Caps offseason looks good on checklist

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Caps offseason looks good on checklist

By JP Finlay
CSNwashington.com

After the Caps lost in the second round of the NHL playoffs, the franchise was left with a list of questions and needs. Once headcoachDale Hunter announced his departure, head coach ranked as the Caps' highest need.

The Caps hired Adam Oates to replace Hunter, and according to Rant Sports the hire filled the need perfectly. Referencing Oates' work in New Jersey with enigmatic star Ilya Kovalchuck, Rant Sports predicted a successful relationship between Oates and Caps star Alex Ovechkin.

"Though most Caps fans worship the ground Ovechkin walks on we are all aware that he is in quite a slump as of late and we would love to have him playing at his full potential. Oates is definitely a perfect candidate to make that a reality," RS said. "With Oates behind the bench, you can almost guarantee a more offensive-minded team that doesnt put all of their emphasis on dump and chase and blocking shots. Offensive players will have their time to shine while learning how to not negate their defensive responsibilities."

The site went on to praise the acquisition ofMike Ribeirofrom the Dallas Stars to address depth along the second line.

Rant Sports also approved of the Caps' decision to let the talented but inconsistent Alex Semin leave for Carolina and the new contract signed by Mike Green.

Agree with the Rant review? And, hey, do most Caps fans "worship" Ovi?

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Prospect report: Playoff time in the WHL

Prospect report: Playoff time in the WHL

Hershey update: 38-19-8-3, 4th in the Atlantic Division. Last week: 1-1-0-0

The Hershey Bears split their two games over the weekend with St. John’s with a 4-3 loss on Saturday and a 2-1 win on Sunday.

Saturday’s loss came in heartbreaking fashion as the Bears gave up the game-winner with just 16 seconds remaining in regulation.

Chandler Stephenson recorded an assist in the game, but gave up an absolutely dreadful turnover for the game-tying goal. From behind his own net, he attempted a no-look back pass that went directly to a St. John’s player who passed it to the slot for the goal.

Jakub Vrana recorded two points in Sunday’s win, including the game-winning goal.

Jonas Siegenthaler made his season debut for the Bears in Sunday’s game. He was a plus-one on the day.

The real star of the weekend for Hershey was goalie Pheonix Copley who started in both games. The young netminder was particularly strong in Sunday’s win, stopping 35 of the 36 shots he faced in the win. Since returning to Hershey, Copley is now 7-2-0 with a 1.94 goals against average and a .942 save percentage.

Travis Boyd and Riley Barber each had a goal and an assist over the weekend for the Bears.

RELATED: Caps show off scoring depth in Colorado

Other prospect notes:

The WHL Playoffs are underway. Lucas Johansen’s Kelowna Rockets jumped out to a 3-1 series lead and are one win away from eliminating Garrett Pilon and the Kamloops Blazers. Johansen and Pilon both have one assist in four games.

The news wasn’t all bad for Pilon, however, as the Caps signed him to a three-year, entry-level deal on Thursday. He will report to Hershey at the end of the WHL season which may come as early as Friday.

Connor Hobbs and the Regina Pats are on the verge of sweeping Beck Malenstyn and the Calgary Hitmen. Regina has outscored Calgary 15-5 in three games. Hobbs has recorded two assists in each game while Malenstyn has yet to record a point.

Dmitriy Zaitsev is locked in a tight battle as his Moose Jaw Warriors are currently locked in a 2-2 series tie with the Swift Current Broncos. He has one assist.

Both Shane Gersich and Brian Pinho saw their seasons come to an end in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

North Dakota loss to Boston University 4-3 in double overtime on Friday. Gersich registered eight shots on goal, but could not get onto the scoresheet. Providence also lost in the first round to Harvard 3-0 on Friday.

There is no word yet on their future plans or if the Capitals have tried to sign either to an entry-level deal. Gersich’s teammate, Brock Boeser, was signed Saturday by the Vancouver Canucks and scored his first goal NHL that afternoon. For any who may have dreams of Gersich or Pinho following suite for the Caps, that’s unlikely to happen.

The Capitals seem pretty set with their lines right now and, if they were to recall anyone as a backup, it would likely be Jakub Vrana or they would stick with Paul Carey. Neither Gersich nor Pinho would likely be the top choice for a Washington team hoping to win the Stanley Cup.

That doesn’t mean the team won’t be interested in signing them and sending them to Hershey, however.

Gersich will be a rising junior at North Dakota, Pinho a rising senior for Providence if they both choose to return to college.

Ilya Samsonov’s KHL team, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, completed a four-game sweep of Ak Bars to advance to the Gagarin Cup Finals for the second consecutive season. They will face SKA starting April 8.

While Siegenthaler returned to Hershey, there will be no such return trip for forward Kevin Elgestal. Elgestal’s season in Sweden was limited to only 25 games after he suffered a broken thumb in January. NOVA Caps caught up with Elgestal to get an update on his progress and it sounds like he will need to continue rehabbing over the summer.

Check out the full update here.

Forward Damien Riat has been selected to Switzerland’s initial team roster for the World Championships. The team will have a two-day training camp starting on April 5. This year’s tournament will be held in Germany and France from May 5 to 21.

For more Capitals coverage, check out the latest edition of the Capitals Faceoff Podcast!

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Paul George calls out Pacers with NBA playoffs approaching for not being 'pissed off enough'

Paul George calls out Pacers with NBA playoffs approaching for not being 'pissed off enough'

The Indiana Pacers appear headed to the playoffs, as they currently sit eighth in the Eastern Conference and 1 1/2 games ahead of the Bulls in ninth. Indiana could even face the Wizards, depending on how all this shakes out.

The Pacers, though, are struggling. They are 37-38 on the year, have lost six of 10 and two straight. With seven games remaining, time is running out before they have to face one of the best teams in the East in the first round of the playoffs.

Superstar Paul George is fed up with all of it and this week had some critical words for his teammates via the Indianapolis Star. After a loss to the Timberwolves, he pointed out the Pacers were lackluster against a team not even heading to the postseason.

Then, he said this:

“There’s no urgency, no sense of urgency, no winning pride,” he said. “This locker room is just not pissed off enough.”

As a guy who has led the Pacers to the Eastern Conference Finals, George knows what it takes to win in the playoffs and clearly he does not think their current roster has what it takes. Earlier this season he lamented the fact they are so bad on the road, as their 11-26 mark in away games is the worst among teams currently in the playoff picture. 

Even with George, one of the game's best players, the Pacers look like a team few would be scared of come playoff time and he appears to know it.

Via ProBasketballTalk

[RELATED: Top big man prospect to leave school for 2017 NBA Draft]