Are the Washington Capitals already banged up?

Thumbnail image for Caps2.jpgJeez, the Washington Capitals are so eager to follow their amazing regular season with a great playoff run that they’re not even waiting until the games start to carry on post-season traditions. You know, like having a bunch of banged up players, for one.

Seriously, it seems like the Presidents Trophy winners are already limping along. The latest news is that Jose Theodore had to leave practice early after taking a shot from Alex Ovechkin, according to Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post.

A day after he was named the Capitals’ starting goalie for the playoffs, Jose Theodore left practice after apparently getting struck on the arm by a shot from Alex Ovechkin. Theodore went to the bench for a short time, then went back on the ice before finally leaving the ice for good and walking to the locker room.

If that wasn’t enough, their top two players aren’t exactly 100 percent, either. Nicklas Backstrom needed to sit out yesterday’s practice with “an illness” (note to hockey playoff novices: this is the time of year in which every injury report is filled with dirty, dirty lies). Alex Ovechkin has also prompted concerns from some since he brought his trainer to DC a couple of weeks ago, although that might be a matter of people being overly anxious more than anything else.

Now, most hockey teams are probably a little black and blue already. Playing hurt (and a lot of times, injured) is a time-honored tradition of the playoffs. Still, I can’t help but wonder if they should have rested players even more than they did once they clinched home ice throughout the playoffs. I don’t expect it to be a problem, really, but if the Capitals falter people might ask a few questions.

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    PHT Morning Skate: Shane Doan takes a (friendly) shot at the Miracle on Ice

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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.

    Shane Doan took a friendly jab at the the movie “Miracle” and the Miracle on Ice. (BarDown)

    –The best of the worst Upper Deck hockey cards from 2015-16. (Puck Junk)

    –Here’s a list of the top 50 players in WHL history. (WHL)

    –Watch the highlights of last night’s game between the Penguins and Capitals. (Top)

    –A sad story about how Chris Phillips feels helpless as his hometown of Fort McMurray burns. (CBC)

    –“You want to get back into things right away (but) I think these last four or five months have been good for me.” Former Penguins coach Mike Johnston is ready to coach again. (Local XPress)

    –Blues forward Jori Lehtera is in a pretty random commercial:

    Penguins push Capitals to brink of elimination with OT win


    The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.

    Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.

    With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.

    It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.

    Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.

    The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?

    Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:

    If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.

    Sidney Crosby looks hurt (and furious) after Alex Ovechkin slash

    NBCSN screen

    Sidney Crosby is known to get fiery, but even for his feisty standards, he was furious during the third period of Game 4.

    An Alex Ovechkin slash caught Crosby on the hand, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins star shaking his mitt and pleading for a call.

    After that, Crosby left to get his hand looked at … but not before flipping out and destroying his stick.

    You can watch it happen in the GIF and the videos above.

    Crosby was able to return not that long after that moment, although we can only speculate regarding how his overall game will be affected if his hand isn’t 100 percent.

    Dirty or not? Evgeni Malkin’s hit on Daniel Winnik


    Tensions seem to rise with every passing game in the playoffs, particularly in a series with bad blood like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

    Kris Letang was suspended for his hit in Game 3, and some wonder if Evgeni Malkin should suffer a similar fate for his check on Daniel Winnik on Wednesday.

    Winnik left the contest and has not yet returned during the third period.

    Take a look at the hit in the video above and decide for yourself.