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Presidents' Trophy a 'symbol of excellence' but not what the Caps seek

Presidents' Trophy a 'symbol of excellence' but not what the Caps seek

The Capitals’ clinching scenario for Wednesday night couldn’t be any more straightforward:

If the Capitals do indeed clinch the Presidents’ Trophy, it will mark the third time in franchise history that they’ve finished the regular season with the NHL’s best record.

RELATED: Playoff opponent watch: Was Tuesday's game a playoff preview?

In 2010, they secured the trophy on April 4 (with four games remaining). Last year, they wrapped it up on March 28 (with seven games remaining.) After hosting the Rangers, the Caps will have two games left on their slate—at Boston on Saturday and home against the Panthers on Sunday. If they win out, the Caps will equal last season’s point total of 120.

The last team to win back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies was the Canucks in 2010-11 and 2011-12.

Caps Coach Barry Trotz told The Sports Junkies on Wednesday morning that the team has not discussed the Presidents’ Trophy, which ensures home ice throughout the playoffs.

“Honestly, we haven't talked about it once this year, the Presidents’ Trophy or anything like that,” he said. “But it is a symbol of excellence, a symbol of excellence for the regular season, a symbol of excellence for a team that’s been consistent and takes pride in winning. So it’s not to be taken lightly, but at the same time we all want the ultimate prize.”

“That’s the one,” he added, “that you make your name with.”  

The Rangers, who are virtually locked into the first wild card spot, will rest four key players— Ryan McDonagh, Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello and Jesper Fast—on Wednesday night.

The Capitals, meantime, could again be without John Carlson, who was a late scratch Tuesday with a lower body injury. He’s day-to-day.

In goal, the Caps are expected to start Braden Holtby while the Rangers counter with Henrik Lundqvist.

GAME THREAD: Caps vs. Rangers date, time, how to watch

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Newest Caps defenseman Radko Gudas happy for a fresh start in D.C.

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Newest Caps defenseman Radko Gudas happy for a fresh start in D.C.

Radko Gudas was surprised, but also relieved. A different year in Philadelphia, where everything seemed to go wrong for the Flyers, is behind him now. He plays for the Capitals now. 


“I was a little bit shocked to be honest,” Gudas said in a conference call on Tuesday. “But when I heard where I'm going, I was pretty happy that I got traded to a team that's well known for their winning and their will to win every game they play.”


It capped a whirlwind few days for the 29-year-old, a polarizing figure in the sport along the lines of Washington forward Tom Wilson. Gudas has been suspended four times by the NHL Department of Player Safety. To say he plays the game on the edge is an understatement.


“Staying on right line of suspensions: It's always tough lately in the hockey these last few years,” Gudas said. “I worked on it in the summer and I thought I adjusted the game enough to still be able to play physical, just not be a liability out there for my team. It's always something hard to adjust, but we still have to do it. It's our job.”


In the midst of a rough year for Philadelphia that saw a coach firing and a late playoff surge fall short, Gudas took advantage of increased ice time – and cut his penalty minutes to 63 from a high of 116 when he joined the Flyers four years earlier. He will never be a big offensive threat, but he’s figured out how to suppress shots and play a reliable defensive game.


At a friend’s wedding in the Czech Republic on Friday when he got the news, Gudas received messages from his new teammates and wasn’t even sure who, exactly, of the Capitals coaches he spoke with. There was a lot going on. But he’s excited to play “for a well oiled machine” like Washington, which has its 2018 Stanley Cup and has won the Metropolitan Division four years in a row. 


Gudas knows fellow Washington defenseman Michal Kempny, 29, well. The two men were born just three months apart in 1990 and were teammates on the World Juniors under-18 Czech Republic team in 2008. They reconnected in 2017 for the Czech Republics’ entry in the IIHF World Championships. Jakub Vrana, 23, is a third Czech on one of the NHL’s most diverse rosters and played with Gudas at the 2019 World Championships. Kempny was still recovering from a torn hamstring sustained during the regular season. 


That familiarity is nice, but Gudas has been traded before when Tampa Bay sent him to Philadelphia in 2015. You just adjust to the role given with your new team. He’s ready for a fresh start with the Capitals. 


“They’re the winners from last year, they were the contenders this year,” Gudas said. “They always have a good team. They in the playoffs every year all these years. Play my simple game, the guys to know what to expect for me and know I’ll be there for them.”

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Capitals Talk hosts "Capitals On the Clock" special: How to watch, live stream, listen

Capitals Talk hosts "Capitals On the Clock" special: How to watch, live stream, listen

With the NHL Draft just a few days away in Vancouver and after countless mock drafts, NBC Sports Washington will have you covered as the Capitals decide who to take with the 25th overall pick.

As part of NBC Sports Washington's coverage of the NHL Draft, the Capitals Talk Podcast will host 'Capitals On the Clock: Draft Night' on linear television and as a live stream on the NBC Sports MyTeams app.

Capitals Talk will sit down with Rob Carlin, Grant Paulsen, Al Koken, Michael Jenkins, J.J. Regan and Brian McNally to discuss the Capitals the 2019 Draft. They'll be joined by Zack Fisch, Manager of Media Relations & Broadcasting with the Hershey Bears, who will shed light on who's ready to make the jump from the AHL to the NHL.

The live stream will also include an NHL and Capitals Draft trivia segment which fans will be able to play along with.

And if you haven't already downloaded the MyTeams App, you can do so right now, RIGHT HERE.

Capitals Talk Podcast "Capitals on the Clock" Special

When: 8 p.m. Friday June 21

Where: NBC Sports Washington and NBC Sports MyTeams App