They wont come right out and say it because, well, they're not permitted to do so.But its a safe bet Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, generalmanager George McPhee and head coach Adam Oates are not embracing the idea oftheir captain, Alex Ovechkin, playing for Dynamo Moscow of the KontinentalHockey League.Do they want their 27-year-old franchise player to stay inshape? Yes. Do they want him to skate? Yes. Do they want to see him throwinghis body all over the ice and risking injury?Of course not.But if you ask Ovechkins teammates how they feel about theircaptain playing overseas, they overwhelmingly support it.I do, Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom said afterparticipating in an hour-long skate at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. If he wantsto play there thats perfect. Thats his hometown and his home team, so thatsperfect.Backstrom returned to the Washington area two weeks ago and is hopefulthe Swedish Elite League drops its provision of signing NHL players to one-yearcontracts that do not allow players to return to the NHL in the event of a laboragreement.I think theyre keeping us locked out, too, Backstromsaid.Capitals left wing Jason Chimera said that if NHL team ownersare concerned about their players getting injured overseas they should get to thebargaining table and hammer out a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.The owners are not too concerned because theyre not tryingto get a deal done, Chimera said. Guys want to play hockey. Were not onstrike; were locked out.You risk getting an injury driving to the rink today moresothan playing hockey. There are more bad drivers out there than bad skaters.Guys want to play and thats the bottom line.Earlier this week, Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth agreedin principle to a contract with Sparta Praha of the Czech Extraliga. Thatcontract is expected to be finalized in the coming days, allowing Neuvirth to practicewith his former team. Once that contract is finalized Neuvirth will join Ovechkinas the two Capitals who have committed to play in Europe.That number is expected to grow in the coming weeks.The longer were locked out the more of a chance there isthat more players are going to go play, Capitals forward Matt Hendricks said. Forus to sit out and not play an entire season is crazy. We cant afford to dothat. We need to keep playing this game. We love the game; itspart of who we are. The longer this continues the more guys I suspect will bejumping over the pond.
The 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship is coming to a close this Memorial Day weekend.
After two weeks, the sixteen team field has been narrowed down to four with the world championship now on the line in Slovakia.
The two group winners, Canada, the top-ranked team in the world and 26-time IIHF Champions, and Russia, who rolled through the group stage with a 7-0 record and a +29 goal differential, are the favorites. Russia overwhelmingly has played like the best team in Slovakia, outscoring its opponents 40-10 behind Nikita Kucherov's 16 points in eight games.
The Russian/ Soviet Union team is the only team with more titles than the Canadians with 27 (five as Russia, 22 as the Soviet Union).
Washington Capital Alex Ovechkin is playing for Team Russia. In eight games he's scored two goals and recorded an assist.
Canada will face off against the Czech Republic, whose only loss came against the Russians in group play, with a spot to the Finals on the line. Russia will play Finland for the last spot in the gold medal match.
Three of the four teams remaining (Russia, Canda, and the Czech Republic) are the winningest teams in the IIHF's history. The four semifinalists have combined to win 67 of the 82 IIHF World Championships.
When is the 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals?
The 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals will take place at 8:15 p.m. local time (2:15 p.m. ET) on Sunday, May 26. The bronze medal match will precede the gold medal match at 3:45 p.m. local time (9:15 a.m. ET).
2019 IIHF World Championship Schedule:
There are only four matches left in the 2019 IIHF World Championship. The two semifinals, the bronze medal match, and the gold medal match.
No. 3 Russia vs. No. 5 Finland, 9:15 a.m. ET, May 25
No. 1 Canada vs. No. 6 Czech Republic, 1:15 p.m. ET, May 25
BRONZE MEDAL MATCH:
Loser of Semifinal No. 1 vs. Loser of Semifinal No. 2, 9:45 a.m. ET, May 26
GOLD MEDAL MATCH:
Winner of Semifinal No. 1 vs. Winner of Semifinal No. 2, 2:15 p.m. ET, May 26
How to watch or stream the 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals:
All games at the IIHF World Championships will be broadcast on NHL Network.
Who is playing in the 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals?
The 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals will be played between the winner of Russia (8-0-0)/ Finland (7-0-1) and Canada (7-1-0)/ Czech Republic (7-0-1).
Lineups for the 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals:
Lineups for the 2019 IIHF Championship Finals will be announced on the morning of May 26.
When the St. Louis Blues woke up on Jan. 3, they were in dead last in the NHL. A 15-18-4 record gave them 34 points, less than teams like the Los Angeles Kings and the Ottawa Senators who would go on to finish the season as the two worst teams. Yes, St. Louis had played in only 37 games to that point, the fewest in the league, but finding a way to climb back into the playoff hunt seemed daunting and unlikely.
Now the Blues are the Western Conference champions and stand just four wins away from the Stanley Cup.
The Blues have been one of the best stories of the NHL season climbing from last place to the Stanley Cup Final. When looking back at St. Louis’ season, there are several moments one can point to as key moments in the turnaround. Craig Berube replaced Mike Yeo as head coach on Nov. 20 and goalie Jordan Binnington got his first start with the Blues on Jan. 7 and never gave back the crease.
But the turnaround really started on Jan. 3. On that morning, the Blues were in last place. That would be the last day they would find themselves there.
And it all started with a 5-2 win against the Washington Capitals.
On Jan. 3, St. Louis and Washington looked like two teams headed in opposite directions. While the Blues were in last place, the Caps were rolling with a 24-11-3 record, first in the Metropolitan Division. Washington came into St. Louis on a five-game road winning streak. As if that wasn’t enough, the Blues were also without sniper Vladimir Tarasenko.
And yet, what looked like an easy win for the Caps turned into anything but. Robert Thomas scored a deflection just four minutes into the game. Washington managed to take a 2-1 lead early in the second, but St. Louis rattled off four straight goals for the 5-2 win. With Washington down only 3-2 heading into the third period, the Blues but on a possession clinic outshooting Washington 14-2 in the final frame.
"We stayed aggressive," Alex Pietrangelo told reporters. "When we're playing in the O zone, the best way to play defense is to play in their end. We kept the puck, we moved the puck, we worked. Forwards were great tonight, protecting the center of the ice. It kind of took their playmakers out of the game."
The Caps’ first shot came 13 minutes into the third. By then, the Blues already had 12 shots and two goals.
Over the course of an 82-game season, teams will lose games against teams they shouldn’t. This felt different. Watching this game, you did not come away thinking the Caps played down to an inferior team. The Blues dominated that game and the Caps knew it.
“They were skating, competing harder, won races, more determined than we were,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “If we’re being honest about it, we didn’t have a very good game, and they played a pretty darn good game.”
More importantly, St. Louis realized it as well. They knew following the game that this was a win and a performance they could build on.
“I think we out-chanced them, so we're building here at even strength,” Pietrangelo said. “It's just a matter of keeping it at even strength and scoring goals. Tonight the goals weren't necessarily pretty but we created a lot of chances."
That night proved to be the first night of the turnaround. From Jan. 3 on, no team in the NHL earned more points than St. Louis’ 65, not even the Tampa Bay Lightning who won the Presidents’ Trophy with an incredible 128 points.
St. Louis was not expected to be bad this season. The team made a number of offseason moves to bolster the roster and many thought they could be real contenders, but they sure did not play like it through the first half of the season. It took a big win over the defending Stanley Cup champs to show them and everyone else just how good they really were. From that point on, they never looked back.
MORE CAPITALS NEWS:
- Mailbag Part 1: Looking ahead to a busy offseason
- Take a break: Ovechkin to get long rest after Worlds
- Siegenthaler Stays: Swiss defenseman to prove himself next season
- Gersich Returns: Caps re-sign forward to a new contract