Washington Capitals off-season: Jose Theodore out, but Eric Fehr ponders extension

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theogone.jpgFair or not, the lasting image of Jose Theodore’s stay with the Washington Capitals might be the final playoff game he started against the Montreal Canadiens in which he allowed 2 goals on 2 shots. Friendlier Capitals fans will note that the former Hart Trophy winner was excellent – at times – during the 2009-10 season, particularly during the stretch run to the playoffs.

Either way, Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post notes that the chances of Theodore coming back as a Capital are pretty slim. The French-Canadian goalie’s agent, Don Meehan, said that the team hasn’t contacted him about re-signing the unrestricted free agent.

“They haven’t communicated with me at all,” Don Meehan said this morning from his Toronto-area office.

Meehan didn’t want to speculate about the Caps’ plans. But we know this: If there hasn’t been a single discussion of an extension by now, most likely there’s not going to be one.

“Jose can’t control anything as far as his association with Washington,” Meehan added. “It’s a matter of going to free agency on July 1 if Washington chooses not to establish a relationship with him. He’s a veteran, he’s been around a long time, he’s positive.”

As El-Bashir notes, the Capitals could very well rest their goalie hopes on holdover youngster Semyon Varlamov and fellow prospect Michael Neuvirth. The biggest plus is that the two goalies would only make about $1.7 million combined, giving the Capitals the opportunity to model themselves after the goalie-frugal Detroit Red Wings. Of course, the risk is that the team might put too much pressure on two inexperienced goalies.

Is it possible that the team may also consider nabbing a veteran free agent netminder? Perhaps someone along the lines of Marty Turco (whose passing skills could augment an already ridiculous transition game) or Evgeni Nabokov (he certainly wouldn’t feel too out of sorts since the team employs some high-ranking Russians)?

I think it’s a win-win situation for Washington in net; they’ll either go super-cheap with those newbies or be able to make a better use of their cap dollar with a superior veteran option.

While Theodore is out, there is a bit of good news for the most loyal of Caps fans. It appears that the team is in talks with character guy Eric Fehr to extend his contract for a few years, also according to El-Bashir. If there’s one underestimated part about Washington, it’s that they have a nice group of depth guys. Beyond the star power of Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin and Nicklas Backstrom, the team features hustle players including Fehr, Brooks Laich and Mike Knuble. Keeping those blue-collar/grittier guys will help them as they attempt to fight through their playoff struggles.

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.