Tuesday, Washington Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan held a conference call with the media from Las Vegas, where the 2016 NHL Awards are taking place. MacLellan touched on his plans for the Caps’ restricted free agents, his thoughts on hockey coming to Vegas, and his worries about the upcoming expansion draft.
MacLellan also talked at length about current restricted free agent Marcus Johansson and what the current plans are in regards to contract talks with the Swede and his agent. MacLellan said that he was “optimistic” about the negotiations, but that some of the comparables for Johansson may have a higher salary than they are comfortable with.
On Thursday, the Capitals gathered at Kettler Capitals Iceplex to discuss another season that ended prematurely. The players were more visibly emotional than in years past at the annual end-of-season confab with reporters, promising Stanley Cups to the fans and articulating their frustrations with plenty of “failures” and “sucks.”
The news, however, came in the form of injuries revealed publicly for the first time. Karl Alzner’s ailment was at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Referred to by Braden Holtby as the team’s most important player, Alzner missed most of the final game with a torn groin. He played just two shifts early in the second period before being pulled from the game.
“I know that the first four games of the series, I was just out there filling a spot, Alzner said. “I was out there and I was not hurting the team I don’t think, but I also wasn’t helping in winning in the game. That’s when you know you can still do things, but once I’m getting beat up the ice trying to chase a guy and not able to at least stay in battles, that’s when you know it’s time.”
In the first period of Game Three, Marcus Johansson got elbowed in the head by Kris Letang. The hit, which was not unlike Brook Orpik’s in Game Two, forced a dazed Johansson to retreat to the locker room. Johansson returned for the start of the second period and ended up skating nearly 20 minutes in the game. With suspensions and fines often based on whether or not the player is injured, the league’s Department of Player Safety will undoubtedly soften the blow to Letang because Johansson came back. The Capitals forward said he passed concussion testing but had “a little whiplash.”
“I didn’t see him coming, he came from the blind side,” Johansson said. “I just looked at it, he obviously leaves his feet, and hits me in the head. It’s the kind of play you want out of the league. Doesn’t look good.”
Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby is stopping pucks this postseason at a rate of 98.4 percent. On the other side of the ice, Philadelphia Flyers goalie Steve Masonis saving just 88.9 percent of shots on net. In Game Two of the first round on Saturday, Holtby turned aside all but one of Philly’s 42 shots. Despite the Capitals getting heavily outplayed at even-strength, they won 4-1.
Jay Beagle scored his fourth career playoff goal, icing the game for the Caps late in the third period. Beags drove the center lane and nailed the top corner of the net like a 50-goal scorer, but I need to point out two crucial plays before that goal happened.
Noted goon Marcus Johansson is at it again — wait, wrong Swede. What I meant to say was: Andre Burakovsky, the team’s player with the most penalty minutes — no, that’s not right either…
Oh. Tom Wilson and Michael Latta, penalty-box regulars, have been doing some very important work at practice recently: teaching their skill forwards how to fight. Playoff hockey is right around the corner, and even though fighting is discouraged, a player has to be ready for anything.
Unfortunately, it does not appear as if the skill forwards wanted to learn.