“The one thing I would love the hockey world to know about Alex is that has the worst style ever,” Brouwer said of his captain. “He only has a few suits and he wears a tuxedo shirt with one of his suits.”
Not only do the Washington Capitals have a talented team on the ice, they also sport a number of gifted people off of it. I mean, heck, PA Announcer Wes Johnson has been in a Julia Louis-Dreyfus sitcom, a John Waters movie, anda national TV commercial with Ray Lewis.
On Saturday, Caps anthem singer Bob McDonald will spread his wings in concert at AMP by Strathmore in Bethesda (doors 6:30, show 8pm). Tickets are still available as of right this moment, but you should get on it now, because I’m told they’re going fast.
Saturday, Filip Forsberg will play at Verizon Center for the first time. Caps fans eagerly awaited this moment when he was drafted 11th overall in 2012. But in March of 2013, Forsberg was sent to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Martin Erat and Michael Latta. It was a bad trade from the start, made worse when Adam Oates ran Erat out of town. Ever since, it’s been a sore spot for Caps fans. This season, the wound has been ripped open. Through 75 games, Forsberg has 56 points and is in the running for the Calder Trophy. While Caps fans still miss him, it seems Washington never made much of an impression on Forsberg, who laced up for the Capitals just once, during the team’s 2012 Development Camp.
“From coming here, things turned out in a way that no one really saw coming,” Forsberg said Friday, when he visited Kettler Capitals Iceplex for the first time since the trade. “They’ll always be a part of it, but obviously I never really made anything for the Capitals.”
On Thursday night, Adam Oates was back behind the bench at Verizon Center for the first time since being fired at the end of last season. Much has changed since then. On this night, the Capitals were playing with sticks that were familiar to them and their coach was not giving his players the cold shoulder. But the most important change, at least on this night, came on defense. Oates instituted a defense system that required blueliners to give up the puck almost immediately after gaining it. This led to forced passes and a myriad of odd-man breaks against. It turned former Norris Trophy nominees like Mike Green into subject of ridicule. The Capitals defense, on the whole, was very bad.
This year, however, things are different. In offseason, new general manager Brian MacLellan added some much needed balance to the Capitals by signing Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen to big money deals. New coach Barry Trotz has also freed up its defensemen, allowing them to carry the puck when necessary. This has led to a resurgence for Green, who has 39 points this season. Other blueliners have also chipped in. Through 73 games, Karl Alzner had more than doubled his career high in goals and surpassed his career high in assists.
Reps. John Katko, Pat Meehan, Erik Paulsen and Tom Emmer pose with Lawmakers teammate Peter Bondra after defeating the Lobbyists in the annual Congressional Hockey Challenge. (Photos by Chris Gordon)
When you hear that someone famous is a hockey fan, it has novelty, something not reserved for fans of baseball, basketball, and football. While we may be absorbed in the community, hockey is the smallest of all major professional sports in the United States. Many Americans have never watched it. Fewer have tried it. On Wednesday, however, it was featured at American’s center of power. In the afternoon, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman went to the Hill to meet with members of Congressional Hockey Caucus and announce Thurgood Marshall scholarship recipients. In the evening, four of those congressmen played in the seventh annual Congressional Hockey Challenge. Representatives John Katko (R-NY), Tom Emmer (R-MN), Erik Paulsen (R-MN), and Pat Meehan (R-PA) competed for the Lawmakers. They were joined on their team by former Capitals player Peter Bondra (RW-Slovakia) as well as administration officials, congressional staffers and Canadian Parliament member Gord Brown.
Original young gun, Mike Green, is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Green has arguably been the team’s best defenseman this season. He’s fourth on the team in points (39) and has the best possession (52.6 percent) among regular Caps defenseman. He improved the Capitals’ shot-attempt percentage two percent when he’s on the ice (after adjusting for score effects). He’s a big part of the team’s success.
Brooks Laich hadn’t scored since January 7. Since then the $4.5 million a year player had been a healthy scratch and now a fourth liner. That bottom line, though, is filled with rejected top-sixers rather than talentless scrubs — one member of the Sabres organization quipped that it was better than Buffalo’s first line. On Saturday night, that line — Laich, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson — added Washington’s fourth tally of the night, Laich’s first goal in two months.
“I sort of flashed back to the first goal I ever scored in the NHL,” Laich told reporters after the game. “It was in Montreal and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I got back to the bench and Glen Hanlon he says ‘congratulations.’ I was like ‘dude, I can’t stop smiling.’ He was like ‘good, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.’ This one sort of felt like that.”