Wolski isn’t dead. This is just how he celebrates goals. (Photo credit: Alex Brandon)
Wojtek Wolski was playing first-line left wing when he scored a third period goal against the Philadelphia Flyers. It was February 1. He would take 35 days to notch his next tally, which came during Tuesday’s overtime win over Boston. Wolski scored another goal less than 48 hours later– at the beginning of the Washington’s 7-1 rout of the Florida Panthers.
“It’s the fun part of hockey,” Wolski said of his recent goals. “I had so many chances in the last little while, and they weren’t going in, and we weren’t scoring, and we were losing. It’s tough, it’s frustrating. When it turns the other way and the hard work pays off, it’s reassuring. I’m really happy about it.”
Mike Milbury doesn’t think highly of Alex Ovechkin. That was clear when the failed Islanders GM delivered his frothing rant about Ovi during last week’s Caps-Flyers game. He said Ovechkin acted “like a baby,” and should instead “act like a man for god’s sake.” He said it was “an awful display of hockey” by Ovechkin. He said Ovechkin “should be ashamed of himself.”
The Washington Capitals have the third worst record in the National Hockey League. They’re lacking in top-six talent and defensive depth. It struck me, then, that their last two transactions have not gone towards solving their problems, but rather have compounded them — at least in my mind.
In the past week the Caps claimed Aaron Volpatti (who had 28 penalty minutes in 16 games with the Vancouver Canucks) off waivers and signed Hershey Bears D-man Steve Oleksy (with 151 PIMs to his name in 55 games) to a three year contract. I’m not suggesting the Caps should try to fix all their woes with a call-up or waiver pick up — they can’t. I would, however, prefer if they didn’t exacerbate the team’s issues. The Caps don’t have a problem with toughness, they have a problem with talent.
Oleksy and Kundratek pose with their milestone pucks. (Photo via the Capitals’ Instagram)
Tuesday, while also a good night for the Washington Capitals, was a great one for former Hershey Bears defensemen. First, Steve Oleksy notched his first NHL point, getting an assist on Mike Ribeiro’s second period tally. Later in the period, it was Tomas Kundratek‘s turn. With the Caps down 3-1, Kundratek put Washington within one with a pin-balling shot that hit the back of the net for his inaugural NHL goal. Thanks to Eric Fehr’s magical overtime marker, Washington came back to win 4-3, beating one of the league’s top team in the Boston Bruins. Kundratek, adding to his memorable night, had an assist on the game winner.
“It’s great to comeback in a game like this against a team like this,” Kundratek said after the game. “It’s great thing for us. We’ll have to keep going after this.”
“Fans were pushing us forward,” he added. “It was unreal. It was a great crowd.”
The past decade has seen the United States involved in two wars — one in Iraq, one in Afghanistan. We’re all aware of them, we’ve seen the headlines. But for most Americans, the country’s battles are an abstraction. It’s something on the news, not part of the stories of other human beings.
Some Americans, though, can’t remove themselves from them — the wars have taken members of their family. Husbands, wives, children, brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers: the all have loved ones who will never come home. This has unfolded thousands of times throughout the past 12 years.
We haven’t seen Alex Ovechkin like this in a while — for more than two years to be exact. On an otherwise lazy Saturday afternoon at Verizon Center, Ovi showed that he is not washed up. He can still be Alex Ovechkin. Three goals, four points, and one Capitals victory. It was his first hat trick since January 2011.
“The chances are there but just sometimes I feel the puck just doesn’t want to go in,” Ovechkin told reporters after the game. “Today it’s that kind of a game. Almost every shots goes in.”
Finally, this season is starting to look bright for the Great Eight. He struggled early in the year, registering two more collisions with teammates then he did goals for a time. Now, though, he’s scoring at his old pace. Caps fans waited a long time to see — and cheer — for that.
“To be honest with you I kind of forget what “Rock the Red” means,” Ovi said.
This is what happens when you’re in the box too much. (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)
Backstrom (boarding), Hendricks (holding), Kundratek (delay of game), Ovechkin (tripping), Erskine (hooking), Poti (interference), Brouwer (misconduct) — seven penalties, one period.
“I can’t really explain it without getting into trouble,” Karl Alzner told me when asked about the Caps’ stunning collapse and the calls that caused it in the third frame of Thursday’s game against the Devils. “It just happened.”
Alzner’s mood was echoed by many in the locker room. The Washington Capitals didn’t want to talk about happened during those 20 minutes. And it didn’t really matter whether they wanted to or not — there were no clear answers. Yes, some of the calls were iffy. Yes, they played a good game otherwise (if you also ignore the first 10 minutes of the contest). But this was unacceptable. It was a baffling display. Six penalties in 11 minutes and two goals: that’s what it took to turn a solid win into a crushing loss.Troy Brouwer added a 10 minute misconduct for arguing with the referees at the end of the game just for good measure.
On February 21, 2013, In Game Recap, By Chris Gordon
Photo credit: Patrick McDermott
I had a recap for tonight, but then the third period happened; my story was rendered irrelevant. In the span of 11 minutes, the Washington Caps took six penalties and allowed two goals to blow 2-1 lead to the New Jersey Devils. It was awful and frankly surreal. This wasn’t the ref’s fault, it was entirely the Capitals’. You cannot take that many penalties and survive. The Caps did not survive.
Everyone hates Mike Milbury. Fans, bloggers, and apparently former Washington Capitals co-captain Brendan Witt, who said Milbury “sucks ass” when he opined on the GM-cum-NBC broadcaster via Twitter. Milbury is, of course, infamous with Caps fans. He’s criticized the team many times, once referring to them as the “Crapitals.”
Milbury, general manger of the New York Islanders from 1995-2006, traded away Zdeno Chara, Roberto Luongo, and Olli Jokinen. He drafted chronically-injured Rick DiPietro over Dany Heatley and Marian Gaborik. One time, he attacked someone with a shoe.
Witt signed with the Islanders just weeks after Milbury was fired, and it seems he’s not a fan — at least not after Milbury’s intermission thoughts during Sunday’s Pens-Sabres game.
Fehr, center, celebrates his first goal against the Bolts on Thursday. (Photo credit: Scott Audette)
I was sitting in section 112 of Heinz Field as the rain steadily picked up. It was New Year’s Day, night time, and the Capitals were clinging to a 2-1 lead in the third period of the 2011 Winter Classic in Pittsburgh. As puddles were forming on the temporary ice sheet, Jason Chimera fired a centering pass to a player streaking down the middle of the ice. A couple seconds later, Eric Fehr had his second goal of the game. Washington won 3-1.
Two years later, things are different. Their coach at the time, Bruce Boudreau, is gone. As is his successor Dale Hunter. The Caps are no longer competing for the best record in the National Hockey League. Right now they’re just trying to stay relevant.
But Fehr got out before all that. When he left the team, they just finished their second straight year being eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the number one seed. Fehr had a rough last year in Washington. A victim of nagging shoulder issues (which had previously required surgery) the Manitoba native dislocated his shoulder just two weeks after the marquee match in Pittsburgh, tearing a ligament in the joint. He tried to come back after rehab, but former 20 goal scorer wasn’t the same. In May of 2011, he went under the knife to repair the damage. Two months later, Fehr, a fan favorite, was traded in a salary dump to the newly minted Winnipeg Jets. It was the team — albeit in a different incarnation — he grew up loving as a kid.
Fehr, though, didn’t step on the ice much for the Jets in their inaugural season. His shoulder never fully healed. He would play for a few weeks and then be sidelined again. In 35 games, Fehr scored just two goals. Winnipeg showed no interest in resigning him. He couldn’t get a deal before the NHL lockout.
“It was frustrating because knew I wasn’t at my best, I wasn’t at the top of my game,” Fehr said of his time with the Jets. “I feel like I was more in survival mode.”