From our friends at CSN Washington:
Short of the NHL awarding them 10 more points for good behavior, the news out of Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Thursday could not have been better.
Center Nicklas Backstrom, who left Tuesday night’s 5-4 shootout loss to he Los Angeles Kings with what many feared was a left shoulder injury, said he felt good after Thursday’s practice and will “absolutely” play on Saturday when the Capitals continue their playoff chase against the Boston Bruins.
Center Mikhail Grabovski, who has missed 21 of the past 22 games with a left ankle injury, also skated and said he’s “very ready” to return on Saturday, adding the final call will be made by the Caps’ medical and coaching staffs.
With 10 points out of a possible 12 in their last six games, the Caps have put themselves right back into the wild-card race in the East. After hosting the Bruins Saturday, they’ll travel to Nashville to take on the Predators Sunday.
Related: The Caps are back in the playoff race, but what are their chances?
Fires devastated the Canadian city of Fort McMurray, and the St. Louis Blues are doing their part to help those who were affected.
Here’s what the team is doing to raise money during Game 4 against the Dallas Stars:
Proceeds raised through the team’s 50/50 raffle and the Blues for Kids silent auction will benefit families who have been misplaced by the fires.
Blues forward Scottie Upshall shared his thoughts with the Associated Press regarding several family members being among those evacuated from the area.
“It’s been a great city, a city that’s survived for many years through some tough times and for me, growing up there doesn’t seem too long ago,” Upshall said. “Places that probably aren’t standing anymore will be really, really tough to take. But as long as everyone’s OK, that’s the main thing.”
Other people from around the hockey world weighed in on the scary scene, including Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Phillips, who told the Ottawa Citizen that “it hurts a lot.”
People shared some scary sights from the evacuation.
Matt Murray was just on another level in Game 3, giving the impression that the Washington Capitals would only beat him with perfect shots.
Jay Beagle got that memo … and maybe added a little element of surprise on top of that.
As you can see from the video above, Beagle beat Murray from an unexpected angle with a pretty resounding goal. It was one of those “Wait, did that just happen?”-type moments.
The Capitals saw their lead go away moments before this post was completed, so it’s now 1-1.
The Pittsburgh Penguins won Game 3 thanks to Matt Murray‘s heroics, but now they must face the Washington Capitals without Kris Letang in Game 4.
(And the Penguins were overwhelmed for much of that last contest with their best blueliner.)
The Capitals, meanwhile, acknowledge the baggage – perceived or not – of the past as they try to tie this series.
It should be a fascinating Game 4, and you can soak in all the drama and action on NBCSN and also stream it via the link below.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
It sounds like the Arizona Coyotes’ youth movement won’t merely be seen on the ice.
ESPN’s Craig Custance reports that the Coyotes will promote 26-year-old assistant GM John Chayka to GM. The team teased a major press conference for Thursday, when that news is likely to be made official.
The presser could be useful for more than the usual quotes and mission statements, as the Coyotes seem like they may parallel the Toronto Maple Leafs in combining an experienced executive, a young up-and-coming thinker and a more empowered head coach.
Dave Tippett is expected to have more of a say in personnel decisions while the Coyotes hope to bring in a Lou Lamoriello-type to assist Chayka, according to Custance.
(Custance’s ESPN Insider article [subscription required] goes in much greater depth, including a comparison to the NBA’s Golden State Warriors rather than the Maple Leafs.)
It’s possible that Dallas Stars assistant GM Les Jackson might come in to help Chayka, although an earlier report suggests that Jackson might stay in Dallas.
Multiple reporters including Puck Daddy’s Josh Cooper back up Custance’s report.
Considering Chayka’s age – he’s primed to become the youngest GM in NHL history – it’s no surprise that people are churning out jokes.
(This post’s author comes with six more years of [life] experience and a resume stacked with impressive video game and fantasy hockey team-building, by the way.)