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Seeing Braden Holtby pulled was the 'biggest disappointment' for Caps in Monday's loss

Seeing Braden Holtby pulled was the 'biggest disappointment' for Caps in Monday's loss

It’s hard to fault Braden Holtby too much for Monday’s loss. While he did allow three goals on just 11 shots, none of those goals could be labeled “soft.”

Whether Devin Shore was guilty of goalie interference or not, his position in the crease did not allow Holtby to get over to break up a wraparound opportunity that results in Dallas' first goal. The second goal was the result of an egregious turnover from Nicklas Backstrom and the third goal only happens because Dmitry Orlov couldn’t corral the puck off a dump-in by the Stars.

Yet, while Jason Spezza was still celebrating his goal to make the score 3-0, Philipp Grubauer was already grabbing his glove and mask and hopping onto the ice.

“I was just trying to change the momentum a little bit taking Holts out,” head coach Barry Trotz said after the game. “I didn't think we were playing that hard in front of him so once they got three, I felt just change it up and I thought we sort of went from there a little bit better.”

The Caps seemed to respond as they scored the next two goals to pull within one in the third period. Grubauer stopped all 10 shots he faced and Dallas did not score again until an empty-netter from Patrick Sharp late in the game.

The loss ended a 15-game home win streak and prevented Washington from getting its first home win against Dallas since 2006, but the part that stung the most for the team was watching as Holtby was pulled.

“I think the biggest disappointment is Holts getting pulled there,” T.J. Oshie said. “For how many times he's saved us this year and how many wins he's gotten, it's a bad feeling when he has to leave the net.”

Hotlby has been one of the top goalies in the past few months and was named the NHL's Third Star of the Month for February after going 8-0-1 in nine with a 1.88 GAA and .928 save percentage.

Monday’s loss was his first in 20 decisions (17-1-2), snapping a streak dating back to Dec. 29. Dallas remains the lone team Holtby has not beaten, excluding the Capitals. Now he will have to wait until next season for his next chance.

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NHL to move to Phase 2 of return to play plan by June 8

NHL to move to Phase 2 of return to play plan by June 8

The NHL will transition to Phase 2 of its return to play plan, the reopening of team facilities for training activities, on June 8, the league announced Thursday.

Since the season was paused on March 12, the league has considered itself to be in Phase 1 of the plan, meaning self-isolation. While the NHL and NHLPA have made progress off the ice towards a return to play negotiating things such as the playoff format, throughout all those talks the league still remained in Phase 1. This is the first concrete step the NHL has taken towards an eventual return to the ice.

"Beginning June 8 – subject to each Club’s satisfaction of all of the requirements set out in the Phase 2 Protocol – Clubs will be permitted to reopen their training facilities in their home city to allow players to participate in individualized training activities (off-ice and on-ice)," a statement released by the NHL said. "Players will be participating on a voluntary basis and will be scheduled to small groups (i.e., a maximum of six Players at any one time, plus a limited number of Club staff). The various measures set out in the Phase 2 Protocol are intended to provide players with a safe and controlled environment in which to resume their conditioning."

As the statement notes, participation in Phase 2 activities are voluntary and will be limited to six players at a time. The Capitals have not yet set a date for the team's start of Phase 2.

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Phase 3 of the plan is training camp and, despite Thursday's announcement, we remain far off from that point. According to Pierre LeBrun, the earliest the league would start camps is July 10. Phase 4 is then the resumption of the season.

Presumably, Phase 3 will not start without a date set for when Phase 4. It is hard to believe the NHLPA would agree to an indefinite training camp. Phase 2, however, can begin without any formalized dates for Phases 3 and 4.  So while this is certainly a step towards the return of hockey and a sign that things are improving, all the difficult deciions regarding health and safety protocols as well as a timeline for the eventual 2020 postseason are still yet to be decided.

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Pittsburgh Penguins announce unnamed player tested positive for COVID-19

Pittsburgh Penguins announce unnamed player tested positive for COVID-19

An unnamed player on the Pittsburgh Penguins has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, the team announced on Thursday.

"This player is not in Pittsburgh and has been in isolation at home since first experiencing symptoms," the statement said. "He is recovered and feeling well. Those in close contact with the player leading up to the diagnosis have been notified." 

The organization stated that there would be no further updates on the player or situation at this time. 

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The Penguins are one of the 24 teams that will participate in the NHL's new playoff format once the season resumes. As of now, training camp for teams will not begin until July 10 at the earliest and there is still no clear timetable for when games will begin.

This announcement does bring up the question as to what the league will do if a positive diagnosis happens once play starts up again. Though NHL deputy commissioner Billy Daly has stated that he doesn't believe one positive test will halt the entire postseason, a plan will need to be put in place for how to handle a player contracting coronavirus.

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