Backstrom and Ovechkin at practice. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster

The sacrificial bloodletting that was the Capitals’ shootout loss to the Kings threatened to cost Washington their most important center in Nick Backstrom and a veteran defenseman in Jack Hillen.

Based on Thursday’s practice, there’s some good news: Nick Backstrom seems to be unscathed.

Backstrom’s collision with Drew Doughty the other night appears not to have been too serious. He intends to play on Saturday.

That’s very good news. It looks like it could’ve been much worse:

Jack Hillenwho was knocked out by a collision with Alex Ovechkin during overtime, was present for the team photo, but not for practice.

In Hillen’s place, John Erskine skated with Mike Green.

The forward lines, according to Katie Carrera of the Washington Post:





And on defense:




Tagged with:
  • Bilal


  • Josh Carey

    I’m not sold on Backstrom being fine. He went out early in the second and wasn’t well enough to come back in the third when we desperately needed him, yet two days later he’s perfect? I hope it’s true, but I’m far from convinced.

  • Simonezero

    Hillen looks WAY sad in the photo shoot recap video, poor guy. Thank goodness Nicky is feeling better. Hopefully we see Mikhail on Saturday too.

  • Jack Conness

    Erskine and Green. Kill me now…

  • Josh Carey

    It might not be such a bad thing against the Bruins to have Erskine in. Against everyone else, yeah probably a bad thing.

  • Guest

    We want Schmidt

  • VeggieTart

    Unfortunately, Schmidtty is injured. I heard he was practicing in a no-contact jersey, but I haven’t heard when he’ll be back.

    We could always bring up Brouillette.

  • Myan

    Go away, Erskine!

  • yv

    It would be great to see Nicky and Grabo both will play. Should be a significant boost for Caps. MG52 has played well in last games, but we will see how it will turn having Ersk-Green pair.

    On another news how about this:
    “It certainly looks like Phoenix coach Dave Tippett is scratching Mike Ribeiro and Derek Morris for a second straight game.
    — Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) March 27, 2014”

  • Cthulu’s Alarm Clock

    I remember an interview with Alfred Morris (Redskins RB), who said he left a game his rookie year after a tackle that left his right arm numb. He later described it as a ‘stinger’, said it was no big deal, and that was the only playing time he missed that year. That could’ve been what happened to Nicky…

  • Cody Adkins


  • Clint Petty

    Frustrated that I can only upvote this once

  • bggb

    Looking at those lines, just out of curiosity: what exactly was McPhee’s plan for the 2C this year?

    I mean, I love Brooks Laich, but he was the best case scenario? Ugh.

  • Josh Carey


  • bggb

    Sorry, I should clarify:

    Prior to Toronto being idiots and dropping Grabo in his lap, what was McPhee’s plan?

  • David Weichert

    The difference between a Drew Doughty hit and and OVI SMASH.

  • Oates is a hack

    Why the fuck is Kuz playing LW??? Didnt he play RW and C in russia? That Marge-beagle-Ovi line sucks, why not try kuz at center?

  • Josh Carey

    Well Ribeiro was here. I’m sure he threw an offer at him, and when that didn’t work, he went to free agency. There were a few 2C’s available last summer, and McPhee chose Grabovski. He may have went after Weiss, too.

  • Josh Carey
  • Owen Johnson

    Can’t we have Holtby play on the 2nd D line?

  • bggb

    You’re not presenting it entirely accurately.

    During the key part of free agency McPhee signed nobody. Then unexpectedly, and very late in the game, Grabo became available for an affordable price.

    So I ask again, prior to the unexpected Grabo bounty, what as McPhee’s plan, as made no moves to sign or acquire a 2C better than Laich.

    My point is that what we are seeing now is what McPhee’s plan for the top 6 was (center-wise): something very weak.

  • Shaun Phillips

    Considering how Weiss has bombed in Detroit (don’t want to talk about that signing, could’ve kept Filpula for the same amount, ugh), I think GMGM made the right call.

  • Josh Carey

    I don’t think it’s a personnel problem. I think it’s a deployment problem. I think that to start the year, MJ90 should have been 3C. That way, if Grabo or Nick goes down, a capable center can come up instead of Beagle.

    If Oates wasn’t so stubborn about handedness, I think MJ90 would have centered one of the top two lines since Grabo has been out. But that sends Beagle down to the fourth line and that’d be 3 righties on one line *head explodes*.

    I think the personnel was there to fill the 2C spot with either Brooks (kinda) or MJ90, but Oates’ deployment hasn’t been the greatest. Surprise surprise. I’d put the 2C failure on Oates instead of McPhee.

  • Lawrence

    Yeah I read into it a little bit, he only has 2 points in 9 games and he had a couple of bad games recently (-4 in one of them). His style of play doesn’t match Tippitt’s at all (and yes I know they had a history in Dallas). Ribs has taken too many penalties and isn’t masking it with good point production.

    Sad to think its his first year of a four year deal. Maybe GMGM was right about this (although it would have been even more questionable if we didn’t get Grabo).

  • CanadianCapsFan

    GMGMs plan was actually to try moving erat to center, along with the already successful fehr switch. also keep in mind if not for grabo we’d still have MattyP, so our options were backstrom, laich, MattyP, Beagle and one of fehr/erat potentially. Mcphee already stated that Erat was brought in when he determined he wouldn’t be able to resign ribeiro.

    but yeah the big thing is to not forget about perrault. theres no chance the team makes that trade if we don’t sign grabo.

  • bggb

    Heh, let’s just agree that I’m mad at both Oats and GMGM.

  • Lawrence

    I really did not like Alzner’s comments about backstrom, “I guess maybe it was just a headache, maybe one of his migraines”.

    Oh boy, please…he just happened to get a migraine after getting his body slammed. I just hope Alzner meant headache in a general sense, as in maybe his body was sore or something.

  • bggb

    The right call to do nothing? Not trying to be snarky, but GMGM had no plan for 2C prior to Grabo. It was Laich or a converted winger, neither of which is good enough.

  • -4 in one of them, you say?

  • Josh, you are the best.

  • maxim

    Hoping Grabo plays.

  • Shaun Phillips

    Oh sorry, misundertood you. I meant right call to get Grabo. Yeah if GMGM hadn’t gotten him; he’d already missed out on Weiss and Filpula (if I remember correctly) and I don’t remember a lot of top 6 centers out there last year. And yes, agree, Laich or converted winger not good enough. Maybe Mojo at 2C?

  • Shaun Phillips

    Actually wasn’t he a forward originally? Maybe he can play C.

  • Owen Johnson
  • yv

    Maybe it’ll give some extra thinking to someone, like Grabo. If you are happy where you are you might make sure that it’ll continue. And also this suggesting that playing with Ovi is not so bad career thing at all.

  • Josh Carey

    That’s what I was thinking. I didn’t see Alzner’s interview, but everyone was saying it looked like Nick came down on his left side and it could be a shoulder thing. I thought he came down on his head, too.

  • RT23

    This is great news and great news. I was trying to come up with decent lines without Backstrom and Grabovski this morning but it’s not pretty. Sucks about Hillen though. I think he has really helped Green start to reassert himself.

    If we get Nick but not Grabbo I think we should have our first 2 lines this way
    17 or 90 -19-8
    17 or 90-92-20 and let Brouwer take the faceoffs.
    If faceoffs are the main reason keeping 92 from centering then there is an easy solution. You can play center but not FO. I did this. I was a scrawny 8th grader playing for my HS and they wanted me at 2C but I wasn’t strong enough to win draws so my hulking LW took the FO’s and we immediately switched roles afterward. It work great.

  • Matt Lauer

    Someday, somewhere in the future, a moratorium on the use of this photo will be called for by a lonely voice in the wilderness…..

  • Josh Carey

    Oates’ stubbornness will keep that from happening. He said in a recent interview that sometimes the winger takes the faceoffs when it’s on the centers off side. He followed that up by saying it’s not ideal. I have a hard time believing that Oates would go for having a winger take all the faceoffs even though Brouwer is a 52% faceoff dude.

  • Marky Narc

    …and that voice will be completely ignored.

  • Alex Hughes

    Oh God not John Erskine, can’t we bring up someone from Hershey, anybody but him. And I thought he was hurt.

  • Matt McNeely

    I know it’s unpopular around here to harp on a bad plus minus because we all love Ovi and hate Shultz and have seen how the stat can be misleading… but can we at least agree that -4 in one game is certainly not a good thing and is probably indicative of a pattern for that particular game? A -4 player most likely still needs to take responsibility for poor defensive play in that game. -1, -2… bad luck, okay. But -4? Pattern. Let’s not get carried away.

  • This is a good use of GIFs.

  • Ludvigs

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!! So glad Nick is alright, but Erskine combined with Green spells certain doom. Both need to be unloaded one way or another in the off season. God I hope they prove me wrong. Like most Caps fans, I have an ongoing Love/Hate Relationship w/ Mike Green.

  • Rob Reichhelm

    I thought having Hillen back might be the one way we stabilize the pairing with Green. I really worry about our D without him in the lineup.

  • Pat Magee

    Hillen is literally the unluckiest hockey player ever. Poor dude :/

  • Owen Johnson

    Now that I checked my post again, I realized I’m now reading it in Dr. Zoidberg’s voice.

  • Owen Johnson

    Or put Holtby there. Or if he’s starting in goal, put Halak there.

  • No.

  • Put another way…

    Most forwards are on the ice for between 7 and 12 shots against per 20 minutes— roughly a game’s worth.

    Each shot has– on average- about a .08 chance of going in.

    So in sum, the chances of 4 of those going in while 0 of your own team’s shots going isn’t high– but it’s also not implausible either.

    Just because it’s an anomaly doesn’t mean it’s damning evidence of a bad player.

    If you want evidence of Ovi being a bad two-way player, use shots– not goals. Definitely not plus-minus.

    Reaching a good conclusion for spurious reasons isn’t any better than reaching a bad conclusion for spurious reasons.

  • JenniferH

    It’s not like Oates has any interest in utilizing him any other way. Pfft.

  • JenniferH


    Good one.

    That was a joke, right? Holtby starting, I mean. As if Oates would….

  • JenniferH

    Phew! Big sigh of relief about Backstrom. But man, oh, man, I’m so bummed about Hillen. I really like him and was happy he was back with us, having recovered quicker than anyone expected and now OVI SMASH. Damn. Poor guy. 🙁

  • Matt McNeely

    Ribs is the player in question here, not Ovi, just to be clear. I would never call Ovi a bad two-way player. Even if I secretly believed so. Which I do not. (I might say I wish he was a better player on the boards, but that’s it.)

    It’s just that it seems to me that RMNB has decided +/- is a completely bogus statistic in every case all the time no exceptions. And I don’t know if that’s right. Taken in the context of a single game, a highly tilted +/- (say, +/-4 or more) is usually pretty damn good evidence of a player having had a very good/very bad game. It’s indicative of a clear pattern: pucks consistently going in either the right or wrong net when that player is on the ice.

  • Zach Evans

    Some day I dream of a 1st line without Jay Beagle. Today is not that day.

  • Owen Johnson

    Wait no. Holtby is a righty. Bring back Vokoun.

  • Owen Johnson

    No we’re gonna ride through thick and thin. Unless he has a couple bad games. Then he won’t see the ice.
    Honestly I don’t have a problem with him sitting behind Halak. Grubauer on the other hand….

  • No.

    RMNB decided nothing. I’m saying if you’re looking for a characterization of how a player is doing in a game, plus/minus is a really bad stat to base it in.

  • Hockey mom

    I read an article about him Ribs recently and he specifically asked to not be asked about his personal life. I’m guessing he is going through some stuff right now personally, some of which may be specifically related to not be signed on here. As I recall he and his wife really liked this area for their kids.

  • Bonzaichkin

    Not to mention Ribs is jokes

  • Steve Killmon

    Still better stick handling skills than double nickel…