Capitals GM didn’t want to “chase a bad deal”

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Despite an undoubtedly large group of disenfranchised fans and heavy helpings of disappointment, Washington Capitals GM George McPhee decided to sit out the league’s annual round of trade deadline chicken.

McPhee explained that he didn’t want to “chase a bad deal.”

“The theme of this year’s deadline was everybody wanted to add and there was no one selling,” McPhee said. “There were probably three or four sellers and a couple of them are in our division, so it wasn’t like we were going to able to do much with them. Everyone seemed to want our players, but they wanted to give us futures and prospects and I wasn’t interested in doing that.”

Many questioned McPhee’s choice to stay put, including media types such as CSNWashington.com’s Chuck Gormley and The Washington Times’ Stephen Whyno.

The sexier comment came when McPhee proclaimed that this Capitals team “can beat anyone in [the Eastern] conference” with a healthy Nicklas Backstrom.

To some, that comment seems preposterous considering how uneven Washington has been – with or without the talented Swede in its lineup. Then again, this is still a talented team on paper and if you’ve followed playoff hockey for even a few years, you know that a hot squad can ride a wave of momentum to shocking heights.

McPhee’s overall logic is actually quite sound for two less-contentious reasons, though:

1. The prices on the market really were ridiculous. (*cough* Paul Gaustad for a first-rounder *cough*)

source: AP2. Washington’s pending free agents make a “give ’em one more shot” strategy quite sensible.

Parity is a great thing, but it tends to breed impatience. Capitals fans wanted change NOW, but to paraphrase a hokey saying about Texas weather, if you don’t like Washington now … wait until the off-season.

McPhee could clean out much of the supposed “cancers” or underachievers/malcontents/whatever once the season’s over. Take a look at this list of the team’s most noteworthy upcoming free agents (sorry, Jeff Halpern):

Mike Green, Alexander Semin, Mike Knuble, Tomas Vokoun, Dennis Wideman and even head coach Dale Hunter.

Naturally, many want Alex Ovechkin to be fair game, but that list contains a ton of scapegoats who could be jettisoned for a new frame of mind and a ton of cap space.* So, yes, McPhee could have closed his eyes and thrown up a Hail Mary, but Capitals fans only need to sit through hockey’s answer to a two minute drill before victory or serious change comes.

* It would be about $17 million or so, if everyone in that group walked (not counting Hunter’s salary, of course).

Fight video: Brouwer makes Watson pay for Hathaway hit

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Austin Watson nodded with recognition after landing a questionable hit on Garnet Hathaway on Saturday, as he understood why Troy Brouwer demanded immediate retribution.

And, as you can see from the video above the headline, Brouwer got that bloody payback after beating Watson in a fight.

Watson (who isn’t that far removed from a two-game suspension) was ejected for his hit. It wasn’t the only nasty moment between the Nashville Predators and Calgary Flames, either, as the toxic exchanges included Anthony Bitetto‘s ugly cross-check on Sam Bennett.

(Video or a GIF of Bitetto’s hit will be added if it becomes available.)

Some other penalties reduced some of the advantage for the Flames, but they ultimately still received serious man-advantage opportunities amid all of the violence, and they weren’t able to convert.

The best news is that Hathaway might end up being OK after a scary-looking check. He returned to the game during the third period.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Should Erik Johnson be suspended for ugly play on Namestnikov?

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Vladislav Namestnikov has been the Mikael Renberg equivalent on the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Legion of Doom with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov for much of this season, complimenting those two scorers with strong work of his own.

The Lightning were lighting up the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night, perhaps frustrating Erik Johnson and others. Whatever the explanation might be, it was a pretty ugly sight when Johnson slashed and then boarded Namestnikov, earning those two penalties plus a game misconduct.

Plenty of people believe that supplemental discipline would be merited for Johnson’s actions. For what it’s worth, “Names” did return to action in the third period. We’ve seen instances where players return only to be hurt anyway, so we’ll see if the nifty winger sees any delayed issues.

Johnson, 29, was suspended for two games by the NHL back in 2014, but has a generally clean history otherwise.

The Lightning ultimately ended up beating the Avalanche 6-5, as Nathan MacKinnon almost led a rally with two power-play goals.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Senators blank Canadiens in NHL 100 Classic

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One win, even in the frosty outdoors for the NHL 100 Classic, only means so much.

Still, the Ottawa Senators probably experienced some ice-cold relief on Saturday, beating the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 during a tightly defended outdoor bout.

It was 0-0 for much of the game until Jean-Gabriel Pageau tipped an Erik Karlsson shot for the first goal with about five minutes remaining in the second period. Bobby Ryan then capitalized on a rough Jonathan Drouin turnover to make it 2-0, while an empty-netter iced the icy evening for Ottawa.

For a night, it was a fun time, and Karlsson reminded us what all the fuss is about, as he logged a ridiculous 32:55 of ice time. And he seemed to be having a good time doing it.

This night laid the “Canadian” on thick, with Bryan Adams performing during the event, and Gary Bettman posing for photos with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

via Getty

Weird, but OK then.

Generally speaking, things haven’t been that OK for the Senators lately. Such headaches did surface during this frosty-mug-on-ice event, as owner Eugene Melnyk inspired a #Melnykout hashtag on Twitter, not to mention icy barbs like these.

Fair criticisms about the Sens’ bigger picture aside, Ottawa looked nice tonight, with Karlsson shining and Craig Anderson pitching a rare shutout outdoors (shutoutdoors)?

Carey Price generated some nice saves of his own, but couldn’t will Montreal to win in his 10th consecutive start. The Habs rarely got things going against the Senators, seen most easily in Ottawa’s 38-28 advantage in shots on goal.

Nights like these make a bigger impact on fans’ memories and bottom lines, but this marks consecutive wins for the Senators either way. Considering the fact that the Senators hadn’t put back-to-back wins together since they faced the Avalanche in two contests in Sweden, it might not be a big deal, yet it’s far better than the nothing they’ve been coming up with far too often lately.

Also

In other news from the event, Mario Lemieux’s “five goals, five different ways” was named as the NHL’s greatest moment, voted by fans:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Sadly, Capitals aren’t selling this collection of Christmas songs

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Let’s be honest, virtually any time a team gets its players to embrace a holiday theme, it’s in the name of goofiness. And bless NHL teams for this.

When it comes to Movember, you get the fantastic combination of mustaches and charitable contributions.

The holidays are rapidly approaching (hey, I see that Amazon tab open), so we’ll start to see various New Year’s/Christmas/Festivus/etc.-themed fun. Even with that in mind, the Washington Capitals will be tough to top with their collection of Christmas tunes.

Sadly, there’s no Volume 1:

Question: which performance stood out to you the most? While Braden Holtby was fantastic (with a Tomas Plekanec-level turtleneck game), the simple entertainment of watching Alex Ovechkin sing is tough to top.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.