

Professional athletes are creatures of habit. To have to step into a game unexpectedly with little to no warning or preparation and be expected to perform at the highest level is an incredibly tough mental challenge.

And yet, in many ways, it can be easier than starting.

“The whole thing about mental preparation is so that you go out there not thinking about anything, not worrying about any of that,” Holtby said. “When you're forced in with a matter of 30 seconds, there's no time to think about anything. You just go in and play.”

For goalies, not starting does not mean having the night off. Both coaches and teammates alike can lean upon a backup netminder as an extra set of eyes.

“Sometimes they'll ask a question like did it look like I had room there?” Copley said. “Was it a shot or missed? Did you see what happened on this play? So I just try to be there and watch.”

Some coaches even give goalies assignments in game, though that practice seems to be on the decline.

“I know [Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock] makes them look at faceoffs or something,” Holtby said. “It's pretty archaic. There's guys that do that now that are better than the backup goalie at looking at things.”

In truth, there is no defined in-game requirements for most goalies in the NHL when they sit as backups and that is true of the Caps’ tandem. That makes the job of a backup a very simple one.

“I just try and be ready if I have to go in,” Copley said. “Make sure I'm physically and mentally ready and be a good teammate.”

Holtby put it even more succinctly as he said, “Don't do anything stupid.”