Oilers finally acquire Ryan Smyth from Kings for Colin Fraser, seventh round pick

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It took a couple days for it to happen, but Edmonton Oilers can finally rejoice/breathe a sigh of relief: Ryan Smith will indeed return to their team. The deal itself is a little bit different than expected, though; instead of costing the Oilers Gilbert Brule and a fourth round pick, the Kings receive Colin Fraser and Edmonton’s 2012 seventh round pick in the trade.

Previous reports indicate that Brule’s health issues were holding up the trade, but there was a sense that it was a matter of time before the two sides would work something out.

From the Oilers perspective: Oilers fans love Smyth and Smyth loved Edmonton. That much was clear when Smyth cried during the press conference to announce the trade that sent him from Edmonton to the New York Islanders during the 2006-07 season. Smyth played his best hockey as a member of the Oilers, including a career-high 70-point season in 00-01.

Beyond Smyth’s solid offensive production, Edmonton benefits from his leadership and experience. This Oilers team is full of young players so Smyth could “show them the ropes.”

From the Kings perspective: Of course, the problem with Smyth is his price tag: he’s in the final year of a deal that produces a $6.25 million salary cap hit. That’s not a big deal for the Oilers – they still need to spend a bit more than $5 million to get to the salary cap floor and his actual salary will be $4.5 million next season – but it was a significant consideration for Los Angeles.

If Brule and a fourth round pick really was the original asking price, then the Kings received a lesser package two days later. Dropping from a fourth round pick to a seventh rounder is the most obvious downgrade, but Fraser doesn’t have the same ceiling as Brule.

Fraser’s career high in points so far is 19 (09-10 with Chicago) while Brule scored 37 for Edmonton in 09-10. Fraser was a third round pick (69th overall in 2003 by Philadelphia) while Brule was yet another ill-fated first round draft pick by Columbus (sixth overall in 2005). Much like Nikita Filatov and Nikolay Zherdev, Brule has been a pretty big disappointment in his still-young career, so the Kings probably didn’t lose that much.

It’s also possible that Fraser might be a better fit for the Kings’ system since his defensive game is more mature. Ultimately, the on-ice assets Los Angeles received are far less important than the salary cap relief generated from getting rid of Smyth.

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In the grand scheme of things, both teams benefited. The Oilers regained their beloved rugged forward while the Kings saved a ton of dough. Honestly, there might be a third team that benefits: the Calgary Flames. By losing out on the Smyth sweepstakes, the Flames avoided another bad contract in a litany of foolish deals. It looks like this will be one of those deals in which everyone wins.

Holtby ‘wasn’t as sharp as he can be,’ says Trotz

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Presidents’ Trophy winners once again in the regular season, the Capitals once again face an uphill climb if they are to advance beyond the rival Penguins and the second round of the playoffs.

What began with a strong first period for the Capitals in Game 2, albeit without a reward on the score board, faded into a frustrating 6-2 rout, as the Penguins took a commanding 2-0 series lead as it shifts back to Pittsburgh for a pivotal Game 3 on Monday.

Braden Holtby was pulled after the second period. He gave up three goals on 14 shots, while his opponent at the other end, Marc-Andre Fleury was brilliant with 34 saves.

“He’ll tell you that he can be better. He’s a straight up guy and he will be. I was just trying to change the mojo,” said Capitals coach Barry Trotz of his decision to sit Holtby.

“I thought some of the goals, he wasn’t as sharp as he can be for us. He’s a game-changer for us. So when he didn’t change the game, I just looked to change the mojo a little bit there. That’s all. Braden’s our backbone. He has been all year. We’ve got to find some goals for him, too. We can’t just put it on Braden Holtby.”

Now in a deep but not insurmountable hole against the defending Stanley Cup champs, the Capitals reportedly held a players’ only meeting following this latest defeat.

After failing to open the scoring in an otherwise dominant first period, Washington surrendered three goals in the second, as the Penguins broke it wide open with their transition game, led by two great plays from Sidney Crosby.

“We can’t get frustrated. I think that would be our biggest mistake is to get frustrated right now,” said T.J. Oshie, before expanding on the meeting between the players.

“It was things that people need to say and things that some people need to hear. We were very together with what we said. I don’t need to go into details. Sometimes in our game … you need to hear from your teammates more than your coach. And tonight was one of those nights.

“It was the players in here and what was said is what needed to be said.”

We’ll find out Monday if what was said actually has any impact on the ice.

Penguins rout Capitals to take commanding series lead

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The Washington Capitals are in trouble. Against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Again.

Despite a dominant first period, at least in terms of shots on Marc-Andre Fleury and puck possession, the Capitals saw this game go sideways in a hurry during the second period, on the way to a 6-2 loss to the Penguins in Game 2.

Washington is now in quite a hole, trailing its nemesis 2-0 in this second-round series.

Last year, Matt Murray stymied the Capitals. Though it’s only been two games this year, Fleury has stepped up in the absence of the injured Murray and given the Penguins solid goaltending and frustrated a dangerous Capitals lineup.

After withstanding the storm of pressure from the Capitals in the first period, the Penguins broke this game open with a trio of second-period goals. It started with a shorthanded goal from Matt Cullen, and later continued with a beautiful goal from Phil Kessel and then Jake Guentzel‘s sixth goal of these playoffs.

That led Barry Trotz to take Braden Holtby out of the game, after he gave up three goals on 14 shots, putting in Phillip Grubauer to begin the third period. The Penguins continued the onslaught.

For the Penguins, there are some injury concerns to keep an eye on.

Patric Hornqvist left the game in the first period after blocking a shot around his foot or ankle. He didn’t return. Ron Hainsey had to go to the locker room late in the third period after taking an Alex Ovechkin shot up around the head.

Game 3 goes Monday in Pittsburgh.

‘I wasn’t good enough,’ says Lundqvist after double OT loss to Senators

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The task wasn’t impossible, but certainly daunting.

The Ottawa Senators needed five goals on Henrik Lundqvist just to send Game 2 into overtime.

The Rangers goalie had been spectacular for most of this post-season entering Saturday’s contest, but the Senators, led by a sensational four-goal performance from Jean-Gabriel Pageau, found a way to break through for a 6-5 double overtime win to take a 2-0 series lead against New York.

They did so on just 34 shots through almost 83 minutes against Lundqvist.

“I wasn’t good enough,” said Lundqvist, per the New York Daily News. “Coming up with the extra save there in the end, that’s my job. Even though it’s tough plays on deflections, I’ve got to find a way.”

On three occasions, the Rangers held a two-goal lead. That includes with under five minutes remaining in regulation. They even had a pair of shorthanded goals. But they couldn’t hang on, as Pageau scored twice in the final 3:19 of regulation to record his hat trick.

That set the stage for the eventual winner, as he beat Lundqvist over the left shoulder with a shot from his off-wing on a two-on-one rush.

With the Senators in control, the series returns to New York for Game 3 on Tuesday and Game 4 on Thursday.

“We played well enough to win this game, there’s no question about it,” said Lundqvist. “It’s really tough to lose this one. Clearly they’ve gotten the bounces here in the first two games.”

Capitals’ Holtby begins third period on the bench, Grubauer takes over in net

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Braden Holtby began the third period of Saturday’s Game 2 on the bench, giving way to Philipp Grubauer.

The Washington Capitals fell behind the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 after two periods, with Holtby allowing three goals on just 14 shots. It will be interesting to hear the reason for this decision from coach Barry Trotz following the game.

The Capitals had dominated on the shot clock, but gave up a pair of quick goals to fall further behind Pittsburgh in this game, while trailing in the series 1-0.

Phil Kessel — on a great play from Sidney Crosby — and Jake Guentzel scored 3:10 apart to give Pittsburgh a two-goal lead.