Capitals cough up three-goal lead, lose to Jets in OT

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If you ask me, it’s often unfair to say that a hockey team “choked.” Making such an accusation assumes that hockey is a sport where a lot isn’t left to chance; I think most of us can agree that largely isn’t the case. Still, it’s pretty tough to fight off the long-held criticisms of the Washington Capitals after a loss like this.

The team seemed like it would produce a slam-dunk win in a huge home game against the Winnipeg Jets as they took a 3-0 as Alex Ovechkin continued his hot streak with two of those goals. The Jets and Capitals stuck to the script after that, though, as Winnipeg was that “scrappy bunch” while Washington seemed like a bunch of chokers, coughing up a 3-0 lead to eventually lose 4-3 in overtime.

How do you explain a loss like this? Who gets the blame? Did Brooks Laich make a mistake by fighting Jim Slater in the second period?

All kinds of questions sprout up from a loss like this, but Washington must move on. If nothing else, they’ll get a charity point to keep them in the mix.

East update:

(With Ottawa Senators’ disturbing loss to the Montreal Canadiens, it seems relevant to include them in the mix now.)

7. Ottawa: 84 points, 32 regulation/OT wins and eight games left
8. Washington: 82 points, 35 regulation/OT wins and seven games left

9. Buffalo: 82 points, 29 regulation/OT wins and seven games left
10. Winnipeg: 78 points, 31 regulation/OT wins and eight games left

(Carolina and Toronto aren’t that far behind, but study the expanded standings to determine how much of a chance you believe they have.)

The Capitals did get their charity point, but this is obviously a huge confidence-builder for the Jets – especially since it came on the road. The Sabres are also obviously bigger winners with Washington’s loss; while Buffalo’s time in the eighth spot proved short-lived, they must be taken seriously as a threat for one of the final two playoff spots.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Sports Club Stats still gives Washington the edge for the eighth spot, but Buffalo definitely made a big jump on Friday.

Milbury, Jones: Tkachuk walked the walk; Kings’ response was embarrassing

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The Los Angeles Kings got revenge on Matthew Tkachuk and the Calgary Flames on the scoreboard on Wednesday. But was that 4-1 win enough?

Mike Milbury and Keith Jones provided a lengthy “overtime” segment on NBCSN that brought about some really fascinating takes on the situation between Tkachuk and the Flames versus Drew Doughty and the Los Angeles Kings.

Watch the full video above, as it’s worth your time.

A few interesting lines if you’re (tsk tsk) skipping it:

Milbury: Believes that Doughty didn’t “do enough,” noting that star players sometimes have to stick up for themselves. On the other hand, Tkachuk showed that he can “walk the walk.”

He also gave the Kings a “C-, D+ if not worse” for their overall response. “Fight your own battles,” Milbury said of Doughty.

Jones disagreed to some extent, believing that Kings teammates won’t look at Doughty differently. But Jake Muzzin? He believes that Muzzin’s frequent defensive partner (at least over the years, maybe not this season) backing down from a fight was an embarrassment.

Spicy stuff.

For what it’s worth, Drew Doughty has one career fight (against Joe Thornton [!] in 2011-2) while Jake Muzzin’s lone bout came against Andrew Desjardins in 2012-13, according to Hockey Fights. Does that mean they shouldn’t have dropped the gloves on Wednesday? Milbury and Jones seem to believe that they should have answered the bell.

For more, check out a collection of the early violent moments and Tkachuk’s attempted shot at Doughty. The Kings win is summarized in greater detail here.

Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

graphic via NHL
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It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

Alrighty then.

Click here for more details.

 

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.