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Capitals could deal with small highs and lows during cyclical 2011-12 season

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With the 2011-12 season rapidly approaching, the gang at PHT decided to take a look at all 30 NHL teams’ schedules. Each team’s highs and lows will be studied in detail to give you an idea of what the future might hold for each squad.

Note: Mileage figures via On the Forecheck’s “Super Schedule.”

Washington Capitals schedule analysis

Total mileage: 37,969 (10th lowest in the NHL, least in the Southeast)

Back-to-back games: 13

Toughest stretches

The Capitals’ schedule almost seems broken up into segments of mostly home runs and mostly away stretches, making it difficult to pinpoint too many huge streaks. For the most part, there are a lot of little periods that are easier or tougher.

That being said, there are two long runs that seem a little more difficult than others.

Mid-October to mid-November is one of the most challenging periods. They play four of five games on the road to kick things off, alternate a home game, road game and home contest and then are visitors three consecutive times.

Again, every month seems to have its quirks, but one of the standout strings comes from Jan. 18 to Feb. 4. The Caps play six of seven games on the road, with five contests against 2011 playoff teams. After a five-in-six run in February, the last significant stretch comes in March, where they play six of seven away from home again.

Easiest periods

The Capitals play four of their first five regular season games at the Verizon Center. Late November to early December represents a nice opportunity, as Washington plays six of seven at home. January includes a four-game homestand while February features four of five games at home.

March includes a six of seven at-home streak as well as a four-of-five run.

Overall outlook

The Capitals’ schedule is staggered, which might encourage cyclical highs and lows. That being said, they’re a genuine Stanley Cup contender, so it’s likely that they might defy the games in front of them. The schedule’s advantages and disadvantages would become more pronounced if the team suffers serious injuries, though.

Their travel schedule is in the bottom third of the NHL and their back-to-back sets are at a reasonable 13. Forgive the Caps a lull or two (surely someone somewhere will use a schedule-related slump as evidence of a lack of intangibles), but they shouldn’t find themselves in too many rough patches – or gold mines – next season.

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

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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

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NBCSN screen
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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

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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.