Over the weekend, we reported on something that felt gross, weird, and terrific all at once. Caps defenseman John Carlson scored on Caps goaltender Braden Holtby during the second of a back-to-back exhibition series between Team Canada and Team USA.
Monday morning, Team USA held their practice at Verizon Center and Matt Niskanen was asked about the awkward goal.
Sorry, Philipp Grubauer.
Coming off of a 6-3 win over Team Finland, Team Sweden made their way to D.C. and held their evening practice tonight at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.
Caps center and our sweetheart, Nicklas Backstrom took the time to talk with the media about a pile of issues including line-mate chemistry, how the world cup format compares to the Olympics, and much more.
“It’ll be nice to play in front of the home crowd and hopefully they will cheer us on,” Backstrom said to reporters while flashing an innocent grin. Don’t worry, we will.
The team is gearing up to play their next game at the Verizon Center on Wednesday, September 14th vs. Team Europe at 7:00 p.m. EST. Here’s the full transcript of Backstrom’s meet-up with the press.
Two seasons ago, Caps prospect Nathan Walker tore his ACL, ending his season early with the Hershey Bears. During the summer, the Capitals asked the Australian forward to rehab in Washington, but Walker needed a place to stay.
Renting an apartment or a hotel would be expensive for a young prospect on an AHL salary. So Caps goaltender Braden Holtby invited Walker to live at his house with his wife and two kids.
The Young Rising Sons, an up-and-coming band signed to Interscope Records, just released the first single off their new album due out early next year. Titled Undefeatable, the tune — much like the band’s previous smash hit from 2015 — is catchy af. It also has special significance for Caps fans and hockey fans in general.
First, the pop rock trio consists of two gigantic Caps fans, lead singer Andy Tongren and drummer Steve Patrick, who have most notably played street hockey with me in front of the 9:30 Club and held my ferrets.
Delving even deeper, Steve Patrick is the nephew of Capitals President Dick Patrick. The Patrick family is one of the most historic and decorated families in hockey history, featuring five Stanley Cup champions and four Hockey Hall of Famers (Lester, Frank, Lynn, and Craig). Dick Patrick’s son Chris is also a scout for the Capitals.
In the run-up to the World Cup of Hockey, Team USA goaltender Ben Bishop spoke to ESPN’s Chuck Gormley about which players in the tournament have the best offensive skills.
He mentioned a lot of Caps players.
Before most Caps home games, fans at Verizon Center are treated to a stirring, up-tempo rendition of the national anthem by Sergeant Major Bob McDonald. McDonald’s bass-baritone is popular; he has performed at the Super Bowl, the Winter Classic, Major League Baseball games, and, of course, RMNB Party 7: PARTYZORD. As an active-duty member of the Army, McDonald has entertained presidents, visiting heads of state, and supreme court justices.
This week, McDonald will perform twice at Arlington’s Signature Theatre, sharing highlights from his illustrious career and singing Broadway tunes and songs he’s sung for US presidents. Wednesday night’s performance is sold out, but Friday’s show still has tickets remaining. You can purchase tickets here.
On Sunday night, while I grilled a pizza and Bob grilled a steak, we discussed his upcoming concerts and what it’s like to perform at some of the biggest sports events in the world.
Lars Eller finally put on a Washington Capitals jersey and met with DC press for the first time Tuesday morning — eleven days after Caps GM Brian MacLellan dealt two second-round picks to acquire him. The Caps plan to use the former Canadiens forward exclusively as the team’s third-line center, replacing Jay Beagle and Marcus Johansson who both played the position at different points last season. Eller was excited about his new opportunity.
“Honestly, it’s been nothing but positive since we got here,” Eller said, after putting his new number 20 jersey on. “I’m sure it’s going to be a great fit for me and my family.”
Eller revealed that Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was the first player to reach out via text, despite being on vacation in Europe. “I don’t think there were any smiley faces,” Eller said with a laugh, when asked if Ovi included any of his trademark smilies.
The 27-year-old Dane is under contract for the next two seasons and plans to move his wife and young daughter to Washington before the season starts. Eller’s three-year-old daughter Sophia had a special request. “She asked for a pink room so I’m going to try and get her that at least.”
Photo: Patrick McDermott
On Monday afternoon, checking-line forward Michael Latta was not tendered a qualifying offer, ending his tenure in Washington. Lats will become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
“We struggled with that one,” Barry Trotz said to Elliot in the Morning the next day. “He’s been a really good soldier for us. We felt with where the game is going, in terms of our team, with four centermen, Lats is best playing in the middle and right now we don’t really have a place for him. And plus we have a couple centerman, Travis Boyd and Chandler Stephenson, who have really stepped up from the minors. Their skill sets are a little different. They’re more about speed and skill. And Lats is more about the physicality and the grind.”
“We wanted to give him an opportunity somewhere else,” Trotz continued. “Lats has been exceptional as a teammate. A lot of his teammates are sorry to see him leave. But I’m hoping the best for Lats. He’s a terrific guy. He’s a guy’s guy and a great teammate.”
On Tuesday night, I spoke to Latta and he opened up about the team’s decision to not bring him back. He also discussed his time in Washington – a time he will remember fondly – and also spoke seriously about his close friendship with Tom Wilson.
He also had some very sweet words for Caps fans.
On Tuesday night, a day after news broke that Michael Latta would not receive a qualifying offer from the Washington Capitals, I had a lengthy interview with the forward, who is now set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Latta told me that he was caught off guard by the team’s decision to non-tender him, but had nothing but good things to say about his teammates and his time in Washington.
“I was getting texts from everyone,” Latta said when the news dropped. “I wasn’t replying right away to [Tom], so he double, triple, quadruple texted me.”
“I think that’s one of the best things about hockey, the relationships you build,” Latta continued. “Tom and I obviously have become very close and will probably be one of my best friends forever. I’ll take a lot of good things from Washington, like the friendships I’ve built.”
Latta, who according to Hockey Fights has dropped the gloves 106 times in his professional career, will now look for a new team. He’s hoping to find a spot where he can bring energy every night and penalty kill. Depending on where he ends up, Latta could find himself playing against his former Caps teammates next year. It may get very awkward for fans.
For 17 years, George McPhee served as the Washington Capitals’ General Manager and Vice President of Hockey Operations. He presided over many drafts and selected superstars like Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom, and Braden Holtby.
But on Saturday, McPhee — now serving a different role as a special advisor to Garth Snow — left the New York Islanders table on the floor of First Niagara Center and found a seat in the crowd. He had a different role to perform once the fourth round of the draft began: being a dad.
“After all the years in the business, it’s torture sitting there,” McPhee said to Sports Illustrated’s Alex Prewitt about the experience.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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