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Ovechkin receiving much praise, blame for Game 7 loss

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Ovechkin receiving much praise, blame for Game 7 loss

When you are one of the best players in the NHL, the spotlight is on you in the playoffs. When you have never made it past the second round, give up a 3-1 series lead and guarantee a win in Game 7, there is going to be some scrutiny when you fall short of that mark. That is where Alex Ovechkin stands after Wednesday's Game 7 loss to the New York Rangers.

The Great 8 did his part, scoring the Caps' lone goal of the night and recording six shots on goal and three hits. To some, Ovechkin backed up his words with his stellar effort.

NBC announcer Pierre McGuire had high praise for the Caps' captain saying he was "valiant in defeat." ESPN analyst and mullet enthusiast Barry Melrose also was passionate in his defense of Ovechkin.

"[Ovechkin] was great in [Game7]," Melrose said. "He got the goal, he hit everything that moved, he had the most shots, he was tracking down every loose puck, he just worked and worked and worked. And yet, he's the guy who's going to be nailed tomorrow in the press. I don't think it's fair."

Melrose went on to say Ovechkin gave his "heart and soul."

Shockingly, NBC analyst Mike Milbury was not impressed.

"It'll be long forgotten that he scored a goal in this one," Milbury said. "It'll [just be] remembered that he promised the victory and it wasn't delivered."

Milbury also said, however, that Ovechkin gave the Caps a chance to win and that the game could have gone either way. That's about as close to praise from Milbury as you're going to get.

You can see Milbury's full reaction here:

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USA Today's For the Win page had a more definitive take in their article published Thursday with the headline "Alex Ovechkin is the most underachieving MVP in NHL history." You can guess whether or not there was a positive spin on this one. As a three-time MVP winner--possibly four if he wins next month--Ovechkin is the only multi-time MVP to never win a Stanley Cup which statistically justifies their claim.

Rangers fans of course had their own reaction.

RELATED: Ovi did his best to be Game 7 hero

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D.C. artist turns her love for the Washington Capitals into works of art

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@tkopaintings on Twitter

D.C. artist turns her love for the Washington Capitals into works of art

Local artist Taylor Kampa has taken her love for the Washington Capitals and turned it into works of art. 

You can find paintings done by Kampa of Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, John Carlson and Braden Holtby on display at Circa Chinatown – a restaurant neighboring Capital One Arena – along with other D.C. celebrities.

A professional artist for the last decade, Kampa told NHL.com that the pictures were "passion projects," and took about eight hours to finish. She became a fan of the Caps after she began dating her now-husband back in 2009.

Her work has even caught the eye of The Great Eight. After posting a video to Instagram of her painting Ovechkin hoisting the Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner liked and commented on it. 

"I almost died," Kampa said.

"It has been amazing sharing something that I am excited about that resonates with the people in my city," Kampa said. "I've been painting these portraits for a long time, so it's awesome to have them seen by so many people."

Kampa will also create paintings for the Capitals foundation's annual Casino Night fundraiser next year. 

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Key Caps questions: Who will play center on the fourth line?

Key Caps questions: Who will play center on the fourth line?

The dog days of summer are officially here, but it's never too hot to talk some hockey.

Capitals correspondent JJ Regan is here to help you through the offseason doldrums as he discusses key questions facing the Caps for the upcoming season as Washington prepares to defend its title for the first time in franchise history.

Today's question: Who will be the team's primary fourth line center?

With the departure of Jay Beagle, there is a spot open at center on the fourth line. There appears on the roster to be three clear candidates to fill that position: Chandler Stephenson, Travis Boyd and Nic Dowd.

To find out why you should cross Stephenson’s name off the list, you should read yesterday's Key Caps Question about whether or not Stephenson is a wing or a center. To summarize, Washington sees Stephenson as more of a wing which explains why they both re-signed Boyd and brought in Dowd.

So who will it be between those two?

Both players seem to fit the mold as effective centers in the AHL where they were both productive. Dowd has an edge in NHL experience with 131 NHL games as compared to Boyd’s eight.

But Barry Trotz clearly had faith in Boyd at center which is why we saw him fill in on the top line on March 18 in Philadelphia. Boyd rewarded that faith with a spin pass to Alex Ovechkin for an assist, his first career point.

Trotz is now gone and Todd Reirden is in charge, but there is at least a level of familiarity there with the coaching staff and Boyd, more so than with Dowd who is new to the organization.

Second, the Caps may have tipped their hand a bit when you compare the two contracts. Center is an important position and Brian MacLellan has frequently referenced the team’s strength in center depth as a major reason for their Cup run.

Both Boyd and Dowd were signed over the offseason. Both contracts are one-way, suggesting both will be in the NHL, but Boyd’s cap hit is $800,000 while Dowd’s is $650,000. Of course, that will not matter when the players get on the ice. If Dowd outplays Boyd, he will start over him. Plus, the market ultimately dictates price. Even if the Caps wanted Dowd for their top line, if you can get him for $650k, you sign him for $650k.

Considering how important a position center is, however, even on the fourth line, it seems telling that the team was willing to give Boyd, a player with eight games of experience to his name, $800k while Dowd was signed for the minimum. That seems to suggest the Caps at least foresee Boyd having a bigger role which, for two players penciled in for the fourth line, would mean playing him at center.

Other key Caps questions: