Former Capitals and Hershey Bears goaltender Michal Neuvirth made his first start for rival Philadelphia last night against the Florida Panthers, two nights after playing in relief of Steve Mason who let in four goals in 6:46 against Florida (which was a Panthers record for fastest four goals scored at the start of a game). Neuvirth, who still has “feelings” for the Caps, just set his own record last night.
“Wardo is one of those guys who does all the right things during the games and is very detailed,” Trotz said to Mike Vogel on Dump ‘N’ Chase. “He is a fun guy to be around, and he is a good pro. Anytime you see a guy like that, those guys always have friends in hockey because they’re such great teammates and for coaches, they’re great guys to coach.”
Tuesday the Sharks come to DC for the first and only time this year, marking Wardo’s first game back in Washington since the signing. We knew we had to do something special for him.
Our favorite interviewer of barely comprehensible Russian Caps, CSN Washington’s Jill Sorenson, is back in action with another dispatch from the language barrier. In a segment titled “Questions For Kuzy,” Jill drills Evgeny Kuznetsov with tough questions — like what’s your favorite TV show.
Kuznetsov struggles through every answer, but his priceless facial expressions more than make up for that.
Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom shed his baby blue non-contact practice jersey Monday morning. The Swede took rushes with the team’s second line, alternating in drills with Justin Williams, Andre Burakovsky, and Marcus Johansson. While the non-contact jersey is gone, Backstrom is still limited on the ice until he is cleared by doctors.
Backstrom will meet with the surgeon who operated on his hip this week, which will give the team a more accurate timeline on when he can return.
On Saturday night, 24-year-old defenseman John Moore had the worst night ever. The Devils, who should finish in the cellar of the Eastern Conference, were playing their second game in consecutive nights. They managed, however, to be tied with the Capitals 2-2 though 46 minutes of play. The Devils were in a position to win against a very good team. Then Alex Ovechkin happened.
The Russian machine did The Move. Ovechkin tossed the puck through his own legs, using his body as a shield. Moore missed with a pokecheck. Ovechkin then dipped his shoulder and ripped a shot past Keith Kinkaid bar down. It was a legendary play by a legendary player.
Barry Trotz loves slogans and inspirational phrases. The locker room at Verizon Center is filled with them, including some that take up five lines. Last year’s team motto of “Feed the Right Wolf” didn’t quite get the Capitals pumped up enough to win a Stanley Cup. Refreshingly, though, Trotz didn’t seek massive changes after that loss. He knows the Capitals are a good team that could win a championship. That’s why this year’s slogan is “Stick to the Script,” a brainchild of Caps video coach Brett Leonhardt.
“For us to come in this year and say, ‘Okay, it didn’t work last year, we didn’t win the Stanley Cup, so let’s go in a different path,’ that’s absolutely the wrong thing,” Trotz told The Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg. “I can see the horizon. I know where I’m going. And because I see the horizon and I didn’t get there last year, I’m going to turn left?”
To drill the idea into the players, Trotz had them watch a short video written by Leonhardt and narrated by former Capital Mike Knuble. On Saturday night before the season opener at Verizon Center, that video was revealed to roaring fans.
The Capitals got off to a slow start, going almost five minutes without a shot attempt early in the first period. Then Evgeny Kuznetsov hooked somebody. Uh oh. Naturally, Jason Chimera and Justin Williams immediately blew right past the Devils defense for a short-handed tick-tack-toe. Then, just two minutes and 28 seconds later, the unthinkable. Brooks Orpik, who missed all of the preseason with a wrist injury, scored. It was his first as a Capital and it came on a one-timer.
The Caps, though, like to disappear after they score. Maybe they go play with their ferrets. I don’t know. Something dumb probably. Anyway, because the Capitals played with their ferrets the Devils scored twice in under three minutes, first Adam Henrique and then Eric Gelinas. Then nothing happened for 25 minutes.
That was, until, Alex Ovechkin happened. The captain went end to end, blowing past John Moore before flipping a delicious, crisp and refreshing wrist shot top shelf on New Jersey netminder Keith Kinkaid. Marcus Johansson added another. Oh, and then Matt Niskanen got himself an empty netter. But wait, the Devils came back with one of their own. Shower of goals! Caps beat Devils 5-3!
On July 1, 2014, the Washington Capitals signed Brooks Orpik to a five-year, $27.5 million deal. Orpik finally scored his first goal as a Capital tonight. It comes in his 79th regular season game and second season with the team.
In the words of Craig Laughlin, it was a beautiful, goal scorer’s goal.