- President Obama poised to grant clemency to nonviolent drug offenders: report
- Teen OK after riding in wheel well of Hawaii jet
- Kraft recalls 96K pounds of Oscar Mayer hot dogs over cheese error
- Boy Scouts boots church as host after gay leadership dispute
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s new book raises 2016 presidential speculation
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Rep. Marsha Blackburn: Hillary Clinton won’t be first female president
- French president accuses Syria’s Assad of gassing his own citizens
- Jimmy Carter’s grandson makes gains in governor’s race in Georgia
- Yemen: Airstrike targets al Qaeda training camps
Capitals build on wins over pair of struggling teams
TORONTO — The sense of relief was palpable as the Washington Capitals left the ice Saturday night at Air Canada Centre. Their confidence was back.
Two nights and two victories, the first time notching consecutive victories in more than a month.
“It was important,” forward Matt Hendricks said after the 4-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. “I think Lou Brown says it best in ‘Major League.’ You win two in a row and you win the third one and it’s called a winning streak, right?”
It’s also called winning at the right time, with Monday’s 3 p.m. NHL trade deadline an inevitable crossroads of the season.
The Caps’ recent trend of losing, coupled with the still-uncertain status of star center Nicklas Backstrom led to questions of whether general manager George McPhee would be a buyer, seller or somewhere in between.
And while players like to defer on questions about the trade deadline, perhaps stringing a couple of victories together made the difference.
“We definitely built some momentum going in,” Hendricks said. “When it comes to the trade deadline, everyone kind of views it the same way: It’s part of the job, part of the business, and what happens happens. Hopefully, we swayed some opinions. We’re playing well, and we like our group.”
Changes almost are certain in some form before the league’s moving and shaking is done Monday afternoon. A second-line center might be high on the shopping list, as players such as Columbus’ Samuel Pahlsson and Buffalo’s Paul Gaustad are impending unrestricted free agents.
McPhee told CBC in Canada that he would not make rental moves, only trades that would make sense beyond this season.
“We’ll just see how things go. I don’t know whether we’re going to make a hockey trade or do a rental or do something more permanent or do nothing,” McPhee said Feb. 16. “I don’t know. You have your own ideas, but they may not develop into anything.”
It makes sense for the Capitals to avoid falling into the trap of winning now at the expense of the future. Even though they’re on the cusp on a playoff spot, Backstrom’s concussion and a formidable group of teams atop the Eastern Conference make it hard to envision even a couple of trades turning Washington into an immediate Stanley Cup contender.
But players in the locker room want whatever helps reach that ultimate goal.
“I think for players, no matter what team you’re on, you’re trying to win a Stanley Cup,” said forward Jeff Halpern, who never has been on a team that’s even won a playoff series. “We know that there’s teams winning around us, and just to keep even with them we’ve got to start winning some games. Trade deadline is its own thing. That’s a management decision, an organization decision and as players you just try to take care of your own business.”
That’s what these back-to-back victories over the Montreal Canadiens and Maple Leafs were: taking care of business. Montreal’s languishing in the Eastern Conference cellar, and Toronto has lost eight of its past nine games.
Goaltender Michal Neuvirth, who backstopped both wins said it’s “absolutely great” for the team’s confidence, especially proving it can score first and have some success away from the friendly, red-filled confines of Verizon Center.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- WHYNO: Tomas Vokoun gets unexpected Stanley Cup shot with Penguins
- Brandon Meriweather, Redskins' secondary ready for bounceback year
- Kirk Cousins embraces role as Redskins' offseason starter as RG3 rehabs from injury
- Capitals notes: Realignment won't prompt roster remake
- Despite Caps' first-round playoff exit, Adam Oates' first season as coach left a positive taste
Latest Blog Entries
- Redskins injury updates (5/23): WR Pierre Garcon, CB Josh Wilson each had labrum surgery
- Capitals 'love' Matt Hendricks, but how much?
- Wojtek Wolski signs in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League
- Tom Poti won't return to Capitals, plans to continue his NHL career
- Is Tom Wilson ready to be a regular for Capitals?
Women losing coverage under Obamacare, too
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- Former Ranger breaks silence on Pat Tillman death: I may have killed him
- Scalia to students on high taxes: At a certain point, 'perhaps you should revolt'
- USAID documents cite Hillary Clinton in chaos of Afghan aid
- Special Forces' suicide rates hit record levels casualties of 'hard combat'
- CURL: Shelly O first lady Michelle Obama comes in last
- Inside China: Marine's comment on islands draws sharp Chinese response
- Building a D.C. memorial for an endless war bumps into regulations
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
- No rush: Bob Goodlatte waits for heads to cool on heated legislation
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.