Karl Alzner #27 of the Washington Capitals skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on March 22, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defetaed the Capitals 2-1 in the shootout.
(March 21, 2012 - Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

Caps re-sign Alzner: four years, $11.2 million


The Washington Capitals have re-upped with one of their key restricted free agents, agreeing to terms with defenseman Karl Alzner on a four-year, $11.2 million deal.

“We are very pleased to sign Karl Alzner to a contract extension,” Caps GM George McPhee said in a statement.  “Karl is just entering his prime and has been a model of consistency for our organization since he entered the League.

“He plays tough and valuable minutes against some of the NHL’s top players every game.”

Alzner, 24, will carry an average annual cap hit of $2.8 million until the 2016-17 season.

The former WHL Calgary standout set a career-high for average time on ice per game (20:57) last season, upping it to 22:18 in the playoffs.

Washington’s No. 5 overall pick at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Alzner finished second on the team in blocked shots last year (85), fourth among all defensemen in hits (45).

He was in the final year of a two-year, $2.57 million deal.

Earlier this summer, McPhee shot down any notion of possibly losing Alzner to an RFA offer sheet, saying Washington would match anything given to Alzner or Washington’s other key RFA — forward Marcus Johansson.

The deal is a solid one from McPhee, who now has his two youngest blueline talents — Alzner and 23-year-old John Carlson — locked up for a combined $6.76 million per season until 2017.

Personal reasons: No Ovechkin for Caps tonight

Alex Ovechkin
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Alex Ovechkin won’t play for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday because of personal reasons, the team confirmed.

He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.

Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).

That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out

This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:

No, the Capitals have not shared details regarding what his “personal reasons” might be, by the way.

Bruins put Morrow on IR, bring up Cross

Brady Skjei, Joe Morrow
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Lower-level defense is not the biggest of many worries for the Boston Bruins, yet it might be another in a series of headaches.

CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty points out that Joe Morrow has been placed on IR while AHL stalwart Tommy Cross was called up.

With a -3 rating and negligible offensive impact so far, few will really be missing Morrow (pictured). From the way Haggerty describes Cross, it’s a pretty cool story if he gets into the lineup:

Cross was named captain of the Providence Bruins this season, and actually had a strong training camp as the hard-hitting, tough stay-at-home defenseman he’s developed into during his five years in the B’s minor league system. The 2007 second round pick was a highly regarded potential puck-moving defenseman when he was drafted prior to his Boston College career, but a series of knee injuries negated some of his speed and puck-moving capabilities.

Granted, the Bruins would prefer a sure-thing improvement over a feel-good story right now, as this 0-3-0 start marks their worst beginning in some time.

Injuries have been an issue in general, too, with Zdeno Chara‘s slow start mixed with Dennis Seidenberg on the mend and Brad Marchand in limbo.

The Bruins’ next game comes against the Avalanche in Colorado. Maybe they’ll start to mend things on the ice?