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New York Islanders will head to Brooklyn

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New York Islanders will head to Brooklyn

When the New York Islanders announced today they’ll be moving to Brooklyn in three years, the reaction around the NHL must have been, “Why wait so long?”

“People on the Island might be mad they weren’t able to get a deal done there,” Capitals veteran winger Jason Chimera said when told of the news. “Hopefully, it will prosper more [in Brooklyn] than in the Island.”

Our sentiments exactly. Nassau Coliseum is the second-oldest arena in the NHL, behind Madison Square Garden. But unlike the Garden, which was beautifully renovated last year, the Coliseum is in desperate need of a facelift.

“It’s the NHL, it’s not like it’s a hard place to play,” Chimera said. “It’s a little run down, but it’s still a hockey rink. We played in a lot worse growing up.”

The Isles began playing at the Coliseum in 1972 and won four Stanley Cups there in the early 1980s. But despite several attempts to rebuild, the Islanders have not been to the playoffs since 2007 and finished with the second-worst attendance in the NHL last season at 13,191, well below the Coliseum’s 16,234 capacity.

The Islanders’ future home, Barclays Center, is also the new home of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets. It currently seats 14,500 for hockey, although NHL commissioner Gary Bettman anticipates the building adding at least 500 more seats by the start of the 2015-16 season.

Even with the extra seating Barclays Center would be the smallest building in the NHL, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing for the Islanders, who will keep their name and logo despit the move inland.

“It’s good for them, I think,” Caps winger Jay Beagle said. “They have a lot of up and coming talent and hopefully they can go to a place that fills the barn and gets sellouts.”

Beagle says he’ll always hold a special place in his heart for the Coliseum since he often played there as a rookie call-up from the Hershey Bears.

“It was my lucky spot, so I have some good memories there,” he said.

The Capitals have had a few defining moments on Long Island as well. They played their first-ever playoff game at the Coliseum back on April 6, 1983 with goalie Pat Riggin between the pipes.

In fact, the Caps and Isles faced each other five straight springs from 1983-87 but have played only once in the playoffs since.

Have a favorite memory of the Coliseum? Join the conversation below.

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Why a smiling Ovechkin was forced to leave Wednesday’s game briefly in the first period

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Why a smiling Ovechkin was forced to leave Wednesday’s game briefly in the first period

A nasty collision between Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie resulted in Ovechkin getting pulled into the locker room in the first period of Wednesday’s Capitals game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Early in the first period, Oshie skated past Morgan Rielly attempting to chip the puck away from him along the boards. As he kept skating, he came directly into the path of Ovechkin and the two collided violently in the neutral zone. Oshie popped up quickly, but Ovechkin stayed down on the ice.

After a few nervous moments, Ovechkin got back onto his feet and was seen smiling on the bench and joking with Oshie about the hit. He also appeared to be grabbing his chest.

A few moments later, head athletic trainer Jason Serbus was seen talking to Ovechkin and Ovechkin got up off the bench and walked into the locker room.

It was later confirmed by the NBCSN broadcast that Ovechkin was pulled by the concussion spotter after it appeared Ovechkin’s face crashed directly into Oshie’s shoulder.

Concussion spotters are authorized to require a player’s removal from play in order to evaluate them for a concussion following a blow to the head. If the player passes all concussion tests and is deemed not to have suffered a concussion, he is able to return.

While it appeared Ovechkin was fine after the hit, the concussion spotter saw enough on the hit to believe Ovechkin needed to be evaluated. It may be an inconvenience, but could prevent players from remaining on the ice after suffering a concussion.

Luckily for the Caps, Ovechkin returned late in the first literally just in time for Washington’s first power play of the game. The Caps did score on the power play, though Ovechkin did not record a point on the play.

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Alex Ovechkin in the lineup shows just how important Wednesday vs. Toronto really is

Alex Ovechkin in the lineup shows just how important Wednesday vs. Toronto really is

The Capitals have one last piece of business to tend to before the All-Star break. They head to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs Wednesday (7:30 p.m., NBCSN) in an absolute must-win for Washington.

Here’s what you need to watch.

Alex Ovechkin is in

Because Ovechkin decided not to participate in the All-Star Game, he has to serve a one-game suspension. The team had the option of Ovechkin missing the last game before the All-Star break or the first game back. Ovechkin was asked after the game Tuesday if he would be playing against the Leafs and he said yes. Head coach Todd Reirden confirmed that he would indeed be playing Wednesday. So, coming off a hat trick performance, Ovechkin will be back in the lineup Wednesday in Toronto.

The decision comes as no surprise. The Caps desperately need a win Wednesday or they will head into the All-Star break on a seven-game losing streak which will fester until the team finally returns to the ice after the bye week.

Ironically enough, the last time Ovechkin played in Toronto was on Nov. 25, 2017, the famous Alex Luey game in which Ovechkin also tallied a hat trick.

By playing Wednesday, Ovechkin will have to sit out the team’s first game back from the break on Feb. 1 against the Calgary Flames.

Who will play in net?

With the high stakes of this game, could we see Braden Holtby back between the pipes despite playing Tuesday? It’s possible.

Reirden said after Tuesday’s game that he had not yet reached a decision on which goalie would play in Toronto. On the one hand, this is a game the team really needs to win so it would make sense to play your top netminder especially before the prolonged All-Star break. On the other, Holtby has really struggled in his past two outings giving up four goals to Chicago on just 11 shots and seven goals to San Jose on 43 shots. Holtby’s break will also be shorter given that he will be participating in the All-Star festivities.

Pheonix Copley has been a dependable backup this season, but he certainly seems to be showing some cracks the last few games. He has given up 14 goals in his last three appearances, one of which was only half a game in Chicago.

It’s been a long time since Washington has lost seven straight

The last time the Caps lost seven straight games was in January 2014.

From Jan. 12 to Jan. 24, the Caps went 0-5-2 in Adam Oates’ second and last season behind the bench. That streak was particularly messy as Washington had three goalies on the roster -- Holtby, Philipp Grubauer and Michal Neuvirth -- and all three played during that stretch.

What should concern Caps fans the most is that not only was that the last time Washington lost seven straight, it was also the last time it missed the playoffs.

Toronto could really use this game too

For any optimists out there thinking maybe the Leafs will be looking ahead to the break and may just mentally take this game off, that’s not going to happen. Toronto needs this game about as much as the Caps do.

The Maple Leafs have lost four of their last five and seven of their last 10. Given what hockey means in Toronto, you can guess what the mood is like in that city. To say people are panicking would be grossly underselling it.

When the puck drops on Wednesday, two desperate hockey teams will be facing off.

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