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Wednesday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins took a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Washington Capitals. The four games between the two long-time foes have been brutal. The series has featured big hits, head shots, and taunting between rival fans. But during the morning skate, Braden Holtby cut through all of that nonsense and showed why he’s a great human.

The Caps goaltender, who is likely to win this season’s Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goalie, gave his stick to Brian Azinheira, a 11-yr old Penguins fan battling cancer.

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Barry Trotz Named Finalist For Jack Adams Award

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Thursday evening, Barry Trotz was named a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s best coach. Trotz led the Capitals to a franchise-record 56 wins and its second ever Presidents’ Trophy. Trotz was named a finalist along with the Panthers’ Gerard Gallant and the Stars’ Lindy Ruff. The recipient is determined before the start of the playoffs each year by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association. Trotz has never won the award, but this is the third time he’s been named a finalist, also having done so in 2010 and 2011.

Trotz will join Braden Holtby (Vezina Trophy) and Alex Ovechkin (Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award) who are also up for awards this season. Winners will be announced Wednesday, June 22, during the 2016 NHL Awards at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

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alex-ovechkin-bummed

The Capitals are on the verge of playoff elimination again. For the second straight year, Barry Trotz’s Capitals team look unlikely to pass the second round, and it’s just not right.

Washington’s franchise goalie, Braden Holtby, has stopped 663 of 702 shots (all strengths) across 23 games. That is a stunning .944 save percentage, and yet Holtby has a losing record.

Washington’s penalty kill has been perfect since Game Four of the first round, shutting down 24 consecutive power plays. That is remarkable, and yet the Caps are still about to break down for the summer.

What the hell?!

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How Are You Guys Holding Up?

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Graphic by Nathan Burchfiel, existentialism by Albert Camus

Last night, the Penguins beat the Capitals in sudden death overtime… again. The loss is arguably one of the most painful in franchise history considering the context of the Caps’ historic season and the expectations the fanbase has heaped upon the organization.

Unlike in previous decades where I childishly ripped up trading cards of Sergei Fedorov (and clogged our toilet trying to flush them), I am handling this like any mature, rational adult would: just kind of staring into the abyss wondering why I do this to myself.

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mike-weber-fail

Mike Weber chipped the puck away from the crease. It ended up on the stick of a Pittsburgh Penguin.

It’s not the first defensive turnover to lose a game this playoffs. We saw the same from Nate Schmidt and Dmitry Orlov. But in sudden death overtime against a hated foe to whom the Caps have lost 7 out of 8 playoff series, it burns.

Barry Trotz chose to give a sweater to Mike Weber over Nate Schmidt, a demonstrably better player. Whatever you think of Mike Weber’s play, the fact that he was playing in overtime was the true mistake.

The Caps, who won the President’s Trophy as the NHL’s best regular season team, are now one loss away from having just another disappointing season.

Let’s review the decisive play.

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Penguins Beat Caps 3-2: Life is Suffering

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The absences of Kris Letang and Olli Maata (and Eric Fehr) gave the Caps a major advantage in Game Four. And then Barry Trotz played Mike Weber instead of Nate Schmidt. You know how this ends. Let’s move onto discussing the game itself, shall we?

This game had a little bit of everything, including a tragic denouement. Jay Beagle got a certified puck luck goal, but Sidney Crosby got his first point (and temper tantrum) in the series. Overall, there wasn’t much suggesting that the Caps were taking advantage of the absences of the Pens’ two best defensemen.

The second period was a vomit fest. Spoiler alert: so was overtime. For a time, the Pens eventually mercifully faltered, and the Justin Williams Postseason Redemption Campaign continued. A fabulous shift by Williams and Andre Burakovsky led to John Carlson’s game-tying goal. As expected, the Caps stepped up their game for the third. A scoreless period resulted in overtime, to the chagrin of early risers everywhere.

Penguins beat the Caps 3-2 in OT. Penguins lead the series 3-1.

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crosby-hissy-fit

Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby’s hand just had a semi-violent encounter. The Russian machine slashed Crosby in the arm while trying to forecheck. Crosby, injured on the play, would immediately go down the tunnel and into the locker room.

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John Carlson continues his hot postseason. The Caps defenseman scored his fourth goal of the postseason tying the game 2-2.

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malkin-head-shot

In a series which has seemingly featured a head shot per game, Evgeni Malkin hit Daniel Winnik, surprise surprise, in the head. The play, which happened mid-way through the second period, occurred while the Caps were on the penalty kill.

Malkin was not penalized.

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jaybeagle-reaction

Jay Beagle just scored his third goal of the postseason. After winning a race for a dump-in, Beagle took a choppy backhanded shot at the net and it randomly went in.

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