Winning the Presidents’ Trophy is becoming old hat for the Washington Capitals, though this time it could be more important than ever.
The Capitals beat the New York Rangers 2-0 on Wednesday to wrap up their second consecutive regular-season points title, the top seed in the Eastern Conference and the Metropolitan Division title. With all those banner additions, the best home team in the NHL will have home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.
Even though Washington beat opponents with nothing to play for and six regulars out of the lineup, Alex Ovechkin is rolling and believes he and his teammates are trending positively as they finished at the top of the league standings for the third time in eight seasons.
“It means we’re best team in the season, but the most important season is coming soon,” said Ovechkin, whose shot was tipped in by Justin Williams for the game-winner on a power play. “I think everybody focusing, everybody playing the right direction.”
Evgeny Kuznetsov also scored and Braden Holtby had a 24-save shutout of the Rangers, who are locked into the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference and will face Atlantic Division champions the Montreal Canadiens.
New York looked to be going through the motions, but Washington coach Barry Trotz said there was “unfinished business” and his players took care of it in a game that had all the intensity of the pre-season.
The Capitals did not acknowledge their accomplishment, but they understood what was at stake.
“Some guys gonna say they didn’t care, they’re [a] liar,” said Kuznetsov, who scored for the fourth time in 19 games. “It’s always nice to win something.”
For Washington, Ovechkin getting back on track and Kuznetsov scoring for the fourth time in 19 games made for good signs with a potentially difficult first-round matchup looming.
Trotz said the Capitals never talked about winning the Presidents’ Trophy, but rather about winning the Metropolitan Division and giving themselves the all-important home ice in the playoffs.
“It just gives us that opportunity to have the last change in a Game 7 or crowd behind us, or whatever,” Trotz said. “It’s a point of pride that we’ve been consistent.”
The Capitals were eliminated by the eventual champions the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round last year and got knocked out in the first round by the Canadiens in 2009-2010.
Only Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Karl Alzner and John Carlson remain from the team that lost Game 7 to Montreal that year.
That past matters far less than the advantage of home ice and first place this spring, which means avoiding a brutal first-round opponent.
“You obviously want to not play either Pittsburgh or Columbus in the first round, but in the end it doesn’t matter,” said Holtby, who leads the league with 42 victories. “You got to go through good teams and hopefully this just gives us a little bit more of an advantage.”
APPROPRIATE RESPONSE: The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan expressed ‘sincere regret’ for publishing the image on its in-house magazine and Web site A satirical mock-up depicting the Tokyo Games logo as the novel coronavirus has been pulled from online after Olympic organizers branded it “insensitive” and said that it infringed copyright. The design combines the distinctive, spiky image of the coronavirus cell with the blue-and-white Tokyo Games logo. It appeared on the cover of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan’s magazine. The Tokyo Games have been postponed until next year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left hundreds of thousands of people dead and halted sport worldwide. Club president Khaldon Azhari yesterday said that the club had decided to withdraw the image and remove
Uncertainty grips next year’s postponed Tokyo Olympic Games: Will there be fans or empty stadiums in 14 months? How will thousands of athletes, staff members and technical officials travel, be housed and stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic? And the Tokyo Games are not the only event. China, where COVID-19 was first detected, is to hold three mega-sports events in the year after the Tokyo Olympics are set to close. The World University Games in Chengdu, China, are to open, with up to 8,000 athletes, only 10 days after the Tokyo Games close. Next come the Beijing Winter Olympics beginning on Feb. 4, 2022,
The COVID-19 pandemic has stalled young Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas’ burgeoning career, but he remains philosophical about the tennis shutdown. The world No. 6 would have been preparing for the French Open that was originally scheduled to start this weekend, but was postponed to September. While he is missing life on the ATP Tour, Tsitsipas believes that the lockdown has given the planet a breather. “I actually think they should put us in lockdown once a year — it’s good for nature, it’s good for our planet,” Tsitsipas said in an Instagram Live conversation for At Home With Babsi on Eurosport’s Instagram page. “I
When South Korea’s domestic women’s golf tour held its premier event last week — without spectators because of the COVID-19 pandemic — no fewer than three of the world’s top 10 players took part. The country of 52 million people has a disproportionate share of the women’s world golf rankings, providing eight of the current top 20. In a demonstration of their prominence, South Korean women have won at least one major every season since 2010, with coronavirus cancellations perhaps the biggest threat to their run this year. The phenomenon, players and commentators have said, results from driven parents, intense training, a highly