May 5, 2015

PHOTOS: Washington Capitals Morning Practice, April 15

Dave and I are back in DC for a visit so we went over to Kettler Iceplex this morning, Wednesday, April 15 to watch the Washington Capitals practice. We’re looking forward to the Caps hosting the Islanders for game one of the Stanley Cup Playoffs round one at Verizon Center tonight!

Here are a handful of photos from practice. It was great to take hockey photos again! Enjoy the photos. Hope to see many of you at the game tonight!

Nicklas Backstrom - Caps Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

Nicklas Backstrom – Caps Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

Mike Green - Caps Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

Mike Green – Caps Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

Braden Holtby making a glove save during Caps Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

Braden Holtby making a glove save during Caps Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

Tom Wilson skated at practice, however, will not be playing tonight - Caps Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

Tom Wilson skated at practice, however, will not be playing tonight – Caps Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

Captain Alex Ovechkin waiting on a pass - Caps Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

Captain Alex Ovechkin waiting on a pass – Caps Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

Brooks Laich - Caps Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

Brooks Laich – Caps Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

Backstrom takes a shot on Peters - Caps Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

Backstrom takes a shot on Peters – Caps Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

Karl Alzner - Caps Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

Karl Alzner – Caps Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

Brooks Orpik - Caps Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

Brooks Orpik – Caps Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

Caps Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

Caps Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

Gleason cracked a smile during practice and Trotz mentioned it during presser - Caps Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

Gleason cracked a smile during practice and Trotz mentioned it during presser – Caps Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

Caps Head Coach Barry Trotz addressing media after Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

Caps Head Coach Barry Trotz addressing media after Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

 

Winter Classic: Commissioner Gary Bettman’s media availability

Posted in it’s entirety, for your amazement and enjoyment. [courtesy NHL Media Relations]

COMMISSIONER BETTMAN:  Good afternoon, everyone.  Happy New Year.  We’re delighted that you were able to join us here today.  What a spectacular afternoon we had here at Nationals Park.

I want to first start by thanking the Nationals organization, especially Mark Lerner, for welcoming us into their home and letting us dress it up and turn it into a hockey venue for the day. I also want to thank the Blackhawks for participating and being so cooperative.  Obviously, the players and from Rocky Wirtz on down, the Caps’ Ted Leonsis, what can you say?

What you saw here today from 43,000 people was a level of enthusiasm for hockey, for the Capitals, that I’m not sure many people imagined could ever have been accomplished here in Washington.  And it’s a testament to Ted Leonsis and his passion for the game, his passion for the Capitals, and his passion for this community.

He insisted, he was persistent, he was relentless in pursuit of this game and it was because he wanted it for Washington DC. The atmosphere couldn’t have been greater.  The weather was spectacular.  I have to congratulate my own special events people for the way they dressed up this park.  I mean, the replica Capitol Building, the reflecting pool, actually somebody showed me a picture of somebody skating on the reflecting pool in 1918 to give you a sense of how far these things go back here.  But it made for a fun day.

A lot of people were probably out late last night, but that didn’t stop tens of thousands of people from being in spectator plaza and tailgating at nine o’clock in the morning. All in all it’s been a fun day.  We had a competitive, entertaining game, and so I just want to again thank everyone, but most importantly the players, for participating and enjoying the experience, and all the great fans who turned out.

Each of these games — I know they get compared one outdoor game to another: they’re all unique, they’re all different, they’re all special in their own way.  And that’s the way we like to try and do it. And I don’t know what people’s expectations were for our event here today, but the Winter Classic here in Washington couldn’t have been better from a fan experience and an entertainment standpoint. And on that note, I’m happy to take questions

Q.  Ted said that he thought that part of the reason they got the Winter Classic was just so that you wanted him to leave you alone.  Can you talk about his efforts over the years and what you were looking for?

COMMISSIONER BETTMAN:  The fact of the matter is, we wouldn’t have brought the Winter Classic here, despite Ted’s persistence, if we didn’t think it was right.  It’s Ted’s persistence, not just in pursuing this event, but in making the Caps such an important part of the sports scene in Washington. It’s Ted’s pursuit and persistence — in making the Capitals such an important part of the community – that brought us to the point that we believed that by bringing the Winter Classic to Washington we could have a great event and that’s what we had.

So, yes, it’s his persistence, but it wasn’t just in harassing me — and it’s not harassing, because Ted’s a great owner and his passion is phenomenal — but the point is, it’s everything he does about the way he conducts this organization, that enabled us to be more than comfortable that we could successfully bring the Winter Classic to Washington.

Q.  You said every game is unique.  What was memorable about this particular Winter Classic?  I know it’s only like a half hour after, but.

COMMISSIONER BETTMAN:  Well, we’ll take a deep breath.  Putting aside for a minute that we had a very competitive, entertaining game, just when you came in here and you saw the way we took a modern venue, and, because it was modern, we could dress it.  And the Capitol Building, the reflecting pool, the military presence, the entertainment between periods, these were all things that created a fun environment for our fans. Again, this is an event that takes the game back to its roots. So many people learn to skate and play hockey outdoors, as young kids, and it conjures up memories of that.

When you look at something that was focused on being in the U.S. nation’s capital and you look at the way Don Renzulli dressed up his events people dressed up the building, it gave it that special feeling. By the way, in addition to thanking Don, and special events people, I would be remiss if I didn’t also thank Dan Craig, the world’s expert in making ice under any circumstances and conditions.  And Colie Campbell who runs hockey operations.

We had some decisions that we had to make before the game, including when to start the game, and it was a fully coordinated effort. And we had the cooperation of the Players’ Association in these endeavors, which is always a good thing as well.

Q.  Can you talk about before the game during warm ups about starting on time versus delaying it?

COMMISSIONER BETTMAN: We decided that we would have the players come out and warm up and see how comfortable they were with the sun conditions.  The ice was fine; that was never an issue.

The report we got back from Corey Crawford, the goaltender who was in the sun for Chicago, that he was comfortable, and the two captains told us that they were comfortable and we decided to switch ends — just to make sure that nobody had any issues about fairness at the 10-minute mark.  It worked out perfectly well.  It was a non-issue.

For us, the primary issue, if there was to be an issue, was player safety.  Once we were comfortable that that wasn’t going to be an issue, everyone decided — I decided it was time to go and play on time.

NHL trying to put Olympics on ice

On Saturday morning, fans across America celebrated an absolutely incredible Olympic shootout win over Russia. People across the country woke up early and were rewarded with an amazing game that somehow lived up to all of the hype. Americans cheered and tweeted all day about USA’s incredible victory.

Meanwhile NHL commissioner Gary Bettman sat in his ivory tower, arms crossed, watching disapprovingly as his sport took center stage and NHL players did their sport proud.

Ok, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but Saturday’s game shows the absurdity of the NHL’s desire to pull its players from future Olympic participation.

Both Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly have expressed the owner’s desire to keep the players out of future Olympic tournaments and the league does have valid concerns. Fans may have had the opportunity to watch Saturday’s game because it landed on the weekend, but except for the few times the Olympics are held in North America, the foreign schedule is not conducive for a large TV audience.

It doesn’t matter how great the games are if no one is watching.

Olympic participation also means a two-to-three week break in the NHL season. That stops the league’s momentum at a time when it is no longer competing with the NFL for an audience. It is hard to bring fans back after such a long break.

There is also the obvious injury concern as players can injure themselves playing in what essentially amount to exhibition games in the NHL’s eyes.

Is it worth risking the health of the league’s best players and the fans’ patience for a tournament that most people won’t even be able to watch?

Given where the next Olympics will be held and how long it took for the NHL to approve player participation in Sochi, there will likely be a real fight for the players to represent their national teams in four years.

When the NHL first hinted its displeasure with the Olympics, Alex Ovechkin made it clear he was going to Sochi regardless, saying he would go even if the season did not pause for an Olympic break. The 2018 Olympics will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea. It is doubtful he will make same threat then.

The real fight for the future of NHL Olympic participation is going to be for Pyeongchang. With so many Canadian stars, the NHL would have had a hard time keeping the players out of Vancouver four years ago and the same goes for Sochi.

There aren’t any South Korean superstars in the NHL. While representing one’s country is always important, Pyeongchang just will not carry the same importance as either Vancouver or Sochi.

That doesn’t mean, however, that players won’t fight to play in the Olympics. Despite what the NHL may think, ending their Olympics participation would be bad for the sport and for business.

The NHL season grinds to a halt every year already for an All-Star event that many fans really do not care about. Though the All-Star break is not as long as the Olympic break, there is no question that Olympic hockey generates more interest among fans than the All-Star game.

The NHL is also underestimating the world-wide importance of the Olympics to European players. As the KHL continues to rise in prominence and popularity, it is foolish for the NHL to deny players the chance to represent their native countries.

Alex Ovechkin is one of the faces of the Sochi Olympics because that’s how important this hockey tournament is. Eventually, the Winter Olympics will return to Europe and every European player in the league will want to represent their countries in front of their friends and families.

With the ‘defection’ of superstar Ilya Kovalchuk back to Russia and the KHL, is it really smart to give the KHL another major advantage in terms of convincing European players to stay?

How about an example that hits closer to home for Caps fans. Evgeny Kuznetsov appears to finally be ready to make his NHL debut after the conclusion of the KHL season. As he watches the Sochi Olympics, you can bet there are people in his ear telling him he may never represent Russia in the Olympics if the NHL has its way.

For many players trying to decide between the NHL and KHL, the Olympics could tip the balance just a little more towards the KHL.

The NHL of course isn’t saying that players can’t represent their countries. “I’m very much a believer in the World Cup,” said Bettman during a Q&A with TSN’s Gord Miller. “I think they’re great. Doing it at a time of year in places that we can control makes a whole lot more sense for us in terms of what we try to accomplish as the NHL. And we think it’s good for international hockey as well.”

But while a world cup may solve the problem for the NHL, the NHL seems to be assuming other leagues would follow suite. Why would the KHL throw its support behind the NHL’s Olympic alternative? Any NHL-backed tournament would likely be held more frequently in North America in order to benefit the NHL’s audience.

So here’s the choice the KHL faces. They can continue to allow their players to play in an already established, popular tournament that all their players want to play in and watch as the NHL withdraws its players allowing the European teams to dominate. They can then use Olympic participation as a recruiting tool for all players considering leaving for the NHL.

Or the KHL could help the NHL with its World Cup idea that would be organized in a way that best suits the NHL.

Hmm, where’s the benefit for the KHL?

The NHL is squaring itself up for a fight with its players that will benefit a major competitor in the KHL. It’s hard to take the NHL seriously as they cite player safety when international hockey is played on a wider rink and does not allow fighting. This is strictly a business decision and it is the wrong one.

The benefits of Olympic participation, though limited, are clear in the wake of such great hockey like fans were treated to on Saturday. Abandoning the Olympics for a World Cup the rest of the world has little reason to care about is just bad business.

Alex Ovechkin named NHL’s First Star of the Week

Alex Ovechkin during warmups at Verizon Center, May 2 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Alex Ovechkin during warmups at Verizon Center, May 2 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Capitals Press Release:

ARLINGTON, Va. – Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has been named the NHL’s “First Star” for the week ending Oct. 6, the NHL announced today.

Ovechkin led the NHL in goals (4), points (6), power-play goals (3), power-play points (5) and shots on goal (24) just days after returning from Greece, where he became the first Russian to carry the Olympic torch for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. He opened the season by recording two points (one goal, one assist) in a 6-4 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 1. Ovechkin then scored twice, assisted on the game-tying goal and potted the clinching score in the shootout to help the Capitals rally from a three-goal deficit in a 5-4 victory over the Calgary Flames on Oct. 3. He closed the week by tallying Washington’s lone goal, the 375th of his career, in a 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Oct. 5.

The 28-year-old Moscow native and reigning Hart Memorial Trophy winner has played in 604 career NHL games, all with the Capitals, totaling 741 points (375 goals, 366 assists).

 

Washington Capitals announce 2013-14 schedule; open in Chicago Oct. 1

TEAM WILL PLAY IN NEWLY CHRISTENED “METROPOLITAN” DIVISION

The Washington Capitals announced their 2013-14 regular season schedule Friday. Under the new schedule format, all teams will play in every city in the league, setting up some interesting road trips throughout the season. The NHL will pause from Feb. 9-25, 2014, while NHL players comprise the majority of the rosters of the national teams competing in Sochi for Olympic gold.

The Caps open the season in Chicago against the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks on Oct. 1 and start their home slate two days later when they host the Calgary Flames at 7 pm.

Effective this season, the NHL will operate under a new divisional alignment and scheduling matrix that ensures all 30 teams play in all 30 arenas at least once each season. In creating more geographically-appropriate groupings, the NHL now has two eight-team divisions in the Eastern Conference and two seven-team divisions in the Western Conference. The Capitals will be in the Metropolitan Division with Columbus, Carolina, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Capitals will host the 11-time Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings at Verizon Center on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 2 at 12:30 p.m. It will mark the fourth time in the past five years that the Capitals will play on Super Bowl Sunday.

Washington has six homestands of at least three games on the schedule, the longest being a five-game stretch at Verizon Center from Oct. 10-19. The Capitals have five stretches of at least three straight road games and two season-high five-game road trips from Oct. 22-Nov. 1 and Jan. 24-31, respectively. In addition, the Capitals will have 17 sets of back-to-back games.

Home dates to remember:

  • Oct. 3 – Home opener at Verizon Center versus the Calgary Flames.
  • Oct. 14 – A Columbus Day tilt versus the Edmonton Oilers.
  • Oct. 16 – The New York Rangers make their way to Verizon Center for the first time since the ECQF.
  • Nov. 20 – The Pittsburgh Penguins make their first visit of the season to D.C.
  • Jan. 2 – The Capitals kick off 2014 when they host the division rival Carolina Hurricanes at Verizon Center.
  • Feb. 2 – On Super Bowl Sunday the 11-time Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings make their way to D.C.
  • Mar. 10 – Washington hosts Pittsburgh for the second and final time of the regular season.
  • Apr. 11 – Washington welcomes the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.
  • April 13 – Washington concludes the regular-season home schedule at Verizon Center versus Tampa Bay.

OCTOBER

Tue, Oct. 1             at Chicago              8 p.m.
Thu, Oct. 3            Calgary                 7 p.m.
Sat, Oct. 5              at Dallas                 8 p.m.
Thu, Oct. 10          Carolina                7 p.m.
Sat, Oct. 12           Colorado               7 p.m.
Mon, Oct. 14         Edmonton             7 p.m.
Wed, Oct. 16         N.Y. Rangers        7:30 p.m.
Sat, Oct. 19           Columbus              7 p.m.
Tue, Oct. 22           at Winnipeg           8 p.m.
Thu, Oct. 24          at Edmonton          9:30 p.m.
Sat, Oct. 26            at Calgary              10 p.m.
Mon, Oct. 28         at Vancouver         10 p.m.

NOVEMBER

Fri, Nov. 1             at Philadelphia       7 p.m.
Sat, Nov. 2            Florida                  7 p.m.
Tue, Nov. 5           N.Y. Islanders       7 p.m.
Thu, Nov. 7           Minnesota             7 p.m.
Sat, Nov. 9             at Phoenix              8 p.m.
Sun, Nov. 10         at Colorado            8 p.m.
Tue, Nov. 12         Columbus              7 p.m.
Fri, Nov. 15           at Detroit                7:30 p.m.
Sun, Nov. 17         St. Louis                6 p.m.
Wed, Nov. 20        Pittsburgh             7:30 p.m.
Fri, Nov. 22          Montreal               7 p.m.
Sat, Nov. 23           at Toronto              7 p.m.
Wed, Nov. 27        Ottawa                  7 p.m.
Fri, Nov. 29          Montreal               5 p.m.
Sat, Nov. 30           at N.Y. Islanders    7 p.m

DECEMBER

Tue, Dec. 3            Carolina                7 p.m.
Sat, Dec. 7             Nashville               7 p.m.
Sun, Dec. 8            at N.Y. Rangers     7 p.m.
Tue, Dec. 10          Tampa Bay           7 p.m.
Fri, Dec. 13            at Florida               7:30 p.m.
Sun, Dec. 15          Philadelphia          3 p.m.
Tue, Dec. 17          at Philadelphia       7:30 p.m.
Fri, Dec. 20            at Carolina             7 p.m.
Sat, Dec. 21           New Jersey           7 p.m.
Mon, Dec. 23        Anaheim                7 p.m.
Fri, Dec. 27           N.Y. Rangers        7 p.m.
Sun, Dec. 29          at Buffalo              5 p.m.
Mon, Dec. 30         at Ottawa               7:30 p.m.

JANUARY

Thu, Jan. 2            Carolina                7 p.m.
Sat, Jan. 4              at Minnesota          8 p.m.
Thu, Jan. 9             at Tampa Bay        7:30 p.m.
Fri, Jan. 10           Toronto                 7 p.m.
Sun, Jan. 12          Buffalo                  3 p.m.
Tue, Jan. 14          San Jose                7 p.m.
Wed, Jan. 15          at Pittsburgh           8 p.m.
Fri, Jan. 17             at Columbus          7 p.m.
Sun, Jan. 19           at N.Y. Rangers     7:30 p.m.
Tue, Jan. 21          Ottawa                  7 p.m.
Fri, Jan. 24             at New Jersey        7 p.m.
Sat, Jan. 25            at Montreal            7 p.m.
Tue, Jan. 28           at Buffalo              7:30 p.m.
Thu, Jan. 30           at Columbus          7 p.m.
Fri, Jan. 31             at Detroit                7:30 p.m.

FEBRUARY

Sun, Feb. 2            Detroit                  12:30 p.m.
Tue, Feb. 4            N.Y. Islanders       7:30 p.m.
Thu, Feb. 6            Winnipeg               7 p.m.
Sat, Feb. 8             New Jersey           7 p.m.
Thu, Feb. 27          at Florida               7:30 p.m.

MARCH

Sat, March 1          at Boston               1 p.m.
Sun, March 2        Philadelphia          12:30 p.m.
Wed, March 5        at Philadelphia       8 p.m.
Thu, March 6         at Boston               7 p.m.
Sat, March 8         Phoenix                 7 p.m.
Mon, March 10     Pittsburgh             7 p.m.
Tue, March 11       at Pittsburgh           7:30 p.m.
Fri, March 14       Vancouver            7 p.m.
Sun, March 16      Toronto                 3 p.m.
Tue, March 18       at Anaheim            10 p.m.
Thu, March 20       at Los Angeles       10:30 p.m.
Sat, March 22        at San Jose             10:30 p.m.
Tue, March 25      Los Angeles          7 p.m.
Sat, March 29       Boston                   12:30 p.m.
Sun, March 30       at Nashville            8 p.m.

APRIL

Tue, April 1          Dallas                    7 p.m.
Fri, April 4             at New Jersey        7 p.m.
Sat, April 5            at N.Y. Islanders    5 p.m.
Tue, April 8           at St. Louis             8 p.m.
Thu, April 10         at Carolina             7 p.m.
Fri, April 11          Chicago                 7 p.m.
Sun, April 13         Tampa Bay           3 p.m.

All Times Eastern

Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin named Hart Trophy winner as NHL MVP

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was awarded the 2012-13 Hart Memorial Trophy, the third such honor of his career, at the NHL awards Saturday evening. Ovechkin beat out Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and John Tavares of the New York Islanders, as voted on by the Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

Ovechkin started slowly last season, as did his entire team. But as they became adjusted to new coach Adam Oates’ systems, both Ovechkin and the team came on to eventually win the final Southeast Division title. Ovechkin led the league in goals and the resurrected power play helped lead the Caps from the bottom of the league to first place in the division and the eventual third seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

From the team’s press release:

ARLINGTON, Va. – Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin won the 2012-13 Hart Memorial Trophy, awarded “to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team,” the National Hockey League announced today. This marks the third time Ovechkin has been named the League’s Most Valuable Player.

The 27-year-old Moscow native is the only active player to have won the Hart Trophy multiple times (2007-08, 2008-09, 2012-13) and becomes just the eighth player in NHL history to win the award three or more times, joining Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Clarke, Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe, Eddie Shore and Howie Morenz. Ovechkin was a finalist for the award in 2009-10. He earned 1,090 points for a margin of victory of 32 from a record-setting 179 ballots cast.

In 2009 Ovechkin became the first player in more than a decade to win consecutive Hart Trophies (Dominik Hasek, 1997-98) and the first non-goaltender to do so since Gretzky won eight in a row (1980-87). He became the third youngest player to win consecutive Hart Trophies, trailing only Gretzky and Orr.

Ovechkin scored 32 goals in 48 games this season to earn his third Richard Trophy in his career and became the first player in the trophy’s 13-year history to win the award three times. Ovechkin is the second Capital to lead the league in goals, joining Peter Bondra (1994-95 and shared the lead in 1997-98) and became the oldest player (27) to lead the league in goal scoring since Pavel Bure (29) in 2000-01.

Ovechkin also led the NHL in power-play goals (16), shots on goal (220) and tied for the league lead in power-play scoring (27 points). Ovechkin finished the 2012-13 regular season with 56 points (32 goals, 24 assists), tied for third in the league in scoring.

The Caps captain finished the regular season with 23 goals and 13 assists in his final 23 games. In that span of 23 contests, Washington went 17-4-2. The Capitals finished the season with a record of 27-18-3, first in the Southeast Division and the third seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Washington went 23-7-2 in games that Ovechkin tallied at least one point and 19-3-2 in games in which he scored a goal. He led all Caps players in third-period scoring (15g-8a) and tallied seven goals and three assists in the game’s final 10 minutes or overtime.

In his 579th career game Ovechkin became the third-fastest active player to reach the 700-point plateau, behind only Teemu Selanne (541) and Jaromir Jagr (557) and the fastest player to reach 700 points since Peter Forsberg did so in his 549th game in October 2003. Ovechkin became just the third Capital (Bondra and Mike Gartner) to record 700 or more points as a member of Washington and just the 22nd player to record 700 or more points in his first eight seasons.

This was the eighth consecutive season that Ovechkin has tallied 30 or more goals. The Caps captain is the only player to have recorded 30 or more goals each season since 2005-06 and is one of just nine players in NHL history to score 30 goals in each of his first eight seasons in the League, joining Glenn Anderson, Mike Bossy, Gartner, Gretzky, Dale Hawerchuk, Jari Kurri, Luc Robitaille and Bryan Trottier in that accomplishment.

Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association submitted ballots for the Hart Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season.

Washington Capitals Morning Skate Update & Audio: Accolades for Ovi and “Black Aces”

As the Washington Capitals prepare for Game 5 against the New York Rangers at Verizon Center tonight at 7:30 pm, the NHL announced the finalists for the Hart and Lindsey awards, and Caps captain Alex Ovechkin was listed as a candidate for both awards. For the Hart Trophy, the league MVP, Ovechkin was joined as a candidate by the Penguins Sidney Crosby and the Islanders John Tavares. The Ted Lindsey Award, voted on by fellow members of the NHLPA, will be decided between Ovechkin, Crosby and Lightning winger Martin St. Louis.

The team also called up several players from the now-eliminated Hershey Bears for the remainder of the playoffs. Known as “Black Aces”, these players will practice with the Caps but in all likelihood will not see any game action. The recalled players were: goaltender Philipp Grubauer and defensemen Dmitry Orlov, Tomas Kundratek, Cameron Schilling and Nate Schmidt.

See below for audio from head coach Adam Oates, Ovechkin, and others.

05-10-13 Adam Oates Practice RAW

05-10-13 Alex Ovechkin Practice RAW

05-10-13 Jay Beagle Practice RAW 05-10-13

Nicklas Backstrom Practice RAW

05-10-13 Tom Wilson Practice RAW

NHL Trade Deadline: All quiet on the Washington Capitals front?

What happens if you throw a party and no one comes? The NHL might be about to find out.

The NHL Trade Deadline is Wednesday at 3:00 pm, but thus far there’s been less action than at a Fancy Stat convention. The same holds true at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, where the Washington Capitals practiced in advance of the deadline. And by the looks of it, it’ll be as quiet here as it has been all around the league so far.

Mike Ribeiro - Captials practice at Kettler, September 14, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Mike Ribeiro – Captials practice at Kettler, September 14, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

The Caps biggest trade chip, UFA Mike Ribeiro, did not practice in the Caps optional practice this morning, but he did meet the media. And if he’s a guy that had any inkling that he was about to be traded, he must be the world’s greatest poker player. He was very relaxed with the media and indicated a strong opinion that he would neither be traded — nor re-signed — by Caps GM George McPhee today.

“I don’t really see myself moved or signed today,” Ribeiro said matter of factly.

The veteran center was much more focused on the Caps game Thursday night against the Islanders as they continue to re-insert themselves into serious playoff contention despite being left for dead several times this season.

“I still have the rest of this year of my contract,” he continued. “Nothing changes. I still have a lot of time after today if they want to sign me or not. For me, it’s to keep playing and make the playoffs and at some point, we can talk and get things done and see where it goes from there.”

In fact, most of the players today seemed to brush off the trade talk. If any of them are concerned about being traded, they didn’t show it, or dismissed it as “part of the game.”

The Caps are in a tough spot, despite being more than $7 million under the salary cap. They have several restricted free agents — notably Karl Alzner and Marcus Johansson — that will require a raise for next season. If McPhee decides to hold pat, play out the string and take his lumps either way this season, it’s completely understandable.

The Caps have three options with Ribeiro: trade him for assets and admit to a rebuild, re-sign him to a four or five year contract the player has indicated he will be looking for, or let him play through the season and allow him to walk as a free agent for no compensation. It’s a tough call either way.

Do you give a multi-million deal to a 33 year old who is enjoying a career year, yet is unlikely to come close to earning his paycheck at the end of the deal? Do you break up a team that could very well sneak into the playoffs? Or do you deal him for picks and prospects and weaken an already flawed team?

Only George McPhee can answer these questions, and we’ll find out a little after 3:00 pm today which way he’ll go.

Washington Capitals Game 20 Wrap: Capitals come back, down Bruins in OT

An old friend who returned home this season, Eric Fehr, lifted the Washington Capitals to a miraculous 4-3 comeback win to down the Boston Bruins in overtime on Tuesday in the Verizon Center.

Looking to build off of a commanding 3-0 win over the division rival Winnipeg Jets on Saturday, the Caps welcomed the Bruins to the Verizon center. One of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, Boston entered Tuesdays matchup sitting on top of their division and in second place in the Conference.

The first period was all Bruins and they started to take control of the game early on. With just over six and a half minutes gone by in the first, Boston went to the penalty kill. While defending their net on the disadvantage, Brad Marchand took a breakaway in on Washington netminder Braden Holtby. Alexander Ovechkin, playing the point on the powerplay, was unable to catch up to him and hooked him. Marchand was awarded a penalty shot and scored to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.  [Read more…]

NHL realignment resurfaces with tweaks in the proposal

Saturday night, the fine folks on CBC discussed the latest ideas regarding the necessary realignment of the NHL. It seems there are still a lot of ideas on the table, but there are a couple of vital things the league has to get right this time and there’s some long-range planning that needs to be taken into consideration as well.

First, Detroit and Columbus move east and Winnipeg gets out of the Southeast. The Wings have long wished to play the majority of their games in the Eastern time zone and they will apparently get their wish.

Second, the seasonal scheduling allows for home-and-home games with every team in the opposite conference and puts more division teams in the same time zone, crucial for television scheduling.

Next, the proposal accounts for Divisional playoffs, not based on Conference. This helps generate rivalries and makes for more consistent television scheduling.

Finally, this proposal makes it easy when Phoenix and Florida eventually relocate, most likely to Seattle and Quebec, respectively.

Eventually, the NHL will expand again, adding two more teams to bring the league to 32. They can’t help themselves. They see those franchise fees and it’s like printing money, talent distribution be damned. The player’s union loves expansion too since it adds 50 more jobs. So let’s have some speculative fun!

We’ll assume those Phoenix and Florida moves above. And let’s award our fictional expansion teams to Toronto and Kansas City. Now, imagine the four eight-team divisions:

Orr (Northeast) Howe (East) Hull (Central) Gretzky (West)
Quebec NY Rangers Winnipeg Edmonton
Montreal NY Islanders Minnesota Calgary
Ottawa New Jersey Chicago Vancouver
Boston Philadelphia Columbus Seattle
Toronto 1 Pittsburgh St. Louis San Jose
Toronto 2 Washington Kansas City Los Angeles
Buffalo Carolina Nashville Anaheim
Detroit Tampa Bay Dallas Colorado

 

You’re welcome.

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