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Vegas likes Chicago to repeat, not high on the Caps


Vegas likes Chicago to repeat, not high on the Caps

Before Chicago fans could even recover from their Stanley Cup party hangover, Vegas already released their Stanley Cup odds on Tuesday for who would win the Cup in 2016. But don't worry Blackhawks fans, the wiseguys think the party is going to go on for another year.

According to the odds released by Bovada, the Blackhawks are the favorites to hoist the Cup yet again in 2016 at 7/1 followed by the New York Rangers at 8/1. Considering what the Rangers have given up in recent years to build a championship contender and the fact that the Rangers have not had a first-round draft pick since 2012, many pointed to this season as make or break run for New York. Evidently Vegas believes reports of their demise have been greatly exaggerated.

As for the Caps' turnaround in Washington, Vegas isn't buying it. The Caps fell all the way to 12th with 18/1 odds to win. Considering that the team came within one goal of reaching the conference finals, that seems a bit harsh, but with numerous expiring contracts there is a lot of uncertainty over what this roster may look like in the fall. This could be a very different team come October.

Still, it is hard to understand how a team like Pittsburgh can be favored over the Caps.

That's right the Penguins were tied for 6th at 14/1 with Los Angeles, Minnesota and Montreal. Somehow, despite losing to the Rangers in five games in the first round and rumors of the team seeking to trade Evgeni Malkin, Mike Johnston's squad still looks like the better bet to Vegas.

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Boston also sits ahead of the Caps at 16/1. After not making the playoffs in 2015 and a quiet start to the offseason that included firing their general manager, the Bruins are evidently more likely to hoist Lord Stanley's chalice than the Caps.

To be fair, captain Alex Ovechkin is growing older and will be 30 at the start of the 2015-16 season. It is easy to see how the oddsmakers could be more confident in a Boston team led by the youthful 38-year-old Zdeno Chara.

Despite initial rumblings that former Caps' coach Bruce Boudreau could be canned in Anaheim, the Ducks came in at third on the list with 10/1 odds, followed by St. Louis and Tampa Bay at 12/1. Connor McDavid fever has spread to the desert as the hapless Edmonton Oilers were given 33/1 odds, tied with Detroit and Columbus for 15th.

Mike Babcock will have his work cut out for him in Toronto as the Leafs were given only 66/1 odds. All the way at the bottom at 100/1 are Buffalo, Carolina and Arizona. Perhaps a more interesting bet would be on where the Coyotes will call home next season after the city of Glendale ended the team's lease at Gila River Arena.

So grab another slice of deep-dish pizza and a Polish sausage, Chicago fans! The dynasty will stretch into 2016.

MORE CAPITALS TALK: End of season review: Justin Peters

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Capitals' T.J. Oshie had so much fun golfing, drinking through shirt again at celebrity golf tournament

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Capitals' T.J. Oshie had so much fun golfing, drinking through shirt again at celebrity golf tournament

Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo may have won the American Century Championships celebrity golf tournament this weekend, but T.J. Oshie definitely had the most fun.

Using the Modified Stableford scoring format for the tournament — which included several pro and retired athletes, such as Steph Curry, Aaron Rodgers, Larry Fitzgerald, Carson Palmer, Charles Barkley and Joe Pavelski — Oshie finished with 11 points, tying for 48th with NFL Hall of Famer Tim Brown and Golf Channel host Lisa Cornwell. 

But the Capitals' winger's score didn't really matter because Oshie was out on the Lake Tahoe golf course in Nevada just having fun with his family and continuing the epic celebration as a new Stanley Cup champion. Obviously, that meant playing and chugging a beer through his t-shirt as 'We Are The Champions' played.

His brother, Taylor, was his caddy, and at one point, Oshie borrowed his brother's beer helmet while putting. He sunk it, and it was amazing.

Yeah, Oshie had a great weekend. Here's a look at some other moments from his weekend on Lake Tahoe.


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Key Caps questions: How will the Caps look different under Todd Reirden?


Key Caps questions: How will the Caps look different under Todd Reirden?

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

Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir and Capitals correspondent JJ Regan are here to help you through the offseason doldrums. They will discuss 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: How will the Caps look different under new head coach Todd Reirden?

Tarik: It’s an important topic, but let’s not overthink this one. Since winning the Stanley Cup on June 7, the organization has pretty much telegraphed EXACTLY what it hopes will occur in 2018-19. Consider:

  • Todd Reirden was promoted after spending four years as Barry Trotz’s assistant, including the last two years as an associate coach with an expanded role. Reirden already knows everyone, from the players to the trainers and other support staff. He knows what buttons to push and when to push them. There’s a built-in comfort level and trust that should allow everyone to hit the ground running in September.
  • Four of Reirden’s assistants are holdovers, too. The one newcomer, Reid Cashman, is joining the group from Hershey and is a Reirden disciple. So, no adjustment period there, either.
  • Assuming restricted free agent Tom Wilson re-ups (and that would seem to be a very safe assumption), the Caps are bringing back 11 of the 12 forwards that were on the ice for Game 5 in Las Vegas. They’re also bringing back five of six defensemen. And the starting goaltender. Chemistry is a hard thing to explain and/or quantify. But you know when a team has it. And the Caps had it at the end of last year.

So if you look at what GM Brian MacLellan has been doing in recent weeks—and have been listening to what Reirden has been saying publicly—you can only come to one conclusion. The decision-makers feel they discovered the right mix of personnel and systems play at the end of the playoffs, from the defensive structure to special teams. In fact, they were first in goals per game, second-best on the power play and the fourth stingiest team in the postseason.

“Many of my [philosophies] were involved in how we were going to play, how our team was going to look, the identity that we had,” Reirden said on The Junkies recently, referring to last year’s game plan. “So, from a systems standpoint, I would say not much is going to change, at least initially, just because it seemed to work. …You’ll see much of the same.”

That doesn’t mean Reirden won’t make adjustments. He will because he’ll have to over the course of an 82-game regular season and, hopefully, another long postseason run. But it does underscore the fact that the foundation upon on which last year’s championship team was built is going to look awfully familiar. And that's clearly by design.

JJ:  The message from the Caps ever since Reirden was promoted to head coach has been one of consistency as they try to make a seamless transition to the new head coach. In that sense, we probably won't see many changes at all to start the season.

The Capitals just won the Stanley Cup and general manager Brian MacLellan worked to bring almost the exact same roster back for next season. Coming into the locker room saying there's a new sheriff in town and making drastic changes is not the way to go here

But that doesn't mean Reirden will do things the same way.

Reirden has coached at the college, AHL and NHL level. He has seen firsthand how Dan Bylsma won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins and how Trotz did it in Washington. He also saw what didn't work.

Reirden got to this point by developing relationships with the players. He is much more of a players' coach than Trotz and that will be evident in training camp. I also expect there will be a much greater emphasis on development. Trotz famously said to the media that the NHL was not a development league, but a performance league. I expect Reirden to take a different approach.

After failing to win with veteran-laden teams, the Caps finally hoisted the Cup last season after getting significant contributions from young prospects such as Jakub Vrana, Chandler Stephenson, Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey. Like it or not, the Caps' core will not last forever. Every year those players like Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson get another year older. I do not believe a coach who is as good at reaching players and developing them as Reirden is will be quite as reluctant to reach down onto the farm and sprinkle youth throughout his lineup whenever the team needs a spark.

It should not be lost on anyone that one of Reirden's new assistant coaches this year will be Reid Cashman, promoted from being an assistant with the Hershey Bears in the AHL. This is all good news for players like Lucas Johansen, Jonas Siegenthaler and Connor Hobbs, the team's three best defensive prospects who are hoping to have an impact at the NHL level sooner rather than later. The Caps roster is pretty loaded, but at the very least you can expect Reirden to have a hand in helping those players along at training camp.

Ultimately, the product on the ice is going to look almost exactly the same at the start of the season with the biggest changes coming off the ice. We won't see who Reirden is as an NHL coach, however, until we let the full 82-game season play out.