If Crosby’s seeking for inspiration, he should look no further than Ovechkin

Sidney Crosby (right) and Max Pacioretty (Photo by Francois Lacasse/Getty Images)

There were a lot of people who were happy to see Alex Ovechkin score his 500th NHL goal on Sunday afternoon. His parents were two of them. Capitals owner Ted Leonsis seemed quite delighted. Ovechkin’s teammates and the 18,003 people in attendance at the Verizon Center seemed to be having a good time, too.

But one guy who probably cheering from a distance was Ovechkin’s once and former rival, Sidney Crosby. For no other reason than the fact that a lot of the same questions that are being asked about Crosby these days are the same ones that were being posed about Ovechkin three years ago. There is little doubt Crosby is at the nadir of his career, being passed over for the All-Star Game for the first time in his career. Crosby’s play has inspired more questions than answers, as in, “What’s wrong with Sidney Crosby?” or “Are we seeing the beginning of the demise of Sidney Crosby?”

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The 10 best goals from the 501 times Alex Ovechkin has lit the lamp

Jared Clinton
Alex Ovechkin (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin became the 43rd player in NHL history to reach the 500-goal plateau when he buried a wicked wrist shot past Ottawa Senators netminder Andrew Hammond Sunday night, but you won’t find that goal among the 10 best of his career.

Because he possesses such a unique combination of speed, size and skill, Ovechkin has been able to score some near unfathomable goals throughout his career. There are a few you may recall that don’t find there way onto this list — his solo effort against the New York Rangers in the 2009 post-season comes to mind — but playoff tallies don’t count towards his 501 career goal total.

These are the 10 markers from Ovechkin’s 501 that stand out the most: Read more

Watch Alex Ovechkin score to become the fifth fastest player to 500 career goals

Jared Clinton
Alex Ovechkin (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin became the fifth fastest player in NHL history to 500 career goals Sunday night when he rocketed a shot over the shoulder of Ottawa Senators Andrew Hammond in typical Ovechkin fashion.

With less than four minutes remaining and the Capitals on the power play, Ovechkin set up in his typical spot at the top of the left wing circle before a puck ended up right on his tape. In a flick of the wrists, Ovechkin snapped the puck past Hammond before being mobbed by teammates: Read more

Braden Holtby has goalie coach to thank for breakout, Vezina-worthy season with Capitals

Ryan Kennedy
Braden Holtby. (Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Boston Bruins have had a bit of a problem recently when it comes to the Washington Capitals. Last season, the Bruins literally did not score a goal in three games against Braden Holtby and the Capitals, and on an early November night this season, Holtby is keeping the mojo going. Early on, the Bruins are putting on an impressive showing, peppering him with shots and getting a lot of traffic in front of him, but Holtby holds the fort, swatting pucks away like a samurai and dropping to his butterfly whenever the scene gets sketchy. The only blemish on Holtby’s night comes when a puck deflects off Brooks Orpik’s stick and bounces off Jimmy Hayes’ chest for a Boston goal. In a game Washington ends up winning 4-1, this is the kind of goal Holtby can now live with.

“My experience with sports psychology taught me that you control the controllables,” he said. “The ones that are hard to block out are the ones you could have done something different and should have. Trying to refocus after those are the ones you have to be mentally strong with.”

Holtby used to have a different definition of mentally strong, and it didn’t help his progress in net. But a string of goalie coaches, dating back to his junior days, have aided his evolution. His current mentor is Mitch Korn, a man who has influenced the goaltending community in perhaps an unmatched capacity. Korn’s students don’t just become better goalies. They all become NHL goalie coaches themselves. So even though Holtby and Korn have just begun their second year together in Washington, Korn has actually impacted Holtby for nearly a decade already. And the potential held within their marriage is obvious: a Stanley Cup in D.C. for the first time ever.

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Alex Ovechkin scores dazzling overtime goal after game-saving stop by Nate Schmidt

Jared Clinton
Alex Ovechkin (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin is chasing down the 500th goal of his career, and he came within one of the 500-goal plateau with an absolutely spectacular overtime winner Saturday afternoon just moments after a game-saving play by Washington blueliner Nate Schmidt.

In the extra frame of the matinee between the Capitals and Rangers, New York had won an offensive zone faceoff and came up with an incredible chance in front of Washington netminder Braden Holtby. Rangers winger Rick Nash spun and fired a shot on goal that ended up on the stick of center Derek Stepan. With Holtby sliding to his right, Stepan stepped to the left to find an opening behind the goaltender and slid the puck towards the empty net when Schmidt reached in to somehow knock the puck out of harm’s way.

Schmidt’s rejection of Stepan’s attempt left the puck sitting in front of the net, and Ovechkin picked it up, went end-to-end and scored yet another highlight-reel goal: Read more

Update: Capitals’ Johansson suspended two games for hit to the head of Islanders’ Hickey

Jared Clinton
Marcus Johansson (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Marcus Johansson has never been suspended in his career and the most penalty minutes he has racked up in a season with the Washington Capitals is 10. You won’t find many who would accuse Johansson of being a dirty player. But after a hit to the head of New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey, Johansson could be staring down the first suspension of his career.

In the first frame of Thursday’s game against the Islanders, the puck ended up on the stick of Hickey in the neutral zone and dumped the puck into the Washington zone. As soon as Hickey had released the puck, Johansson was right there and dropped the Islanders blueliner with a high hit.

Hickey remained down on the ice for a moment before heading to the Islanders’ bench. He left the bench with a member of the training staff and walked toward the dressing room. Read more

Update: Sill suspended two games for hit from behind on McQuaid

Jared Clinton
Adam McQuaid (via dafoomie/YouTube)

After dressing in the past four games for the Washington Capitals, Zach Sill might find himself watching from the press box for a few contests after he levelled Boston Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid with a hit from behind Tuesday.

Sill’s hit on McQuaid came less than five minutes into the second frame of Tuesday’s game between the Capitals and Bruins. A pass by Washington blueliner Karl Alzner was deflected by Boston’s Brett Connolly and deflected off of McQuaid towards the boards. McQuaid was chasing the loose puck with his back turned to the play when Sill crunched McQuaid from behind and sent him to the ice in a heap: Read more

Capitals sign Mike Richards, who is cleared to play right away

Ian Denomme
Mike Richards. (Getty Images)

Six months after being bought out by the Los Angeles Kings, former all-star Mike Richards is returning to the NHL.

Richards signed a one-year, pro-rated contract worth $1-million with the Washington Capitals on Wednesday.

The 30-year-old, two-time Stanley Cup champion had a difficult 2015. He was placed on waivers in January and sent to the AHL, and finished the year with a career-low 16 points. In June he was stopped at a Canadian border crossing and eventually charged with possession of a controlled substance. The Kings bought out the remaining five years and $22-million of his contract.

Richards is still awaiting trial, but he met with commissioner Gary Bettman on Wednesday and was cleared to begin playing.

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