Karl Alzner

Do the Capitals need to make a change?


To some, the Washington Capitals’ embarrassing 7-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs is a cause for panic or at least serious confusion. It’s almost as if the hockey world forgot about the dreadful losing streak that coincided with the taping of HBO’s 24/7 series in 2010-11, although the Capitals seem to be under a harsher spotlight with each passing season.

So the big question is: should GM George McPhee pull the trigger on some sort of “big decision” before the Capitals take on the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday? Let’s take a look at some ideas.

Fire the coach: Should they give bellicose Bruce Boudreau the boot? My answer is an emphatic “No.” For every decision that gets second-guessed, the team keeps winning the Southeast Division and his bold moves have worked out fairly well in the big picture. (Katie Carrera reports that McPhee said no comment when asked for a vote of confidence regarding Boudreau’s job security … take that whichever way you’d like.)

Plead with Mike Green to come back soon: For all the criticism that Green receives, the Capitals clearly miss him as an offensive catalyst. The team is now 2-7-1 with Green out of the lineup in 2011-12.

Lean on Neuvirth: Tomas Vokoun’s production is a bit down compared to his high-end individual numbers, but Michal Neuvirth has a 3.46 GAA and .877 save percentage in seven games played this season. So another big “No.”

Make a trade: Now this is an interesting idea, but McPhee shouldn’t make a trade for the sake of shaking things up. The Capitals have a ton of guys in the last year of their deals including Green, Vokoun, Dennis Wideman, Mike Knuble and … Alexander Semin. If McPhee could somehow land a good second line center or fill another need, then maybe he should pull the trigger.

Overall, I think it pays to be patient. If a change is necessary, then I’d recommend a mid-level trade, though.

Penguins push Capitals to brink of elimination with OT win


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

NBCSN screen

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


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.

Blues aim to raise money for victims of Fort McMurray fires

An evacuee puts gas in his car on his way out of Fort McMurray, Alberta, as a wildfire burns in the background Wednesday, May 4, 2016. The raging wildfire emptied Canada's main oil sands city, destroying entire neighborhoods of Fort McMurray, where officials warned Wednesday that all efforts to suppress the fire have failed.  (Jason Franson /The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

Fires devastated the Canadian city of Fort McMurray, and the St. Louis Blues are doing their part to help those who were affected.

Here’s what the team is doing to raise money during Game 4 against the Dallas Stars:

Proceeds raised through the team’s 50/50 raffle and the Blues for Kids silent auction will benefit families who have been misplaced by the fires.

Blues forward Scottie Upshall shared his thoughts with the Associated Press regarding several family members being among those evacuated from the area.

“It’s been a great city, a city that’s survived for many years through some tough times and for me, growing up there doesn’t seem too long ago,” Upshall said. “Places that probably aren’t standing anymore will be really, really tough to take. But as long as everyone’s OK, that’s the main thing.”

Other people from around the hockey world weighed in on the scary scene, including Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Phillips, who told the Ottawa Citizen that “it hurts a lot.”

People shared some scary sights from the evacuation.