Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee recently had some interesting observations for Caps fans to digest regarding the team’s future along the blue line as The Washington Post’s Tarik El-Bashir found out.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but McPhee pretty much said both John Carlson and Karl Alzner will be full-timers in Washington next season.
“He’s shown us enough,” McPhee said of Alzner, who scored a huge goal in the first period of Monday’s Calder Cup-clinching win and was a rock on the blue line. “He could have been in the NHL last year. But the way our team was playing last year, we didn’t want to tinker with the chemistry too much and we thought he would be better off if we kept him playing. He’s a guy we expect to be in Washington.”
Alzner, while very young still (he turns 23 in September), has been riding the D.C./Hershey express the last two seasons, playing in 21 games for the Caps this past season and 30 in the NHL the year before that. Alzner has been a steadying presence the last two years for Hershey in the AHL being a part of back-to-back Calder Cup winning teams.
“Captain America” John Carlson however got the call late in the season and in the playoffs for the Caps this year and showed that while he’s still young (he’s just 20 years-old), he’s better than a lot of what the Capitals had working for them already. Carlson averaged just over 20 minutes a game against the Canadiens in the playoffs and guys who are viewed as being “too green” (not Mike Green) won’t get that kind of work when the team needs top minutes from top players.
While some folks think that Anton Volchenkov could be on his way to Washington, having two kids like this in the pipeline ready to start in the NHL helps temper such fantasy hockey-like ideas with a welcome dose of reality.
What a start.
This series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might be headlined by Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, but as many have said in the lead-up to tonight’s opener, there is so much more to this second round matchup than that. Washington’s 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1 tonight could be offered up as Exhibit A.
This game had everything except big offensive showings from Crosby and Ovechkin. They had their moments, but in the end combined for just one assist.
What we got instead was a hat trick by T.J. Oshie that was completed with a game-winning goal that made it past the line by such a narrow margin that it warranted a video review:
This game also featured a sequence of three goals in 90 seconds and yet also some great saves by goaltenders Braden Holtby and Matt Murray. At the other end of the spectrum, there was a controversial hit by Tom Wilson that might lead to a suspension.
There was even some odd stuff. Like how Jay Beagle got a stick stuck in his equipment.
If this game sets the tone for the rest of the series, then we should be in for a closely contested, highlight filled affair.
— Nick Bonino had a goal and an assist for the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin and Ben Lovejoy accounted for the Penguins’ other markers.
— Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scored the game’s opening goal. It was his first marker of the 2016 playoffs.
— Washington outshot Pittsburgh 15-9 in the first period, but Pittsburgh ended up with a 45-35 edge.
— This is the first time in the 2016 playoffs that Braden Holtby has allowed more than two goals. He surrendered just five goals in six games to Philadelphia.
— Matt Murray suffered his first career postseason loss after winning three straight contests against the New York Rangers.
Tom Wilson has already found himself in a controversy for delivering a late, knee-on-knee hit to Penguins forward Conor Sheary in the third period of Game 1 Thursday night.
You can see that incident below:
Wilson spent two minutes in the sin bin earlier in the contest for crosschecking Evgeni Malkin, but there was no penalty on this play.
Fortunately Conor Sheary was able to stay in the game. The question now is if Wilson’s actions will lead to him being suspended prior to Game 2.
This isn’t Wilson’s first brush with controversy. He delivered a big hit to Brayden Schenn in 2013, but Wilson wasn’t suspended for that incident. Lubomir Visnovsky’s final campaign was cut short due to a check by Wilson that angered the New York Islanders. More recently, Nikita Zadorov was concussed by a crushing blow from the Capitals forward.
In 231 career regular season games, Wilson has 50 points and 486 penalty minutes.
Related: Wilson says ‘I’ve never been a dirty hitter’ after teams voice complaints
For the first 30 minutes of Game 1 between Pittsburgh and Washington it looked like goaltenders Matt Murray and Braden Holtby might outshine these star-studded offenses. Then the floodgates opened up, if only for a moment.
Washington already had a 1-0 lead going into the second frame courtesy of Andre Burakovsky‘s first marker of the 2016 playoffs, but Ben Lovejoy and Evgeni Malkin scored back-to-back goals within the span of 57 seconds midway through the second period to tilt the scale in Pittsburgh’s favor. That lead didn’t last for long though as Capitals forward T.J. Oshie got a breakaway opportunity and took full advantage of it.
In total, there were three goals scored in the span of just 90 seconds and you can see all of them below:
After that sequence, the 2-2 tie held for the remainder of the frame. However, Oshie was able to reassert Washington’s edge just 3:23 minutes into the third period.
Through 40 minutes of action in Game 1 of the second round series between Pittsburgh and Washington and we’ve already seen some big moments, along with a pretty unusual one.
Beagle ended up with a stick lodged into his visor towards the end of the second frame. He tried to get it out himself, but ended up having to go to the bench for assistance. You can see that below: