Washington Capitals rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov has struggled in both adjusting to the North American game and learning the center position. To hide his deficiencies, head coach Barry Trotz has limited Kuznetsov’s ice time, banishing him to the fourth line, and even scratching him for one game (which, let’s be honest, was painful to watch).
However, with Andre Burakovsky becoming strangely mortal lately, Trotz gave Kuznetsov a promotion to the second line against the Islanders.
Hockey is a game of inches and bad bounces. Sometimes it’s the littlest and strangest things that lead to goals. In the third period on Thursday, Tom Wilson indirectly helped make Alex Ovechkin‘s highlight-reelgame-winning goal happen, and dude wasn’t even on the ice.
With 6:18 left in the game, Wilson delivered what I can only call a jockstrap-jostling hit (I just made that up) to Dennis Everberg in the offensive zone. A few seconds later, the game clock was stopped when the puck was played with a high stick.
Ovechkin – Backstrom – Wilson
Johansson – Burakovsky – Brouwer
Chimera – Laich – Ward
O’Brien – Latta – Beagle
And the extra forwards:
Kuznetsov – Fehr – Volpatti (IR)
With Brooks Laich’s shoulder finally healed, the lines had to be juggled. It appears Caps rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov will be scratched for the first time in his career against Chicago on Friday. Eric Fehr will join him in the press box, scratched for the second straight game.
Skating in his second game of the season on Saturday, Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson looked to make an impact in any way he could. That included getting in his first fight of the season with Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas after Eric Fehr crashed into Lightning goalie Ben Bishop. Gudas skated towards Fehr, and Wilson was having none of that.
They dropped the gloves. Boys will be boys. Willy Baby unleashed one vicious punch that connected early in the fight. Gudas, who doesn’t wear a face shield (this is important for later), then skated off the ice and went to the locker room.
When Gudas came back to the Lightning bench, he was wearing a full cage.
Sometimes the most captivating television comes from surprising places. Like, forget putting the twins in a room and forcing them to be funny, just take a camera man along with Caps color guy Craig Laughlin as he goes anywhere. To the grocery store. To the bathroom. Doesn’t really matter where.
That’s what CSN did on Saturday. During the first intermission of the Caps-Flames game, CSN aired a two-minute segment of Locker traveling up to a Calgary mountain top. Sounds simple, but it was a laugh riot.
Last Tuesday, Canada played the Czech Republic in National Junior Team Development Camp in Montreal. Because the Washington Capitals had two top picks from the 2014 draft, forward Jakub Vrana and goaltender Vitek Vanecek, playing, I recorded the game to take a closer look.
Vanecek allowed six goals on 37 shots in Canada’s 6-2 victory. With so much rubber going his way, the 18-year-old Czech had more than enough chances to display his strengths and weaknesses.
The Washington Capitals had one of the best power plays in the league last season. They scored 68 goals on 278 opportunities for a 23.4 percent conversion rate, just behind Pittsburgh. They fired 85.8 unblocked shot attempts per 60 minutes on the PP, just behind San Jose. The Caps power play was deadly, but it was not perfect.
The Caps allowed ten shorthanded goals, the fourth highest total in the league. Alex Ovechkin, who played 93.2 percent of the Caps power play, fittingly, was on ice for 9 of those 10– sending his plus-minus, which is dumb and so is your face, down even further.
When we talk about things we want for the 2014-15 Capitals, ‘continued success on the power play’ is always part of it. But the Capitals should also look into what went wrong while playing a man up. Because it’s summer, and because I was worried that story about optimism might have made you unacceptably chipper, here’s a dour collection of 2013-14’s shorthanded goals and an assessment of who was to blame for each. Let’s party.
Social media is a wild and wacky world; one that we as a society don’t fully understand. I deal with this a lot in my day job. Stuff is just not clear. Twitter’s “favorites” feature in particular is kinda poorly designed. It means different things to different people, and the feature is not nearly as private as the name suggests.
But the point I really want to make is this: Alex Ovechkin has favorited just one tweet, and it was his own.