Capitals trying to keep up intensity as playoffs near

Caps2.jpgWashington Capitals vs. Boston Bruins
Noon EST – Sunday, April 11, 2010
Live on NBC

It’s a question nearly every dominant team in sports faces as they reach the end of the regular season – how much should they rest their star players? With nothing to play for, and the team just playing out the string on the regular and waiting for the playoffs to begin, teams must decide just how much time they give their most important players.

It’s a reasonable debate. After all, the most important players on the team could get hurt in a completely meaningless game, damaging the team’s chances in the playoffs. It’s also a long, grueling season; the team has earned the chance to be able to rest and get their energy back as the postseason approaches.

The problem with this is that team’s resting don’t always put their best product on the ice. This could change playoff seedings or even playoff implications, as they mail it in against teams fighting for their season.

Imagine if the Capitals decided to rest Mike Green, Nicklas Backstrom, and Alex Semin today against the Bruins, while Boston was facing a do-or-die scenario to get into the playoffs. How would the NY Rangers feel if the Bruins won, knocking them out of the playoff hunt and doing so against a team that could care less about the outcome?

Forget all that. Who cares
about playoff scenarios and postseason implications. If those teams
needed just one win so bad, then their season didn’t exactly go to plan

No, the issue at hand over a team resting over the final
half of the season is whether they’ll be able to turn it back on once
the playoff begin. After all, the Capitals have been an incredibly
intense and uptempo team all season long; can they get that going again
in the playoffs?

For a team like the Capitals, it’s proven to be a
non-issue. Washington has won five straight games while resting some
key players, and looks to have gotten over the inconsistency they were
suffering through in March.

good news is that at least the Capitals have something to play for.
Their captain, Alex Ovechkin, is three points behind Henrik Sedin for
the Art Ross Trophy and is tied for the lead in goals. A 2 goal, four
point game would do wonders for an already incredible season.

healthy? That’s priority number one, but the players on the ice won’t
play any less hard than they have all season long. Winning? Not needed,
but this is the Washington Capitals. They believe that any loss fuels
the fire of disrespect. Getting Ovechkin the scoring title and the Art
Ross? That should be motivation enough.

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    Preds still haven’t found their scoring touch

    Mike Fisher
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    The Nashville Predators got off to a relatively good start this season, but something seems to have happened to their offense over the last six games.

    Prior to Nov. 20, the Preds had only been shut out once in their first 17 games. Since then, they’ve been blanked three times and have just six goals in their last six contests.

    If you remove Mike Fisher from the equation, the numbers are even more dreadful.

    Fisher’s scored three of those six goals, while Filip Forsberg, Shea Weber, James Neal and Mike Ribeiro have none.

    After Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Buffalo , here’s what coach Peter Laviolette told the Tennessean: “I thought we could’ve had more gas, to be honest with you. The energy just wasn’t there; maybe the second period had something to do with that or the road trip, which was a long trip. I’m not making any excuses, but I think when we play at a higher tempo that’s when we’re at our best, and we had more to push in that area tonight.”

    The first game back home after a long road trip is typically a difficult one for most teams, so we’ll see how the Predators respond on Tuesday night when they host Arizona.

    A month to remember: Duchene lighting it up in November

    Matt Duchene, Nick Holden
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    It wasn’t too long ago that a report surfaced saying that the Avalanche were willing to listen to offers on forward Matt Duchene.

    When a player’s struggling and rumors start swirling, one of two things tends to happen.

    Either the player involved lets it affect his on-ice performance in a negative way or he’s motivated by the trade talk and turns his struggles around.

    Instead of pouting, the 24-year-old rolled up his sleeves and got to work.

    In October, Duchene scored a goal and an assist in 10 games, but things changed in a hurry when November rolled around.

    The Avs forward has picked up at least one point in 11 of 13 games this month.

    Duchene has 11 goals and nine assists in November and he still has a game to go before the calendar flips to December.

    “Obviously, things completely flip-flopped,” Duchene told the Denver Post. “That’s the coldest start I’ve ever had and things are good right now. Obviously, I know it could go right back, I could go cold again, that’s just the nature of the game. You just have to work every day to keep it going. The most important thing is to be able to provide offense and help the team win.”

    PHT Morning Skate: A bride can have her burger and eat it too

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    PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

    A woman in a wedding dress was caught eating a burger during Saturday’s game between the Stars and Wild. (Above)

    Team Europe has a number of quality goaltending options to chose from ahead of next fall’s World Cup of Hockey. (

    Watch as some players on Nashville’s roster try to guess the lyrics to different country songs:

    Former goaltender Eddie Johnston sits down for a Q & A with’s Shelly Anderson. (ESPN)

    Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher got into a “Twitter war” with former NHLer Jim Kyte. (Puck Daddy)

    Oilers defenseman Andrew Ference made a generous donation to a Syrian refugee fund. (Huffington Post)

    Julien explains comments about Lundqvist’s ‘acting’

    Claude Julien

    We’re now over two days removed from last Friday’s tilt between the Bruins and the Rangers, but the coaches from both teams seem unwilling to move on.

    Moments after that game, Claude Julien claimed that Henrik Lundqvist did some “acting” on the ice to sell a goalie interference call on Brad Marchand.

    On Saturday, Alain Vigneault fired back by saying that Julien needed to get his eyesight checked. Vigneault also compared Aaron Rome’s hit on Nathan Horton in the 2011 Stanley Cup final to Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan in Friday’s game.

    Now it was Julien’s turn to address the “issue” at hand.

    Julien clarified his original comment about Lundqvist and he also tackled some of Vigneault’s comments.

    “I think it’s pretty obvious what I said . . . I thought Lundqvist sold it,” said Julien. “Not for a second did I ever question Henrik Lundqvist as a person, or a goaltender or any of that. We all know how good he is as a goaltender, and I know he’s a good person. I’ve met him at the All-Star games and all that stuff.

    Julien on his eyesight: “As far as my eyes, I’m not the one that compared Beleskey’s hit to Aaron Rome’s [hit]. We’ll just leave it at that.”

    It’s time for both sides to move on.