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James Dean day dream. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)

When Barry Trotz took over, some fans were afraid the Capitals would switch to a tight checking, boring style of play, wringing the joy out of watching players like Alex Ovechkin. Far from it. Tonight, Ovechkin was nominated for the Hart Memorial Trophy, the league’s Most Valuable Player award, for the fifth time, having won the award three times before. Though at the tail end of his 20s, Ovechkin has continued to be league’s premier sniper. He ran away with NHL’s goal scoring race by over 10 goals, netting 53 tallies on his way to his third consecutive Rocket Richard Trophy. Ovechkin also finished fourth in the league in points while his 25 power play goals provided the cornerstone for the NHL’s best man advantage unit.

The Hart Trophy is voted on at the end of the regular season by members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, with the winners to be announced at the Las Vegas Awards ceremony after the season. The other Hart nominees were Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens and John Tavares of the New York Islanders.

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The Washington Capitals have been almost powerless during the man advantage this series. Thirteen opportunities had come and gone with just one goal to show for it.

Early in Saturday’s brawl at Nassau, the Islanders were well aware of Washington’s power outage. The Isles committed two penalties and killed them with ease.

Then Isles captain John Tavares got busted for slashing and John Carlson finally made his team pay.

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Lubomir Visnovsky leaves the game after being checked by Tom Wilson in the second period. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)

Last season, searching to make an impact as a rookie with limited ice time, Tom Wilson got himself into a lot of trouble, often making questionable hits and dropping the gloves whenever he got the chance. He finished the season with the seventh highest number of penalty minutes in the NHL. Now in his second season, and sometimes skating top line minutes under new head coach Barry Trotz, Wilson has moderated his game, becoming less of a wrecking ball and more of an agitator. In game four, however, the wrecking ball was back.

With Lubomir Visnovsky attempting to corral a loose puck behind his own net, Wilson came flying in, delivering a massive shoulder to chest blow. While Visnovsky was ravaged by the hit, the check appeared clean. The puck was there, Wilson never left his feet, and he hit Visnovsky square in the chest. Nevertheless, the refs took umbrage with the hit, calling Wilson for a change. The Islanders were outraged.

“He’s an idiot,” Islanders forward Kyle Okposo said of Wilson, according to the New York Post. “That guy runs around, he hits reckless. He jumps, leaves his feet. There’s no place for that.”

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Breaking Down the Islanders’ OTGWG in Game Three

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Photo: Bruce Bennett

The Washington Capitals lost just fifteen seconds into overtime of game three, and it was totally preventable.

After a comedy of errors and poor decisions by the Capitals, John Tavares chipped a loose puck over Braden Holtby‘s shoulder to give the Islanders a 2-1 series lead.

I asked former Caps blogger Eric Rigsby– a coach, an ex-college club player, and current Old Fat Bald Guys hockey player– to break down the play for us.

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Photo from NHL.com

John Tavares is one of the best hockey players on the planet. If the New York Islanders hope to take down Alex Ovechkin, the best hockey player on the planet, and the Washington Capitals, Tavares will have to play a leading role. So, quite obviously, one of the Caps primary concerns when game planning is shutting down the Isles superstar center.

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Braden Holtby was fantastic for the Washington Capitals on Saturday, making 32 stops in the team’s 3-2 shootout victory over the New York Islanders. Unfortunately, we can’t award him with the save of the game. That honor goes to Eric Fehr‘s stick.

No, not Eric Fehr, silly. Eric Fehr’s magical hockey stick.

In the third period, as John Tavares tried to bang home the game-tying goal with 1:04 left, he clanged the puck hard off the post. The puck ricocheted high into the air where a falling Fehr lost control of his hockey stick. Instead of falling to the ice like a normal hockey stick would, Fehr’s twig decided hey, lemme just make this save for Holtby while I’m up here.

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All This Happened, More or Less: Isles Beat Caps 3-2 (OT)

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Photo credit: Al Bello

“That is my principal objection to life, I think: It’s too easy, when alive, to make perfectly horrible mistakes.” – Kurt Vonnegut

For years, the Islanders have made that quote ring true. Confused ownership, terrible hockey and of course Nassau Colosseum. The old place will soon be gone from our TV screens. The smell, the lighting, the architecture, the scoreboard stolen from the local high school. So it goes.

Now, though, the Islanders are moving on. Pretty soon they’ll playing their games in a decedent building in Brooklyn. They’re also now good at hockey. The Caps had trouble with that tonight.

The first period was mostly dominated by the Isles. Anders Lee put them up top after John Carlson failed to cling to his man. Washington then released a small furry of shots before Alex Ovechkin got the Caps back in it with another one of them goals from the circle place when his team has more people on the ice. Travis Hamonic then gave New York the lead again when his high flying wrist shot made it past an effectively blindfolded Braden Holtby.

The second was mostly Isles, but the Caps came on towards the end. The Isles took another unnecessary penalty and Ovi did The Thing. 2-2.

Isles pressed in the third but there was nothing doing.

In the extra, scrapeless frame, Nicky grabbed someone’s stick. John Tavares threw his hands in the air. That’s all. Isles beat Caps 3-2 (OT).

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Matt Moulson Named His Child After George McPhee

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Recently traded Buffalo Sabres’ winger Matt Moulson had a child on October 11th. The baby boy is named George, which is not really an uncommon name. We didn’t think twice about it until Newsday’s Mark Herrman chimed in.

Yep, Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee is the reason (or one of the reasons) why Moulson’s second child is named George.

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Ovi for Hart, Part II: Because the Capitals Needed Him

Andre Ringuette

Photo credit: Andre Ringuette

Earlier I wrote about how the Hart Trophy was a poorly defined award of limited value. Now I’ll share why I think Alex Ovechkin absolutely must have it. I’m going to share some stats and rebut some excuses, but the whole thing boils down to this: the Capitals needed the best from Ovechkin, and he delivered it.

But first, I’m going to repeat what we talked about before. This is the most valuable player to his team, not just the best all-around player. If we’re talking best player? I’d say it’s Sidney Crosby. Hands down. But most valuable? And to his team? That’s a more interesting conversation. And now, baby, you’ve got a stew going.

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Photo credit: Alex Brandon

Mike Green is a lot of things: a two-time Norris nominee, a generous human, and the beefy crush-object of thousands of women in the tri-state area. On Tuesday, however, he was a goat (and I don’t mean the Greatest of All-Time).

With five minutes to go in regulation and the game tied 2-2, Brooks Laich‘s cross-ice dump-in was swatted down by John Tavares. Tavares sent the puck into the Caps’ zone, which is where all the crazy happened. Laich sent a weak pass behind the net to Mike Green. The puck bounced off both boards and the back of the net, finally coming to rest dangerously near the crease. With Matt Moulson pressuring, Green tried to put the puck through his legs. Instead, the puck hit his skates and stopped. Moulson picked it up and fed Tavares for an easy game-winner.

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