Jeez, 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.
Looks as though slumping Dallas winger Valeri Nichushkin could be a healthy scratch tonight when the Stars host the Oilers at American Airlines.
Per the Morning-News, Nichushkin — who barely played in the second and third periods of Saturday’s 6-3 loss to Colorado — is likely to be replaced by Colton Sceviour in the lineup.
Stars head coach Lindy Ruff was fuming after the Avs defeat, calling it “embarrassing, worse than disappointing.” It didn’t take a genius to realize one of the players in his doghouse was Nichushkin, who had just 2:02 of ice time in the second period and 3:24 in the third.
Yesterday, Ruff dropped Nichushkin to the fourth line in practice.
“I’ve been trying to help him by shifting him around,” the head coach explained. “He had some struggles early in camp on right wing, so I put him on left, and he doesn’t seem real comfortable at left right now.
“His game, everything has got to get a little bit quicker.”
The 10th overall pick in 2013, Nichushkin has struggled to build on the form shown in his rookie campaign, when he scored 14 goals and 34 points in 79 contests.
He missed nearly all of last season with a linger hip ailment and has been a virtual non-factor through the first two games this year.
When the Los Angeles Kings announced they’d settled with Mike Richards, it didn’t take long for the accusations of salary-cap circumvention to materialize.
And though NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly was adamant that the settlement was “far from” circumvention, apparently not everyone agrees with the league in that regard.
“Privately, other teams are screaming bloody murder and are threatening to make an issue about it at December’s Board of Governors’ meeting,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports.
Friedman goes into more detail in his story, so click the link to read more.
But remember how we wrote that the issue in this case was precedent, and that the “NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door”?
Well, one agent posed a good question to Friedman: “What’s to stop other teams from trying this?”