Photo: Rob Carr

Now that the Washington Capitals will officially miss the playoffs for the first time in six years, this is a great time to focus more on the tendencies of this Adam Oates-led team. While a lot of positive stories have been written about the team’s revitalized power play and its Russian captain, there’s a lot of reasons why we think Oates may be holding this team back from bigger and better things. Like, here’s twenty of them.

Then there’s the whole issue of the Caps sometimes looking like a beer-league team on the ice. Over the last few weeks, Caps players have violently collided into each other three times. Three. Times. And in two straight games.

Because this seems to be more like a pattern than a series of freak events, I collected GIFs and video of all the times it’s happened during Oates’ tenure. It’s happened… a lot.

Jan 15, 2013 – Alex Ovechkin Crashes Into Marcus Johansson

Before the Caps even played a regular-season game under Adam Oates, there was a collision. Alex Ovechkin — who was just a few days into playing on the right wing — crashed into Marcus Johansson as they overlapped near the blue line. Important fact: the Caps were playing the ECHL Reading Royals. Johansson, who struggled in the season’s first few weeks of games, was later was diagnosed with a concussion.


Jan 24, 2013 – Alex Ovechkin Crashes Into Wojtek Wolski

Alex Ovechkin collides with Wojtek Wolski

Ten days later, Ovechkin — perhaps still not used to his new position — clipped Wojtek Wolski at the blue line in a game against the Montreal Canadiens.


Oct 12, 2013 – Alex Ovechkin Elbows Marcus Johansson

Ovechkin again?! One year later, Ovechkin — fresh off his third MVP award and hopefully comfortable at right wing — elbowed Johansson in the head as he tried to Hercules check Gabriel Landeskog. Johansson was not injured on the play– somehow.


Mar 25, 2014 – Alex Ovechkin Crashes Into Jack Hillen

Detecting a pattern? In overtime against the Los Angeles Kings, defenseman Jack Hillen — who had recently come back from catastrophic leg injury, ran full speed into Ovechkin at center ice. Hillen was injured on the play and has not returned since.


Apr 5, 2014 – Mike Green Crashes Into Jason Chimera

While executing the Worst Breakout Ever, instead of going behind the net, Mike Green cradled the puck in front of the crease. He collided hard with Jason Chimera. Chimera had a cut open up above his eye. Green was injured and has not played since.


Apr 8, 2014 – Troy Brouwer Crashes Into Marcus Johansson

In the Capitals’ very next game, it happened again. Consecutive games FTW! After Troy Brouwer took a nasty hit from behind into the boards, he skated to the bench. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it. He crashed into Marcus Johansson. That’s an injured Caps player gets double-injured and taking out his teammate while trying to get off the ice. That’s so Caps.


I don’t have the numbers to determine if this happens more to the Capitals than other teams, but I don’t remember this happening so much under Glen Hanlon, Bruce Boudreau, or Dale Hunter. Has the Oates system made the players lost, lazy, or just self-destructive? What even is going on? Why is Ovi at the center of it? What the heck?

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  • Matt Mendelsohn

    Oy gevalt.

  • Cthulu’s Alarm Clock

    Poor Mojo…

  • Jon A

    Who said Mike Green was afraid to take people down in front of the net?

  • Lawrence

    These gif’s sum up our season so well.

  • Myan

    I think it shows that the players aren’t “100% comfortable” with the systems. Personally, I was most taken aback by the last 3 collisions because they all happened in our breakout/transition game which is really telling because that’s been one of our major issues all season.

  • Diller M

    Poor jack Hillen, Ovi looks like he’s trying to catch Hillen to lessen the brain crunching blow.

  • John

    No Ovi taking out Erat in the playoffs?!

  • Oh man, how did I forget that happening? Not sure if this qualifies as the two crashing into each other. But yay, another play where a Capitals player does something and hurts one of his teammates!


  • Robert

    Still, the russian machine never breaks though. Everyone else, not so much. And Hillen just has some seriously bad luck.

  • Owen Johnson

    Ugh, I was at Kettler for that first one. It was pretty scary. Little did I know there was more of that to come.

  • Red

    It’s a compounded effect of a dysfunctional system, the players not knowing their place within said system, and as a result skating with their heads down.
    A symptom of quality coaching, no doubt.

  • GetchaGrubbOn

    MOOOOVE bi***, get out the way.

    MoJo plays Call of Duty: turns friendly fire off. Refuses to play NHL 14: no friendly fire option.

  • Joey Doukmetzian

    seeing a common thread here…ovi hitting everything he can and can’t see, and mojo on the receiving end more than once #awk

  • yv

    As Stalin said sometime ago “crush your own to scare the enemy”.

  • sheena dunn

    too bad it was his teammate!

  • Catherine__M

    Unsure which is more embarassing: the fact that it happened yet again or the fact that I was out playing Tuesday night trivia and was one of the only people keeping an eye on the game and it happened during a moment of great concentration (and silence) in an otherwise crowded pub and I *very audibly* and *very exasperatedly* said “Oh my god, AGAIN?!?!”.

  • Zachary Adomanis

    I think we all know what they are going for…

  • Jon A

    Yep. 🙁 So it goes.

  • GetchaGrubbOn

    Minnetonka machine always breaks

  • Boush

    Fehr’s worst shoulder injury came courtesy of Dave “Sorry I Didn’t See You There” Steckel a couple years back.

  • Sarah

    No explanation. But Brouwer-Mojo really was a freak accident– with that hit Brouwer took into the boards, he was probably pretty disoriented. I’ve seen people take lesser hits to the head and have no clue where they were or what direction they were going. It’s amazing he went back in the game later. As for Mojo, he was watching for a pass.
    No way to avoid this, except the ref should have blown the whistle when Brouwer was on the ice in distress. Drives me nuts when the game continues around that. This shows why it’s unsafe.

  • Stevarooni

    I’ve been predisposed to the belief Oates has told 8 and 19 consistently over the last two seasons he doesn’t like them falling into old habits and if he sees it he will and does separate them. So beyond these gifs I’ve seen a lot of times where Ovi sees Bax with the puck heading up ice and he races to go where he’s “supposed” to be versus how the play is flowing in relation to where he Actually is, and in other cases he is doing what he feels to be the most effective offensive positioning vs the “system” and so it creates confusion with his linemates.

  • Mike Reppenhagen

    Hey guys, remember Wolski? What a nice player he was. I’m so glad Oates never used him and he was a waste of a cheap contract that could have been a really comeback opportunity.

  • Semintheghost

    I know this is irrelevant ,but dose anyone remember Dimitri Krugryshov? (Not sure if I am spelling it right)

  • Shmoo

    No mention of the fact that most of these involve Ovechkin running into his teammates? And the fact that he still has little to no clue about positioning, especially when not holding the puck?
    We’re gonna need a real coach to break him in properly. He’s a wrecking ball with limited vision and understanding. Amazing shot. Crap positioning.