Capitals continue to struggle with Hockey 101

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Dale Hunter is getting back to basics in Washington. In fact, if he gets any more basic, he’ll be teaching the Capitals how to lace up their skates.

As reported by CSNWashington.com, Hunter has been imploring his players to chip the puck in deep when the opponent stacks the blue line.

“We show them on tape,” Hunter said. “We call them turnovers at the blue line. You’ve got to give your skill guys some leeway. But they’ve got to make the right read. If they have four guys across the blue line, the odds are you’re not going to get through. You’re going to turn it over and you’re going to be chasing the other way. If you dump it, you’re chasing them, and they’re under the gun.”

Not sure if Hunter was dumbing it down for reporters when he said, “We call them turnovers at the blue line.” Hopefully he doesn’t have to talk like that in team meetings. We call that back-checking, Alex.

Of course, we all remember the Capitals (led by Alex Ovechkin) playing Red Rover with the Lightning’s 1-3-1 in the playoffs, so the “knock it off with the turnovers at the blue line” message needed to be sent.

But that’s a message that’s sent to pee-wee players, and we’re talking about the NHL here. It shouldn’t have to be sent twice to professionals.

Anyway, Washington hosts Tampa Bay tonight in a game Hunter is calling a “must win for both teams.”

PS – Do the Caps ever remind you of the time Homer and Marge had to take that parenting class?

Teacher: There are a lot of little tricks to it, things you should have learned a long time ago. Such as, if you leave milk out, it can go sour. Put it in the refrigerator, or, failing that, a cool wet sack.

[much later]

And put your garbage in a garbage can, people. I can’t stress that enough. Don’t just throw it out the window.

Marge: This is so humiliating.

Homer: [writing furiously] “Garbage in garbage can”…hmm, makes sense.

Capitals defeat Blue Jackets in clash of Metropolitan Division powers

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WASHINGTON (AP) T.J. Oshie scored the shootout winner as the Washington Capitals overcame a stellar performance from Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to beat the Blue Jackets 2-1 Thursday night.

Despite 44 saves from Bobrovsky, the Capitals reached 104 points and extended their lead atop the Metropolitan Division and NHL standings. Oshie engendered memories of his Sochi Olympic shootout performance by again beating Bobrovsky, the goalie he scored on four times in six chances that day.

Dmitry Orlov finally cracked Bobrovsky early in the third period on Washington’s 35th shot of the game. Orlov’s goal tied the score after Seth Jones beat Braden Holtby on a wild scramble early in the third for his first goal since Feb. 7.

Holtby had 29 saves in regulation and overtime and three more in the shootout to pick up his 38th victory of the season, one shy of Bobrovsky for the league lead.

A showdown between two of the top three teams in the league jockeying for position atop the Metropolitan Division lacked a playoff feel. But the matchup of two likely Vezina Trophy finalists lived up to that billing as Bobrovsky and Holtby went back and forth with big saves.

Bobrovsky entered the night first in wins, goals-against average and save percentage with Holtby second, second and third in those categories. The 2013 Vezina winner could also be an MVP contender this season given his value to Columbus’ third playoff berth in franchise history.

“When he’s in his game it’s very hard to score on him,” said Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who had eight shots stopped by one of his Russian national teammates. “He likes the big moments, he likes pressure. His worth ethic is unbelievable. … In my opinion he’s one of the best goalies in the league right now.”

Methot ‘out for weeks’ after suffering a shattered finger from Crosby clash

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The Ottawa Senators lost defenseman Marc Methot for the bulk of Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and it seems he’ll be out for quite a while longer, too.

Methot was injured on a Sidney Crosby slash across the hand in the first period. He didn’t return to the game and there was no penalty called on the Penguins captain.

Footage showed the gruesome aftermath of the slash — Methot’s finger on his left hand bloodied and injured as he skated back to the bench.

“His finger is shattered and he’s out for weeks,” said Senators head coach Guy Boucher, per the Ottawa Sun.

Methot immediately confronted Crosby after the slash, which occurred as the Sens blue liner went to dump the puck into the Pittsburgh zone late in the first period.

The Senators got revenge, scoring a 2-1 shootout victory to move within a point of Montreal for the Atlantic Division lead. Crosby was also denied in the shootout.

NHL to make ‘special announcement’ in China next week

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The National Hockey League has announced it will make a “special announcement” at the LeSports Center in Beijing, China next Thursday.

In January, the league’s deputy commissioner Bill Daly made it clear the NHL has interest in playing games in China — likely starting out with pre-season games before potentially adding in some regular season contests in the future, as well.

Just after the league made its announcement on Thursday, the L.A. Kings tweeted out that they will participate in next week’s event, along with the Vancouver Canucks.

In January, hockey insider Darren Dreger reported that the Canucks and Kings were likely to play NHL pre-season games in China this upcoming September.

Last July, members of the Boston Bruins visited China, specifically Beijing and Shanghai, to host hockey clinics in those cities.

Beijing will also host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Flyers survive early Mason mistake to upset Wild

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Insert the ‘It’s not how you start but how you finish’ cliche right here.

The Philadelphia Flyers fell behind the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, as Zach Parise was the beneficiary of a Steve Mason mistake just 2:07 into the first period.

Mason couldn’t control the deflection into the zone, coughing up a rebound in front. Eric Staal forced a loose puck to Parise and he buried it to open the scoring.

Yeah, not ideal for the Flyers, who are still clinging to the slimmest of playoff hopes.

But they responded with three unanswered goals, including this beauty from Sean Couturier.

Philadelphia took over for a 3-1 victory, with Mason making 24 saves on 25 shots, as Minnesota’s struggles continue. The Wild still sit second in the Central Division but have only two wins in their last 10 games and were unable to secure a playoff spot Thursday.