Washington Nationals

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PHT Morning Skate: Why Gallant was fired; Will Yzerman bring him to Red Wings?

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon explains why the team fired Gerard Gallant. The vague “underperforming” explanation cements something, to me: this is a defining decision by McCrimmon. It’s striking how many players said that they loved playing for Gallant, by the way. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

• Gallant developed a friendship with Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman over the years. (Witness that in that glorious main image from Getty Images/Sports Illustrated’s George Tiedemann from 1988.) Things already seemed shaky for Jeff Blashill beyond 2019-20. What happens now that Gallant is available? (Detroit Free-Press)

• Frank Seravalli breaks down a brutal, stunning season for NHL coaches. (TSN)

• Ilya Kovalchuk discusses why things didn’t work with the Kings, and the fit in Montreal. Kovalchuk explains to Eric Engels that he’s “useless” playing 7-10 minutes per night. (Sportsnet)

• Playing in (and winning) a World Series must have been nerve-wracking for Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals. Then again, his thought on suiting up during a Capitals practice was “I hope I don’t die.” Good stuff. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)

David Perron provides some fascinating insight on how he looks at certain hockey analytics. He also explains some of the stats the Blues emphasize. (The Point)

• More on the Blues: how the team shakes off injuries. (St. Louis Game Time)

• The Lightning are red-hot right now, and critics are wrong: their defense is strong. (Raw Charge)

• Key tactical adjustments make for an improved New York Rangers. (Blue Seat)

• The Blue Jackets aren’t just surviving in net post-Sergei Bobrovsky, they’re thriving. It sets up something unexpected: a potential goalie battle between two netminders who are playing well. (The Hockey News)

• Gus Katsaros does a deep analytics dive on the Devils. (Rotoworld)

• Need a sign that things are odd in 2020? How about this: the Capitals power play is struggling. (Nova Caps)

• Scotty Wazz shares news on TV coverage for “3 Ice,” a 3-on-3 summer league. If it can be anywhere near as cool as a similar basketball league, sign me up. Bonus points if it includes barely-retired players akin to Joe Johnson tearing it up. It’s starting up in June 2021.(Scotty Wazz)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Nationals’ Scherzer drops ceremonial baseball before Capitals game

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The Washington Nationals have some time to kill before the 2019 World Series after sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals, so why not take in a Washington Capitals game … and maybe put a new knuckleball-like spin on a common hockey photo-op?

Instead of dropping the ceremonial first puck before Friday’s Capitals – Rangers contest, three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer elected to drop a baseball instead. You can watch video of that fun ceremony (which vaguely reminded me of Auston Matthews doing a little Globetrotter spin with a Raptors basketball) in the video above. Sports city synergy is fun, is what I’m trying to say.

As a baseball not-knower, this brings up a lot of questions — some I can answer, some not so much.

  • Was it one of those new-fangled “juiced” baseballs? Scherzer probably doesn’t like those, if they’re really a thing.
  • I was wondering about Scherzer’s (maybe somewhat intimidating) different-colored eyes. Apparently Scherzer was born that way, although one eye was blue and the other was green, originally. (The blue eye turned bluer, while the green one turned brown.) Dany Heatley is a hockey player who comes to mind with that, but his story is less fun and more upsetting.
  • CNN clears up the Nationals’ connection to “Baby Shark,” which I wondered about thanks to this:

(Even Capitals fans would probably admit that this is swimming a bit close to San Jose’s waters.)

  • In case you were wondering, that sports city synergy went both ways, as you can see from Alex Ovechkin hugging Scherzer before a Nationals game in June 2018 (via Getty):
(Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

As of this writing, the Capitals lead the Rangers 3-2 and the New York Yankees are trying to protect a 4-1 lead against the Houston Astros in Game 5 of the ALCS. If the Astros win, they’ll face Scherzer’s Nationals.

… And that about concludes my baseball-knowing.

/chews imaginary tobacco/Major League Chew

MORE:
• Pro Hockey Talk’s Stanley Cup picks.
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Capitals enjoy day with Stanley Cup at Nationals game

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It might be some time before Alex Ovechkin relinquishes his grip on the Stanley Cup.

So far, pictures have shown him hoisting it not long after his Washington Capitals won it in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Vegas Golden Knights. Hoisting it long into the night in Sin City. Spooning it as he slept on the plane back to D.C. And then lifting it back over his head at every moment since.

He’s like a kid on Christmas Day showing off his prized gift. It’s been pretty fun to watch.

The Capitals were at the Washington National’s baseball game on Saturday, and you can guess what Ovechkin was doing:

And my personal favourite from the afternoon:

The Conn Smythe winner did take a break to throw out the first pitch before the game. And the second pitch, too.

There was also this very bad yet very funny rendition of Queen’s We Are The Champions, complete with beer and a lot of missing words.

On Friday night, the Caps held a private party atop Don Tito, a popular watering hole in Arlington, Va.

The Capitals will hold their formal parade on Tuesday down Constitution Avenue.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Report: NHL, Nationals in discussion on Winter Classic venue

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News of the Washington Capitals hosting the 2015 Winter Classic broke almost a year ago in September 2013, but as of this writing, there’s still no decision on a venue.

The Capitals and Blackhawks are scheduled to play outdoors in Washington on New Years Day.

According to a story in the Washington Post, there are still on-going discussions regarding a venue for the game.

NHL officials visited Nationals Park home to the Washington Nationals, RFK Stadium where the MLS’ D.C. United play home games and FedEx Field home of the Washington Redskins.

The report says FedEx Field has already been ruled out due to a Dec. 28 football game between the Dallas Cowboys and Redskins. According to the Post, there wouldn’t be enough time following the football game for an outdoor rink to be assembled for a 1 p.m. puck drop on Jan. 1.

Events DC CEO Greg O’Dell confirmed that the NHL is currently in discussions with the Nationals to host the Winter Classic at the ball park.

“I have not been told definitively by anybody that they have ceased discussions,” he said.

The January game will be the second one outdoors for the Capitals while the Blackhawks played in the 2009 Winter Classic and played against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a Stadium Series game last season.

Related: Blackhawks talk up 2015 Winter Classic