Ovi and his teammates celebrate a power play goal on Saturday. (Photo credit: Norm Hall)
The Washington Capitals have the league’s most dominant power play. Of the team’s 52 goals, 20 have come from the man advantage, a remarkable 38 percent. Alex Ovechkin, too, relies heavily on the PP. He has 13 goals this year, seven have been a man up. More than anything else, Adam Oates’s power play has rekindled Ovi’s greatness.
All this success means one thing: if you stop the Washington’s power play, you stop the Capitals.
On November 5, 2013, In Analysis, By Peter Hassett
Photo: Derek Leung
The Washington Capitals had a tough decision to make in Tom Wilson. The promising young forward could have started the year with the Plymouth Whalers in the OHL, where he’d likely score over a point per game. Instead, George McPhee decided the 19-year-old was ready for the big show. Having played more than ten games in the NHL, Wilson is now consuming the first year of his entry-level contract, but he’s got precious little to show for it.
Playing under seven minutes a night on the Caps’ fourth line, it’s not a big surprise that Wilson has yet to score his first NHL point. Instead his role has been relegated to fisticuffs: Wilson leads the team in fighting majors with 4. For a big, physical prospect touted by some as a future power forward, the early season comes a disappointment.
Latta poses with his milestone puck. (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)
The Washington Capitals have had a wealth of fourth line enforcers over the last decade: Stephen Peat, Donald Brashear, Matt Bradley, and even Matt Hendricks. But don’t lump center Michael Latta, the other guy in the Filip Forsberg/Martin Erat trade, into that category.
Over the first month of the season, Latta has been playing some of the most inspired hockey of his career. And it’s because he’s doing a little bit of everything well.
None of that is too uncommon, but Latta also has some offensive talent. He had 38 points in 76 games between AHL Milwaukee and Hershey last year. This season, he has been Hershey’s second leading scorer before getting called up to the Capitals. He is blossoming as a player, translating the finishing ability he’s been developing in Hershey into his first NHL point: a beautiful assist on John Carlson’s goal.
When the Martin Erat trade happened last year at the trade deadline, many people (including me) criticized George McPhee for trading away the team’s second best prospect for an aging forward and a nobody. Latta is belying that descriptor, and he may yet have a long career in the NHL– just like Forsberg.
Take a look at Latta’s week and you’ll see why I’m excited.
Playing the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, Troy Brouwer scored a powerplay goal — his third of the year — off a pretty, pretty pass from Nicklas Backstrom. Brouwer got mobbed by his teammates, skated back towards the bench, and… hey wait a second.
Things looked bleak, but those are the times that game-changing players relish. With the Caps seemingly about to get run out of the MTS Centre, Alex Ovechkin scored on a breakaway out of nowhere, breathing life back into his team.
Before the game, Bowey was named player of the month. (Photo credit: Kelowna Rockets)
The Capitals selected defenseman Madison Bowey in the second round of the 2013 draft. The high-scoring defenseman was something of a draft-day dropper, and the Caps seemed pleased to get him when they did.
After getting assigned to the juniors, Bowey started the season hot. He was named his team’s player of the month in September with eight points in six games– seventh among WHL defensemen overall.
On Friday, Bowey’s Kelowna Rockets played the Portland Winterhawks and another of Washington’s defensive prospects, Garrett Haar. The Rockets won 6-2, and both Bowey and Haar had an assist.
I have provided video of Bowey’s play from that game. He is talented.
Washington Capitals Captain Alex Ovechkin is 28 year old. Over the years, he’s had his critics: no Stanley Cup, no Olympic gold, he keeps trying the same move,why isn’t Brooks Laich the captain already?
But if you look at how Ovechkin stacks up against others, he’s already one of the greatest to ever play the game. He seems destined to be a first-ballot hockey hall-of-famer.
Fun fact: did you know that with his masterful two goal performance on Thursday, Ovi surpassed Eric Lindros in goals? He entered the game with 372 regular-season tallies, the same as Lindros had at the end of his injury-plagued 13-season NHL career. Ovechkin is two games into his ninth season.
Before tonight’s home opener, the Washington Capitals will raise a new Southeast Division Champions banner for the last time. The Capitals won half of the Southeast’s 14 division titles since 1998, but as of this season they will have to compete in the tougher Metropolitan Division, a sort of super-sized Patrick Division.
But when I check my emotion and look at the facts, this move is curious on a few levels. Mathieu Perreault was an underrated player who brought the team a lot of value. Since the 2010-11 season, the Capitals have been a much better team with Perreault on the ice than off. Despite his tiny size, Perreault is a talented puck-chaser and forechecker who drives play.
Tyson Strachan didn’t make the team; will Tom Wilson? (Photo credit: Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)
With the deadline to submit opening-day rosters approaching at 5:00 PM Tuesday, the Washington Capitals moved towards finalizing their 23-player roster with a flurry of moves on Sunday.
The Caps assigned defensemen Michal Cajkovsky, Dmitry Orlov, and Tyson Strachan (who cleared waivers at noon) and forward Dane Byers to the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears. They have also placed forward Joel Rechlicz on waivers. Today was the final day players could be put on waivers before rosters must be set, meaning the Caps won’t be able to demote any more players who have those rights.
That leaves Washington with 21 players on the roster (13 forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders) and three prospects trying to crack the lineup: Connor Carrick, Tom Wilson, and Michael Latta.