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The 12 best Capitals moments at Verizon Center


The 12 best Capitals moments at Verizon Center

The Verizon Center is no more. The building is still there, but the name is not. On Wednesday the Verizon Center officially became Capital One Arena ending an 11-year era for the Washington Capitals.
The building first opened its doors in 1997, but as the MCI Center. It did not become the Verizon Center until 2006. While the MCI Center hosted two Stanley Cup Final games and saw the team raise a conference championship banner, the Verizon Center will still leave fans with plenty of happy memories. Here are the best:
April 3, 2008: Ovechkin breaks Luc Robitaille’s record

Luc Robitaille is one of hockey’s all-time greats and it took Alex Ovechkin just three seasons to beat his single-season record for most goals by a left wing. Locked in a tight race for the playoffs in which the team could not afford anything but a win, Ovechkin came through scoring his 64th and 65th goals of the season in a 4-1 win over Tampa Bay to break Robitaille’s record of 63.

April 5, 2008: Caps win Southeast Division in the last game of the season

After years of regular season success, the luster of a division championship has faded, but that wasn’t true in 2008. Washington had not reached the playoffs since 2003 and had not won its division since 2001. The Caps looked like the worst team in the NHL at the start of the season, but Bruce Boudreau breathed new life into Washington after a mid season coaching change. After a late surge in the standings, it all came down to the last game of the season. Washington needed a win to edge out Carolina for the division and reach the playoffs and they got one, downing Florida 3-1.

RELATED: Samsonov willing to play in AHL, does not believe Caps are 'cursed'

April 11, 2008: Ovechkin scores late game winner in his first playoff game

The first playoff game of the Ovechkin era did not start out all that well with Philadelphia taking a 4-2 lead into the third period. Mike Green scored twice to tie the game, however, and then Ovechkin pulled off this beauty, stealing the puck twice and scoring the late go-ahead goal.

December 28, 2008: Mike Gartner’s number retired

Mike Gartner spent 10 seasons of his Hall-of-Fame career with the Capitals, scoring 789 of his 1335 career points. The team honored him in a game against Toronto by retiring his No. 11 jersey and hanging it in the rafters alongside Rod Langway’s 5, Yvon Labre’s 7 and Dale Hunter’s 32.

February 18, 2009: Ovechkin’s insane goal against Montreal

Everyone knows about the magical goal against the Coyotes, but as incredible as it was, there was an element of luck to it. This goal against Carey Price, however, was pure skill and, for my money, is the best goal of his career.

April 24, 2009: John Tortorella goes crazy

John Tortorella has always been a fiery figure in the hockey world and that came to a head in the playoffs in 2009. As head coach of the New York Rangers, Tortorella lost his temper in Game 5 in a 4-0 loss. He squirted water at a fan and then threw the water bottle into the crowd. When things got really heated he grabbed a stick before cooler heads finally prevailed. Tortorella received a one-game suspension and the Caps managed to battle back from a 3-1 series deficit thanks to….
April 28, 2009: Sergei Fedorov clinches series win over Rangers

Perhaps one of the biggest goals in the history of the franchise, Sergei Fedorov sealed the first playoff series win of the Ovechkin era with a late third period goal. Locked in a 1-1 tie in Game 7, Fedorov streaked down the ice, put on the breaks and aimed his shot top shelf to beat Henrik Lundqvist.

May 4, 2009: Dueling hat tricks

In their first playoff series against one another, the Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby rivalry was as good as advertised. In Game 2, the game was not between two teams, but really between two players as Ovechkin and Crosby each netted a hat trick. Washington would go on to narrowly defeat the Penguins 4-3 in that game.

February 7, 2010: Caps win 14th straight

After winning 13-straight games, the Caps hosted the rival Penguins looking to extend their winning streak. The city was covered in snow after a blizzard, but the fans still came out in force. Pittsburgh jumped out to a 4-1 lead and looked ready to finish the Caps' streak, but Washington forced overtime thanks to an Ovechkin hat trick and Mike Knuble was able to net the game winner.
January 10, 2016: Ovechkin scores his 500th goal

Ovechkin scored twice the day before in Madison Square Garden to pull within one goal of the 500 mark. Thankfully, the Caps came home for their next contest allowing the fans to witness the Great 8 join the exclusive 500-goal club with a power play tally against Ottawa’s Andrew Hammond. Ovechkin wasn’t done either as he would score his 501st goal later in the game.

January 5, 2017: Caps halt Columbus’ record run

Columbus came to Verizon Center the winner of 16-straight games, just one win shy of the NHL record set by Pittsburgh in the 1992-93 season. That streak came to a screeching halt as the Capitals dominated the Blue Jackets 5-0. Five different players scored for Washington while Braden Holtby turned aside all 29 shots he faced on the night.
January 11, 2017: Ovechkin scores 1000th point

With 999 career points, Ovechkin scored just 35 seconds into the game against the rival Penguins for point No. 1000. Ovechkin took a pass from Nicklas Backstrom then cut to the inside to wrist a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury. The Great 8 would add yet another point in the second period with his second goal of the game.

MORE CAPITALS: Alex Ovechkin gets no love from NHL Network

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2017-18 Metropolitan Division Preview: New York Rangers

2017-18 Metropolitan Division Preview: New York Rangers

Last season, the Metropolitan Division was the toughest in the NHL, producing the Stanley Cup champ, the regular season champ and three of the top four teams in the overall standings. How’s the division shaping up for 2017-18 after a summer of change for a few of its eight teams? This week, CSN is taking a look at each team’s offseason moves and predicting how they’ll do this winter.

Team: New York Rangers.

2016-17 Results: 48-28-6 (102 points, fourth in the division). Defeated Montreal in the first round before losing to Ottawa in the second.

Notable acquisitions: D Kevin Shattenkirk, G Ondrej Pavelec, C David Desharnais, D Anthony DeAngelo and assistant coach Lindy Ruff.

Notable departures: F Derek Stepan, G Antti Raanta, F Oscar Lindberg, D Dan Girardi, D Kevin Klein and F Tanner Glass.

When they will play the Caps: At Washington Dec. 8, at New York Dec. 27, at New York March 26 and at Washington March 28.

MORE CAPITALS: 25 most important Caps: No. 22 Pheonix Copley

2017-18 Rangers Analysis: Following their second round loss to the Senators, this much had become clear about the Rangers: in order to return to contender status they needed an offseason refresh on the backend.

So GM Jeff Gorton got to work.

He signed hometown standout Kevin Shattenkirk, the top prize on the free agent market, to a team-friendly deal. He re-upped late-season addition Brendan Smith. He also bought out longtime Ranger Dan Girardi, while 32-year-old Kevin Klein retired from the NHL.

As a result, the Rangers will enter camp next month with a revamped—and improved—blue line that’ll boast Ryan McDonagh, Shattenkirk, Brady Skjei and Smith in the top 4.

The third pair? There’s options, including 10-year vet Marc Staal, Nick Holden and 2014 first rounder Anthony DeAngelo, acquired in the June trade that sent top line center Derek Stepan to Arizona. (The Stepan deal, which also sent valuable backup goalie Antti Raanta to the Coyotes for DeAngelo and a first round pick, cleared much needed cap space, some of which was used to sign Shattenkirk.)

Up front, the Rangers’ offense (fourth best last season at 3.09 goals per game) figures to miss Stepan and his 55 points, but the group still looks awfully potent with the likes of Mats Zuccarello, J.T. Miller, Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, Michael Grabner, Rick Nash and Mika Zibanejad shouldering the scoring load.

In all, New York returns nine of its top 10 point-getters from a year ago, while adding power play wiz Shattenkirk.

Over the past six seasons, the Rangers have advanced to the conference final three times and the Stanley Cup final once. With the renovation on defense, might this be the year Henrik Lundqvist and Co. finish the job?

2017-18 Rangers Season prediction: 

Speaking of Lundqvist, I suspect he holds the key to unlocking New York’s full potential.

He’s been the Rangers’ rock for past decade, but you can’t gloss over the fact that he’s 35 years old, has logged some hard miles and is coming off the worst season regular season of his career, during which he posted a .910 save percentage and a 2.74 goals against average. He’s also returning from a sprained knee that he suffered while backstopping Sweden to the gold medal at the World Championships in May.

In a recent interview with NHL.com, Lundqvist said he doesn’t expect the knee to give him any trouble. But he also acknowledged the need to be more consistent, saying of last season, “The highs were as high as any other year. The lows were a little too low.”

Was a blip? Or is King Henrik slowing down? The answer, right now, is not clear.

If Lundqvist bounces back, though, I like the retooled Rangers’ chances challenging for the division title…and, perhaps, a much bigger prize, as well.

More Metro Division previews:

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The 25 most important players for the Caps: No. 22 Pheonix Copley


The 25 most important players for the Caps: No. 22 Pheonix Copley

Every player on an NHL team plays a role. Some roles are bigger than others.

The Caps will look to their prospects to take carry a bigger load than in recent years while there while the team’ leaders and superstars will continue being tasked with leading the way.

Jill Sorenson, Tarik El-Bashir and JJ Regan are counting down who the 25 most important players for the Caps will be in the 2017-18 season.

Today’s player: No. 22 Pheonix Copley

How does the team's No. 3 goalie make this list? Because there is a good chance he will not be the No. 3 goalie for long.

Copley originally signed with the Capitals in 2014 as an undrafted free agent. He was shipped off to St. Louis in 2015 in the trade package that netted Washington T.J. Oshie, but the team reacquired Copley in 2017 as part of the Kevin Shattenkirk trade.

RELATED: 2017-18 Metropolitan Division Preview: Philadelphia Flyers

The move was an instant boost for Hershey. Copley managed a 2.31 GAA and .920 save percentage in 25 games with the Bears and played well in the playoffs until a groin pull prematurely ended his postseason.

As good as Copley looked in Hershey, general manager Brian MacLellan did not target the 25-year old netminder just to boost the AHL squad. Copley was brought in as a possible replacement for current backup Philipp Grubauer and there is a good possibility that he could take that role at some point this season.

It's no secret that Grubauer wants to be a starter. After a season in which he posted a 2.04 GAA, .926 save percentage and 13-6-2 record, one could argue he is ready to make that jump. After Vegas selected Nate Schmidt in the expansion draft and with no goalie market over the summer, Grubauer still remains in Washington, but that does not mean he will remain for the entire 2017-18 campaign.

Some goalies don't pan out for teams and others get injured. There will be teams out there who will find themselves in need of a goalie this season and they will come calling, perhaps even as early as training camp if someone suffers an early injury. The Capitals are a team with obvious needs. They do not boast the same depth they have had in recent years and will likely be willing to listen to offers for their German backup. If and when that happens, then Copley will most likely step make the jump to the NHL as backup to Holtby.

Check out the full list of the Caps most important players as it comes out here and check out previous player profiles below.

— No. 25 Aaron Ness
— No. 24 Chandler Stephenson
— No. 23 Riley Barber