McPhee

Can McPhee save the season in Washington?

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As per usual, CBC’s Elliotte Friedman gave us plenty to think about in his weekly “30 thoughts” column.

One thought that stuck out for me was this one:

Apparently, no GM is burning up the phone lines more than George McPhee. The Capitals face Canadian-franchise-level pressure to succeed.

After last night’s home loss to San Jose, Washington sits one point back of Toronto for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Meanwhile, Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth is peeved at coach Dale Hunter (and presumably vice versa) and veteran forward Mike Knuble is fuming in the press box as a healthy scratch.

“If you had told me on opening night that we’d be sitting here right now outside a playoff spot, I’d have been very surprised,” McPhee told The Washington Post’s John Feinstein yesterday. “I liked the team we had put together this summer.”

McPhee added: “I still think if we get our guys [Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green] back and if we can add something here in the next couple of weeks we’re good enough to win the Stanley Cup.”

But if Washington doesn’t make the playoffs, McPhee’s job could be no more. In fact, he probably needs to do better than just make the playoffs. So what could the GM do prior to the Feb. 27 trade deadline?

Writes Feinstein (after suggesting Knuble could be dealt):

McPhee has other chips he can play. If he believes Green is going to be healthy he has two young defensemen, John Carlson and Dimitry Orlov, who many teams would covet. He also has Dennis Wideman, an all-star defenseman who is a free agent this summer. What’s more, he has two first round draft picks in a draft reportedly chock full of talented defensemen.

He could also shop Alex Semin, whose expiring contract could be absorbed by a handful of teams, assuming one would take a chance on the inconsistent Russian. Then again, with no Backstrom, who’s out indefinitely with concussion symptoms, the Caps might not want to lose Semin’s offense. Underperforming or not, he’s still the team’s fourth-leading scorer.

What do you think? Can McPhee save the season with a deadline more? Any ideas? Maybe he’s a PHT reader and gets most of his ideas from the comments sections of blogs.

Blues, Capitals to play exhibition game in Kansas City

Pedestrians walk past the Sprint Center, Sunday, March 24, 2013, in Kansas City, Mo. The city was preparing for the third round of the NCAA college basketball tournament at the arena after the region received 6-10 inches of snow overnight. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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Kansas City is going to host another NHL exhibition game.

The St. Louis Blues announced today that they’ll take on the Washington Capitals on Oct. 5 at Sprint Center. Both Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Ovechkin will be there, at least according to the press release.

The Blues last played in K.C. a couple of years ago when they took on the Stars in exhibition play. In 2011, a sellout crowd watched the Penguins and Kings at Sprint Center.

A market once considered a candidate for expansion or relocation — particularly after Sprint Center opened in 2007 — the NHL-to-Kansas City buzz has since died down. Last year, there was no interest from Kansas City when the league called for expansion applications.

Sensing an opportunity to make their team a favorite of all Missourians, not just the ones in St. Louis, the Blues have said they’d like to cultivate their fan base across the state in Kansas City.

Report: Pens won’t make Fleury (talks too much) available to media

at Pepsi Center on December 9, 2015 in Denver, Colorado.
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Don’t expect many updates on Marc-Andre Fleury‘s health over the next little while.

Well — don’t expect them to come from Fleury, anyway.

Per TVA Sports, Fleury has been shut down from speaking with reporters until he’s fully recovered from the concussion that’s sidelined him since Apr. 2.

A translation of Renaud Lavioe’s piece for TVA, per PHT’s Joey Alfieri:

Fleury practiced with his teammates this morning at the Verizon Center.

What I can tell you is he’s feeling better, but the Penguins have decided not to make Fleury available to the media because he says too much.

The next time Fleury talks to the media, it’s because he’ll be ready to return.

Not to be mean, but Matt Murray has given up three goals or more in back-to-back games.

Earlier this week, Fleury told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that — despite participating in on-ice workouts — he’s still dealing with concussion symptoms.

“It’s one of the toughest things I’ve been through,” he explained. “Some good days, when you think you’re back, and some bad days, when you think it’s never going to get fixed.”

The Fleury situation seems to have rankled some within the Penguins organization — like head coach Mike Sullivan, who took issue with questions about the club’s handling of Fleury.

Here’s a related series of tweets from DKonPittsburghSports’ Josh Yohe:

Game 2 of the Pens-Caps series goes tomorrow from Verizon at 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN). Matt Murray, who allowed four goals on 35 shots in the Game 1 loss, is expected to start in goal.

North Dakota loses another d-man as Kings sign LaDue

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 09:  Paul LaDue #6 of North Dakota skates against the Boston University Terriers during the second period of the 2015 NCAA Division I Men's Hockey Championship semifinals at TD Garden on April 9, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Keaton Thompson, Troy Stecher and now, Paul LaDue.

On Friday, the Kings announced that LaDue — the junior d-man that helped North Dakota win the Frozen Four — agreed to a one-year, entry-level deal, forgoing his senior season in the process.

LaDue, 23, was part of a talented UND blueline that also featured fellow juniors Troy Stecher — who since signed with Vancouver — and Thompson, who inked with the Ducks.

So yeah, bit of an exodus.

Thankfully for North Dakota, freshman scoring sensation Brock Boeser has already committed to returning for his sophomore campaign, while junior defenseman Gage Ausmus — a San Jose draftee — vowed to go back to school as well.

As for Frozen Four MOP Drake Caggiula — a senior that was already leaving school — he’s already begun his tour of interested NHL suitors.

Per TSN, Caggiula has shortlisted six clubs: Philadelphia, Edmonton, Ottawa, Vancouver, Chicago and Buffalo.

Wilson fined for kneeing Sheary

Wilson hit
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No suspension for Capitals forward Tom Wilson. Only a fine.

That’s what the NHL’s Department of Player Safety decided after Wilson kneed Pittsburgh’s Conor Sheary last night in Washington.

The fine of $2,403.67 is the maximum allowable under the CBA, and, at the very least, it puts Wilson on official notice.

Wilson was not penalized on the play, and Sheary was able to leave the ice under his own power and remain in the game.

“We’re just going to play hockey, and the refs are going to call it the way they see it,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told reporters afterwards. “Our guys are going to play.”

This morning, Capitals coach Barry Trotz reportedly said of the play, “It was OK, but it wasn’t I would say necessary.”