George McPhee

Caps GM McPhee OK with Kuznetsov staying in Russia: “They all come over eventually”


There was some hand wringing in Washington in early June when Evgeni Kuznetsov — the Caps’ first-round pick in 2010 — officially signed a two-year deal with KHL club Traktor Chelyabinsk.

George McPhee was not one of the hand wringers.

The Caps GM wasn’t concerned then, and didn’t seen any more concerned today that the reigning World Junior tournament MVP wouldn’t be playing in Washington until (potentially) 2014.

“It wasn’t much of a surprise,” McPhee told the Washington Times. “We would have liked to have had [Kuznetsov]. But if he’s not ready to come over then it’s probably not a good thing for him to come over because he’s not going to play the way he needs to play.

“But they all come over eventually and if he comes over in a season or two he’ll be more mature, bigger, stronger…he’s a terrific prospect and at some point he’ll play for us.”

One one hand, it’s fair to buy what McPhee’s selling. He’s had past experiences getting draftees out of Russsia and reaping the rewards — Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin, most notably.

On the other, it’s hard to buy that McPhee’s totally cool with this current situation.

Aside from the fact Kuznetsov will spend the next two years not playing in North America (unlike Dmitry Orlov, who cut his teeth with AHL Hershey), there’s also the issue of Kuznetsov’s communication skills — more specifically, his lack of them.

Upon verbally agreeing to the deal with Traktor, he told SovSport’s Pavel Lysenkov he hadn’t informed the Caps he was staying in Russia. There’s no way McPhee was happy about that development.

Regardless, it appears the Caps are prepared to play the waiting game on Kuznetsov and believe they’ll eventually be rewarded for their patience.

“He’s going to come over at some point and he’s going to be a heck of a player here,” McPhee said. “He’ll be worth it.”

Oshie’s hat trick lets Caps just barely squeak by Penguins in OT


What a start.

This series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might be headlined by Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, but as many have said in the lead-up to tonight’s opener, there is so much more to this second round matchup than that. Washington’s 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1 tonight could be offered up as Exhibit A.

This game had everything except big offensive showings from Crosby and Ovechkin. They had their moments, but in the end combined for just one assist.

What we got instead was a hat trick by T.J. Oshie that was completed with a game-winning goal that made it past the line by such a narrow margin that it warranted a video review:

This game also featured a sequence of three goals in 90 seconds and yet also some great saves by goaltenders Braden Holtby and Matt Murray. At the other end of the spectrum, there was a controversial hit by Tom Wilson that might lead to a suspension.

There was even some odd stuff. Like how Jay Beagle got a stick stuck in his equipment.


If this game sets the tone for the rest of the series, then we should be in for a closely contested, highlight filled affair.


Nick Bonino had a goal and an assist for the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin and Ben Lovejoy accounted for the Penguins’ other markers.

— Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scored the game’s opening goal. It was his first marker of the 2016 playoffs.

— Washington outshot Pittsburgh 15-9 in the first period, but Pittsburgh ended up with a 45-35 edge.

— This is the first time in the 2016 playoffs that Braden Holtby has allowed more than two goals. He surrendered just five goals in six games to Philadelphia.

— Matt Murray suffered his first career postseason loss after winning three straight contests against the New York Rangers.

Video: Wilson delivers late, knee-on-knee hit to Sheary

Wilson hit

Tom Wilson has already found himself in a controversy for delivering a late, knee-on-knee hit to Penguins forward Conor Sheary in the third period of Game 1 Thursday night.

You can see that incident below:

Wilson spent two minutes in the sin bin earlier in the contest for crosschecking Evgeni Malkin, but there was no penalty on this play.

Fortunately Conor Sheary was able to stay in the game. The question now is if Wilson’s actions will lead to him being suspended prior to Game 2.

This isn’t Wilson’s first brush with controversy. He delivered a big hit to Brayden Schenn in 2013, but Wilson wasn’t suspended for that incident. Lubomir Visnovsky’s final campaign was cut short due to a check by Wilson that angered the New York Islanders. More recently, Nikita Zadorov was concussed by a crushing blow from the Capitals forward.

In 231 career regular season games, Wilson has 50 points and 486 penalty minutes.

Related: Wilson says ‘I’ve never been a dirty hitter’ after teams voice complaints

Video: Penguins, Caps combine for three goals in 90 seconds

Oshie goal

For the first 30 minutes of Game 1 between Pittsburgh and Washington it looked like goaltenders Matt Murray and Braden Holtby might outshine these star-studded offenses. Then the floodgates opened up, if only for a moment.

Washington already had a 1-0 lead going into the second frame courtesy of Andre Burakovsky‘s first marker of the 2016 playoffs, but Ben Lovejoy and Evgeni Malkin scored back-to-back goals within the span of 57 seconds midway through the second period to tilt the scale in Pittsburgh’s favor. That lead didn’t last for long though as Capitals forward T.J. Oshie got a breakaway opportunity and took full advantage of it.

In total, there were three goals scored in the span of just 90 seconds and you can see all of them below:

After that sequence, the 2-2 tie held for the remainder of the frame. However, Oshie was able to reassert Washington’s edge just 3:23 minutes into the third period.

Video: Beagle gets stick stuck in visor


Through 40 minutes of action in Game 1 of the second round series between Pittsburgh and Washington and we’ve already seen some big moments, along with a pretty unusual one.

Beagle ended up with a stick lodged into his visor towards the end of the second frame. He tried to get it out himself, but ended up having to go to the bench for assistance. You can see that below: