Caps - Flames Live UpdatesFollow me on Twitter @APISports today starting at 3 p.m. Eastern for "mostly unbiased" Caps - Flames live updates!
Caps vs. Flames NotesThe Caps face a stiff challenge today from a Calgary Flames squad that is desperate for points and is superior to the recent "desperate" Eastern Conference foes the team has faced.
Washington enters the game today with a league-best and team-record 109 points and having secured at least one point in 26 of its last 29 contests. A victory by the Caps today would lock up the Eastern Conference regular-season title, the first in franchise history, and would tie the team record for wins in a season (50) that was set last year. The Capitals also are seven points in front of San Jose in the race for the President's Trophy. Washington has eight games left, while the Sharks have seven remaining contests.
Calgary owns the 14th-best overall record in the NHL, but in the stronger Western Conference their 83 points leave them on the outside looking in, six points behind Colorado with seven games to play. So, to say that this is a must-win for the Flames would be an understatement. Calgary, which has lost two straight and is 5-5 in its last 10, is better on the road than at home with a solid 18-13-6 road mark.
The Caps will be without fourth-liner Boyd Gordon, who is in Hershey rehabbing a back injury that has nagged him all season, and 24-goal scorer Brooks Laich, who was hit in the face with a John Carlson slaphshot that hit the crossbar in practice earlier this week. He has missed the last two games after playing in more than 250 straight contests. Wednesday's victory against Pittsburgh marked the first time in head coach Bruce Boudreau's NHL career that Laich was not in the lineup. Scott Walker skated in practice yesterday and could be available today for Washington. Shaone Morrisonn, who sat out Thursday's shootout loss to Carolina, is questionable after earning the team hardhat with a club-best nine hits vs. the Pens.
Eight of the Caps' last 15 games and six of their past nine have gone into overtime as the team seems to be readying itself for playoff-style hockey. The Flames defeated the Caps, 2-1, in Calgary in the only meeting last year despite an 8-minute power play for Washington in the contest. The Caps have won five straight games vs. the Flames at Verizon Center.
Washington is on pace to score more goals than any team since the 1995-96 Pittsburgh Penguins and have scored 289 goals on the season, 45 ahead of the next-closest team (Vancouver), and their plus-80 goal differential is 28 better than Chicago. The Caps not only lead the league in overall goals, but also first-period, second-period and third-period goals and they have the best come-from-behind record in hockey. Still, in an indication of their recent commitment to defense, Washington has allowed three or fewer goals in seven of its last eight and eight of its last 10 outings. Caps' goalie Jose Theodore has not lost a regulation decision in 19 contests (17-0-2) and has a 2.42 GAA and .927 save percentage in that span. He has won seven straight, posting a 1.95 GAA and .937 percentage in those contests.
Calgary, on the other hand has scored just 189 goals, but their 190 goals allowed is the third-best number in the Western Conference and seventh-best overall. With their desperation and defensive style, today's matchup at 3 p.m. in D.C. should prove to be a playoff-style game.
Today's contest matches the top NHL overall and home power play (Washington, 25.5 percent) against the no. 11 overall penalty kill (Calgary, 83.2). The Caps have struggled a bit overall on the power play (25th, 79.1 percent), but have been solid at home (10th, 84.8 percent) and have shown tremendous improvement and greater commitment in the last seven games. Calgary's power play is 25th in the league overall (16.4 percent) and 15th on the road (16.8 percent).
Notable Numbers: The Caps are 38-2-3 when scoring three or more goals.
Captain's Choice: Since naming Alex Ovechkin captain, Washington is 25-3-5 and has gone from five points down in the race for the Eastern Conference regular-season crown to 16 poins in front.
Greatest Toaster Ever
Don Cherry Owns Matt CookeOn Coach's Corner. I have to say this is the first time in a while I'm in complete agreement with him. Cooke is a P.O.S. and I comment Cherry for calling him out on it:
"Last year in the playoffs against Carolina, I met him in the hall. Or he met me in the hall ... and he said to me, 'Are you gonna have the guts to say to my face what you say [on] TV?' And I said 'yeah' about six inches from his face: 'You're a gutless, backstabbing little ...,' and I can't say what I called him."
Amazing Hockey Graphic Novel...yes, really._Ghost Stories_ by Jeff Lemire
Toronto-born artist and author. I don't know if anyone on this site has read it, or if anyone is even in to graphic novels. I'm definitely not a big graphic novel guy, but this book is incredible. The art is beautiful, the story is very moving, and there's a ton of cool hockey stuff in it. I read it in one sitting. It would ruin it to tell you any of the story, but please check it out. You'll be glad you did.
Air Canada Delays Flight for Hockey GameVANCOUVER (Reuters) - Canada's largest airline has learned it sometimes has to take a back seat to the country's biggest sporting passion, ice hockey, the head of Air Canada said on Tuesday.
The airline was forced to delay a flight from Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games because passengers watching the end of gold medal final on airport televisions ignored repeated calls to board.
"We incurred a flight delay for a reason Air Canada had not yet encountered in over 72 years of existence," chief executive Calin Rovinescu told a business gathering.
The Canadian fans were rewarded for their delay, as the nail-biting end to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics saw Canada beat arch-rival United States 3-2 in overtime.
This might be the most Canadian reason for delaying a plane ever.
Denis Grebeshkov Gets Emergency Testicle SurgeryDenis Grebeshkov brought his puck-moving flare to Nashville last week.
Unfortunately, the Edmonton Oilers' injury bug also followed him to the Predators.
The former Oilers defenceman got hit in the groin with a shot during the Predators' 4-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday. The blue-liner reportedly needed emergency surgery on one of his testicles after the game.
Losing hurt, but this was a real pain. So after only four games with Nashville, Grebeshkov, who has averaged 16:28 a game with the Predators, is out for several weeks with what the club is calling a lower-body injury.
The Preds have also lost Canadian Olympian Shea Weber to a suspected arm or hand injury, but hope he'll be back this week.
Bob Murray Accused of Attacking a WomanDucks' GM Bob Murray is being accused of attacking a woman with a chair following last year's game 7 loss to the Red Wings in the Western Conference Finals.
By Spiro Papuckoski, QMI Agency
The Anaheim Ducks and general manager Bob Murray are facing a lawsuit from a Michigan woman who claims she was injured by the GM during last year's NHL playoffs, reports TMZ.com.
Rachel Paris, 55, who says she was working as a TV broadcast stage manager at the time in Detroit, accuses Murray of smacking her with a chair following the Ducks' Game 7 Western Conference semifinal loss to the Detroit Red Wings on May 15.
According to the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Michigan, Murray "picked up a high back chair and struck (Rachel) thereby knocking (Rachel) to the ground."
She also names the Ducks in the suit because "they had a duty to ensure that proper measures and protocols were in place to help curtail Bob Murray's violent and aggressive nature."
Paris is demanding more than $75,000 in damages.
A Detroit Police report noted that Murray picked up a high bar stool and hit Paris on the left chest, arm and shoulder area. She was treated by first aid personnel.
Paris said in a phone interview to Fox Detroit last spring that Murray was apparently upset over her enthusiasm and used a stool on her to express his displeasure.
"I was taken to the boards by Bob Murray and survived the hit. I felt like I was cross-checked and I didn't even have the puck," said Paris.
At the time, Paris declined to file a formal police complaint.
Cats that look like HitlerOr ''Kitlers''