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Alex Ovechkin goes for 50-in-50 tonight

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By Allan Muir

Alex Ovechkin scored four goals in the Capitals’ 6-5 win over the Lightning on Tuesday night, giving him a league-leading 26 goals and putting him on pace to score a career-high 72 this season.

It also put him on target to reach another eye-popping milestone.

And he can do it tonight.

Ovechkin comes into the game against the Panthers needing a hat trick to reach the remarkable plateau of 50 goals in 50 games, dating back to March 19 of last season, when he scored against the Penguins. (He now has 48 in his last 50 since March 17.)

A hat trick is a tall order given that Ovechkin has never scored more than five goals in successive games, but he’s also never had much trouble against Florida, having scored 30 goals in 47 career games against the Panthers. And it doesn’t hurt his chances that Tim Thomas, Florida’s No. 1 stopper, is injured, forcing Scott Clemmensen (3.89 GAA, .857 save percentage) to step between the pipes.

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  • Published On Dec 13, 2013
  • Dmitry Orlov latest Washington Capital to issue trade demand

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    Dmitry Orlov

    Orlov has spent just 19 days on the Capitals’ active roster so far. (Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    The Washington Capitals have another disgruntled player on their hands.

    After being recalled from the AHL five times this month without once seeing NHL action, defenseman Dmitry Orlov is demanding a trade.

    “It’s becoming increasingly hard for Dmitry to continue with this shuttle without any hope of playing a game,” Orlov’s agent, Mark Gandler, told Katie Carerra of The Washington Post. “The coach can’t see him in the lineup. He’s been around. Everybody knows what he can bring, there’s no question marks here. I think that the team can get something for him at this point and move forward. I think that would be the best solution for everybody.”

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  • Published On Nov 27, 2013
  • Struggling Martin Erat demands trade from Washington Capitals

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    Martin Erat demands trade from the Washington Capitals

    Winger Martin Erat is turning out to be a notable trade bust for the Capitals. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Martin Erat wants out of Washington. The question is, does anybody else want him?

    Erat, who was acquired from Nashville at last season’s trade deadline  to bolster the Capitals’ offense, has been a failure. In his 13 games after the deal, he recorded one goal and two assists and rarely made much of an impression. He started this season on the fourth line, but injuries to other players allowed him to play a top-six role for much of the past month. His production remained dismal–just six assists despite the increased role–leading to him being scratched on Saturday.

    He made it clear following today’s practice that the scratch was the last straw.

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  • Published On Nov 25, 2013
  • Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin pots 20th goal, continues to score at record pace

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    By Michael Blinn

    Alex Ovechkin is one of the NHL’s elite goal scorers, but this season he’s taking things to another level, one just a handful of players have been to before him.

    On Saturday night, the Russian winger potted his 20th goal in the Capitals’ 22nd game of the season, increasing his League-leading total in a 2-1 loss to the Maple Leafs in Toronto.

    At his current clip of 0.91 goals per game, Ovechkin is on pace for over 74 on the season – the highest since countryman Alexander Mogilny scored 76 with Buffalo in 1992-93. The total would shatter Ovi’s personal best of 65, set in 2007-08, and displace Wayne Gretzky’s 1984-85 season as the eight-best ever. Some have suggested that he could be the first players to hit the vaunted 50-goals-in-50-games mark since Brett Hull did it in back-to-back seasons in 1990-91 and 1991-92.

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  • Published On Nov 23, 2013
  • Goalie fight! Flyers’ Ray Emery squares off against Capitals’ Braden Holtby

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    By Eli Bernstein

    It’s been a tough season so far for the Flyers. An 0-3 start led to the (probably overdue) firing of coach Peter Laviolette in October, but the shakeup on the bench hasn’t resulted in a turnaround. Thanks mostly to an anemic offense and hit-or-miss defense, Philadelphia is currently sitting on six points, good for last place in the entire NHL.

    The Flyers’ offense wasn’t exactly its usual moribund self, and actually got off 30 shots against Caps netminder Braden Holtby. Not one found the back of the net though, and so after Ward scored 5:23 into the third period to make the score 7-0, the hosts decided to make some fireworks with their fists instead.

    The brouhaha began after Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds leveled Caps defenseman Steve Olesky with a check near the Washington blue line. Tom Wilson immediately came to his teammate’s defense, and as the refs watched the two tangle, Flyers goalie Ray Emery rushed down the ice, intent on going mano-a-mano with his counterpart Holbty.

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  • Published On Nov 01, 2013
  • Six NHL teams keeping an eye on their 2013-14 Stanley Cup window

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    Patrick Sharp of the Chicago Blackhawks faces off against Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins

    With young, talented cores, the Blackhawks and Penguins remain solid Cup contenders this season. (Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    It’s a funny thing about windows. Sometimes you can’t tell if they’re open or not until you pass through . . . or run smack into them.

    That’s usually the way it plays out as teams work to establish themselves as legitimate challengers for the Stanley Cup. Those years spent carefully assembling the pieces require more than vision. They hinge on perfect timing. Because just when everything seems to be place, injuries can deplete the depth or the scoring dries up or the chemistry experiment fizzles. It doesn’t take much to derail the dream.

    Every team aspires to contention, but few teams are ever actually in the sweet spot where everything comes together and puts them directly in the hunt. The defending champion Blackhawks are there now. So are the Bruins and the Kings, and perennial contenders like the Red Wings and Penguins, too.

    Eastern Conference Power Rankings | Western Conference | Kane, Crosby on SI preview covers

    And then there are the teams for which opportunity is either just over the horizon . . . or just slipping from their grasp. For them, the window of opportunity is slowly opening or closing right in front of their eyes.

    Here’s a look at three clubs that are rounding into Cup-contending form this season, and three that may have passed their best-by date.

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  • Published On Sep 25, 2013
  • Report: Washington Capitals to host 2015 NHL Winter Classic

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    Nationals Park in Washington, DC

    Nationals Park is the most likely venue for a Capitals outdoor game. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    It wasn’t long after Washington owner Ted Leonsis promised a major announcement at Saturday’s Capitals Convention that speculation narrowed to two possibilities: a jersey retirement or the Winter Classic.

    Better bring a scarf, kids, ’cause the Caps are playing outside.

    Katie Carrera of the Washington Post is reporting this morning that the 2015 Winter Classic is coming to Washington.

    The team isn’t commenting on the report, of course. No reason to spoil tomorrow’s official unveiling.

    But that silence leaves two obvious questions hanging: who are they playing and where will it take place?

    There’s no word on Washington’s opponent yet, but we’ve seen the drill before. Big market, superstar-laden teams only need apply, so don’t be surprised if it’s Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Boston or the New York Rangers.

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  • Published On Sep 20, 2013
  • Will Alex Ovechkin leave Capitals to run in Olympic torch relay?

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    Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals

    Ambassador Ovechkin is keen on helping to promote the upcoming Games in his homeland. (Alex Brandon/AP)

    By Allan Muir

    Alexander Ovechkin has never made a secret of how important the 2014 Sochi Olympics are to him as a player and as a proud Russian.

    Shortly after Sochi was announced as the host city, he accepted a position as an international ambassador to help promote the Games. And well before the NHL committed to allowing its players to attend, Ovechkin announced that he would be there to play for Russia . . . no matter what. “I don’t care,” Ovechkin told ESPN.com. “I’ll go play in the Olympic Games for my country. If somebody says to me you can’t play, see ya.”

    Fortunately, Ovi will head to Sochi in February with the full blessing of the NHL and the Capitals because all parties reached an agreement to send the world’s best players to the Games.

    But will he have the same blessing if he heads overseas on the eve of the season opener to take part in the Olympic torch relay?

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  • Published On Sep 09, 2013
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov: I’d stay in KHL for the right contract

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    Draft pick Evgeny Kuznetsov of the Washington Capitals

    Boo! Talented center Evgeny Kuznetsov raised the specter of never playing for the Capitals. (Harry How/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    If all the talk about the KHL trying to lure Alex Ovechkin back to Russia wasn’t enough to give Capitals fans cold sweats, this might do the trick.

    In a brief interview with Sovietsky Sport today, Washington prospect Evgeni Kuznetsov said he would “seriously think about” staying in the KHL if the right contract offer came his way.

    After telling the interviewer that he was serious about leaving his KHL team, Traktor Chelyabinsk, after this season to play in the NHL, Kuznetsov was asked if there was anything that could convince him to remain in Russia.

    “If I am offered a contract here for five to seven years, then I would seriously think about it,” he said. “A long-term contract guarantees stability, and I want to feel confident about the future.”

    Kuznetsov, a center, was selected 26th overall in the 2010 draft by the Capitals and is widely regarded as both the organization’s top prospect and one of the most promising players outside the NHL. So the countdown to panic in Washington, D.C., starts . . . now.


  • Published On Sep 04, 2013
  • NHL free agents: Mike Ribeiro signs with Phoenix Coyotes

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    Mike Ribeiro (Patrick  McDermott/Getty Images)

    Mike Ribeiro will bring some juice to the Coyotes’ 25th-ranked power play. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Free agent center Mike Ribeiro has signed with the Phoenix Coyotes. Let’s just hope he checked with his wife first.

    The 33-year-old center was given four years and $22 million. The deal includes a partial no-trade clause.

    He told TSN he had hoped to stay in Washington, but the chance to play under Dave Tippett, who coached Ribeiro previously in Dallas, was a big factor in his decision when he realized that wasn’t possible.

    “He knows what he can get from me and I know what he wants and I’m ready to work for that,” Ribeiro said.

    He revealed he’d also been in talks with Ottawa and Toronto.

    Ribeiro is a devastating offensive weapon coming off a 13-26-49 season that ranks among the best of his career. He played a key role on a Washington Capitals power play that clicked at a league-best 26.8 percent. The Coyotes ranked 25th in that category last season, so he should make an immediate and significant impact on the club.

    Ex-Bruin Horton scores one of the day’s first big deals

    FREE AGENT TRACKER: Who’s available, who signed


  • Published On Jul 05, 2013


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