George McPhee

Caps GM: ‘We’re not gonna blow anything up’


Last night in Pittsburgh, the Washington Capitals were beaten badly in a game that left captain Alex Ovechkin disgusted and his teammates bemoaning their lack of mental fortitude.

The loss dropped the Caps’ record to 2-8-1, the worst mark in the NHL.

So this morning, general manager George McPhee met with reporters to try and explain how it’s all gone so very wrong.

One issue McPhee repeatedly addressed was discipline. The Caps have been shorthanded 51 times in 11 games, surrendering 15 power-play goals in the process. Their penalty kill (70.6%) is ranked 27th out of 30 teams.

“We’re playing a good game and then we start taking penalties, and we take them in bunches,” said McPhee. “No system, no coach, no team can survive that.”

Another problem spot has been between the pipes.

“Goaltenders have to be better,” said McPhee.

Though 11 games, Michal Neuvirth, 24, and Braden Holtby, 23, have combined for a .875 save percentage, the fourth lowest in the league.

Of course, it was McPhee who rolled the dice on a tandem that included one goalie (Neuvirth) that had never established himself as a reliable NHL starter and another (Holtby) that may have played extremely well in last year’s playoffs, but also started the 2011-12 season in the AHL and isn’t far removed from back-stopping the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL.

“Right now, it’s not going the way they had hoped, (but) it doesn’t mean it won’t,” said McPhee.

“I’ve seen young goaltenders win Cups in this league. I’ve seen young goaltenders come in and play really well.

“They have a lot of experience. For young goalies, they’ve played a lot in [the AHL], and they’re getting games here.”

McPhee offered strong support for new head coach Adam Oates — “I really like the coaches, I love what they’re doing” — and said he’s spoken with ownership in the past few days about ways to improve.

“If there’s something I can do to make the club better, I will,” he said.

“We’re not going to do anything short-term. We’re not going to blow anything up.”

Video: Evgeni Malkin leaves Oilers spinning

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Yes, there’s a lot of drama surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins, whether it’s founded on serious problems or merely speculation.

It’s easy to get swept up in all of that and ignore the fact that, hey, they still have Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Those two can really heal wounds with their on-ice play, and in Saturday’s case, Malkin is taking over against the Edmonton Oilers.

His spin-o-rama goal above was a real jaw-dropper. He also scored Pittsburgh’s second tally:

These highlights feel like Malkin’s way of saying “It’s going to be just fine.”

Lightning’s first fight this season: Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo

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Fighting is down more or less across the board in the NHL, but the Tampa Bay Lightning might be the franchise least interested in dropping the gloves.

Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo already has some name recognition to it, yet it gets some bonus points for being the Bolts’ first fighting major of 2015-16.

It … probably loses those bonus points in being run-of-the-mill.

Hey, be fair; the Lightning are clearly out of practice.

Oilers GM doesn’t want to force a trade for the sake of a trade

Peter Chiarelli

It must be a helpless feeling to sit idly by while your team continues to flail, but such emotions are what opposing GMs love to prey on.

Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli hasn’t been around through much of the suffering for this hapless franchise, yet that doesn’t mean he’s immune to the calls for improvement. To his credit, he’s not buckling under that pressure.

You can see and hear his full comments below:

If you don’t feel like playing the video, the message is simple enough.

Chiarelli isn’t happy with Edmonton’s record – he hasn’t “seen progression” in ways that he was expecting, but again … he doesn’t want to force moves.

Long story short, he can “sleep at night,” even if he’s disappointed.

Is he right to take a relaxed approach, though? Maybe it’s time to blow up a part of what isn’t working? Have some fun armchair GM’ing on this one.

Slump busters: Simmonds, Couturier end long scoring droughts in win over Rangers


It’s been a good few days to be a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers, as their team delivered not once, but twice during Thanksgiving weekend.

The Flyers picked up a 3-2 OT win over the Predators on Friday before shutting out the New York Rangers, 3-0, on Saturday.

It was a good afternoon for three players in particular.

Both Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier ended long scoring slumps.

Simmonds’ two goals were his first in seven games, while Couturier scored for the first time in his last 13 contests.

Goaltender Steve Mason also had a solid outing against the Rangers.

The 27-year-old turned aside all 24 shots he faced including this great save on Dominic Moore:

The Flyers lost defenseman Nick Schultz to an upper-body injury in the first period after he took a big hit from Dylan McIlrath.

Luke Schenn defended his fallen teammate by dropping the gloves with McIlrath, which didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates.

The Rangers are now on a season-high three-game losing streak. Their lack of effort has to be concerning for their head coach Alain Vigneault.

The Flyers outshot the Rangers 30-14 over the final 40 minutes.