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Zuccarello reveals he had a skull fracture

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Zuccarello reveals he had a skull fracture

Breakup day is, by far, the most revealing day of the NHL season.

It is the day players, coaches and general managers strip away the rhetoric and tell it like it is. And it is the day for revealing injuries.

When the Capitals had theirs a few weeks ago, center Eric Fehr said hip and shoulder injuries kept him from the lineup, while defenseman Brooks Orpik revealed he missed a game because of a “stupid” mistake in the weight room.

Those were miniscule admissions compared to what Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello revealed on Monday when he told reporters he missed the second and third rounds of the playoffs with a brain contusion and hairline fracture of his skull.

Zuccarello suffered the injuries when he was struck in the head by a shot from Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh in the fifth and final game of the Rangers’ first-round series against the Penguins.

“I was in the hospital for three days,” Zuccarello said. “I couldn't talk for a while. Just had a contusion, some blood in my brain. That affects a lot. Now I go to speech therapy. I'm getting much better. I couldn't say a word for four days. I feel much better.

“I had a small fracture in my head. I lost my talking and some feeling in my arm and stuff.”

With that in mind, you can only imagine the emotions that ran through McDonagh when he visited Zuccarello at a New York hospital after the game.

“I went with the doctor to see him and it was not a very good sight,” McDonagh recalled. “You don’t want to see your teammate in a hospital bed and wires going every which way making sure that he is OK. We wanted to try and communicate with him, but it was a challenge for him. Tough to see a very close friend and a big part of the team go down that way.”

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During the Rangers’ second-round series against the Capitals, Zuccarello was shown on the massive video scoreboard above the ice and waved to the cheering crowd. Now, those fans know just how serious his injury was, even for a hockey player.

“There was a small chance I might play more this year, probably not,” he said. “Obviously, I wish I could play in the Finals, but all you have to think about is the next season.”

The Rangers were eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 on Friday night and Zuccarello said all thoughts on a return have now been pushed to September.

 “There's no reason to speculate that now,” Zuccarello said of the possibility of him playing in the Stanley Cup Final. “… I couldn't talk. I lost everything. It was scary, but the doctors were really good and made sure I knew that I was going to be healthy. After a while I was just happy to recover quickly.”

 

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Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

In what is perhaps the most unexpected Stanley Cup Final pairing in recent memory, the Washington Capitals and the Las Vegas Golden Knights are going to make history this year.

Either it is going to be the first expansion team to win a title in their first season, or it will be a team looking to end a 27-year title drought for one of the biggest cities in the United States.

But what it will not be is the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup.

Going even farther back than the Capitals last Stanley Cup appearance (1998), the Georgetown Hoyas and UNLV Rebels met in the 1991 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Sin City took the first, and up until now, the only postseason bout between these two cities. The Larry Johnson-led University of Las Vegas squad powered right past the Hoyas in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.

[D.C. sports and Second Rounds, I know right?]

Coming fresh off the NCAA title in 1990, UNLV waltzed right to the Final Four before meeting their demise against Duke. It also ended up being the last game for Dikembe Mutombo in a Georgetown uniform.

While in all likely-hood this will not be the final game/ series for Alex Ovechkin rocking the red, it may be his last and only chance for him to play this far into a postseason.

In the past two seasons, Vegas has gone from zero professional teams to having a Stanley Cup contender, a WNBA franchise, and lined up to take over the Oakland Raiders in 2020. 

Now time for the Golden Knights' Cinderella story to come up a little bit short. 

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Capitals listed as underdogs in their first Stanley Cup since 1998

Capitals listed as underdogs in their first Stanley Cup since 1998

The odds have never gone the way of the Washington Capitals.

After years of being the common pick to finally break through and win the Stanley Cup, this was most definitely not the year.

Yet, here we are with the Capitals as one of the final two teams standing.

For their upcoming Stanley Cup Final, the Caps are the underdogs against the Las Vegas Golden Knights.  The opening line from OddsShark has the Golden Knights as -135 money line favorites to win the Stanley Cup. The Capitals were listed as +115 underdogs.

Vegas (the betting entity, not the team) has not exactly been the most reliable this year though. After all, the Golden Knights were 100/1 odds to win the whole thing. Now they are four games away.

In their past two series, Washington was not the favorites. The Capitals have not been favorites since the First Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

For years in the Alex Ovechkin era, they have been the favorites to not only go on to play for the Stanley Cup but winning it.

In 2018 they started the season tied for the fifth best odds to win the Cup (14/1), one of their lowest opening marks in the past decade. For the full perspective, Washington was tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs and behind the Dallas Stars at the start of the season.

Without question this underdog role has fit them quite well, they shouldn’t want anything to change heading into the biggest postseason series in 20 years for Washington D.C.

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