Photo: Kevin Hoffman

The Washington Capitals managed to defeat the Buffalo Sabres 2-0 at First Niagara Center despite missing their entire first defensive pairing in Brooks Orpik and John Carlson. While Orpik been out most of the year with a mystery lower-body injury, Carlson missed his first game in nearly six years after suffering a lower-body injury of his own against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night. Carlson played 25:11 that evening. On Monday, he was replaced in the lineup by prospect Connor Carrick.

Carlson, who ended a streak of 412 consecutive games, was just 10 games away from matching Bobby Carpenter’s franchise record of 422.

Continue Reading

Tagged with:
 

evgeny-kuznetsov-players-tribune

Photo: Yury Kuzmin

Derek Jeter’s Players’ Tribune has published an article by Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov touches on his deep-seeded passion for the sport, the differences between Russian hockey and the NHL, and his experiences with Alex Semin.

I’m just going to blockquote my favorite parts, but please read this whole article because it’s amazing.

Continue Reading

Tagged with:
 

Jason Chimera is Flying High in 2015

NickWass122715

Photo: Nick Wass

Last season, Capitals forward Jason Chimera was at times in open revolt against head coach Barry Trotz. The veteran winger tallied just one goal in his first 18 games. By December, he was a healthy scratch for the first time since 2013. He sat in the press box again later that month, a demeaning moment captured by EPIX’s Road to the Winter Classic crew.

“I think it’s embarrassing as a player when you get sat out,” Chimera said at the time. “I think as a player that’s played a long time, it’s embarrassing.”

Continue Reading

Tagged with:
 

Patrick McDermott121615

Photo: Patrick McDermott

The Capitals have the best record in the National Hockey League. They are playing their most impressive hockey in years. On Saturday, after not skating for four days during the Christmas break, the Capitals pounced on the hobbled Montreal Canadians for their seventh straight victory, with Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jay Beagle, and Jason Chimera providing the scoring.

“I think it’s huge for us,” defenseman Nate Schmidt said. “I think with this team, we showed tonight, we don’t need everybody going. We have secondary scoring. It takes a lot of the pressure off some our top guys.”

One of those top guys, in fact, is Schmidt. Since Brooks Orpik went down with a lower body injury in early November, Schmidt has been called on to play on the top defensive pairing with John Carlson, one of the team’s stalwarts for the past five seasons. Against the Canadians, Schmidt tallied two assists, tying his career high in points and helpers.

Continue Reading

JaredSilber122015

Photo: Jared Silber

On Friday night, after allowing goals on back-to-back shots, Braden Holtby was pulled in favor of backup netminder Philipp Grubauer with the Capitals down 3-0. Those goals, however, were not the result of Holtby’s poor play. Instead, the Capitals’ defense was at fault, which head coach Barry Trotz acknowledged after the game.

“I was tired of our team leaving him out to dry,” Trotz said.

The change jumpstarted the Capitals. The team went on to score five unanswered goals, easing the three-goal deficit left by Holtby and earning a victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Grubauer was perfect in relief, making a key save right before TJ Oshie scored to narrow the gap to one.

On Sunday night, Holtby once again allowed goals on back-to-back shots as the Rangers took 3-1 lead into the first intermission. Nevertheless, Holtby was back out to start the second period. This time, however, Trotz did place blame on Holtby.

Continue Reading

Tagged with:
 

Jared Silber122015

Photo: Jared Silber

The Capitals don’t lose very much — they’ve fallen in regulation just six times this season. One of those losses, a 5-2 defeat, came November 3 at Madison Square Garden to the New York Rangers, a division rival. Though the Capitals outshot New York 34-22, some players weren’t happy with the way they played, as Washington was doomed by odd-man breaks against.

“I thought that was one of our worst games of the year,” Capitals goalie Braden Holtby, who took the loss in the game, said Saturday. “We let their strengths overpower ours in that game. They got a lot of off the rush chances, which is what they thrive on.”

Continue Reading

Tagged with:
 

niskanen-hit

Hockey is becoming increasingly less violent. Head shots are punished, fighting is going extinct, and speed and skill are becoming paramount. Nevertheless, there’s still a place for a good open-ice hit, like the one Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen delivered on JT Brown in the third period of Friday’s grand comeback. The Lightning took exception to the hit, which knocked Brown’s helmet off. The testy nature led to a Capitals power power that tied the game, completing the rally.

“That happens a lot now nowadays unfortunately,” Niskanen said of Tampa’s reaction. “Everyone everywhere says they want good clean checks, but then they want you to answer for it. It’s understandable. We do it too. We get riled up if someone gets hit pretty hard. But it’s a hockey game.”

Continue Reading

Tagged with:
 

Jacquelyn Martin121915

Photo: Jacquelyn Martin

With the Capitals down 3-0 midway through Friday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Capitals head coach Barry Trotz made a goalie change. He pulled star netminder Braden Holtby, the league’s leader in wins and goals against average, replacing him with backup Philipp Grubauer. Holtby slammed his stick on the bench before ripping off his mask off and kicking it down the tunnel to the locker room. No longer in control, Holtby was too agitated to sit down, watching play unfold with his hands on his hips for several minutes. It was the first time Holtby has been pulled all year.

“We’ve got so used to Braden being so strong for us that we tend to be a little loose sometimes,” Trotz told me Saturday morning. “He’s been erasing our mistakes. I was making a statement: enough’s enough. He’s been our MVP from game one on. Why are we doing this to him?”

Continue Reading

Wilson121815PatrickSmith

Photo: Patrick Smith

Tom Wilson has a reputation for hitting hard, and not always cleanly. Late in Wednesday’s game against the Senators, Wilson checked Ottawa forward Curtis Lazar. The hit looked vicious, with Lazar’s head whipping sideways as he fell to the ice. Wilson was given a 10 minute misconduct and a match penalty for intent to injure. The latter would have resulted in an automatic one-game suspension. Wilson insisted after the game that he made a legal hip check to remove a player from the puck, which is clear when looking at the slow motion replay of the hit.

“I understand that I’m kind of under the microscope,” Wilson said yesterday according to Katie Brown of NHL.com. “The game as a whole is under the microscope right now.”

In this case, the microscope worked in Wilson’s favor. According to the CSN’s Chuck Gormley, Wilson’s 1o minute misconduct and match penalty will be scrubbed by the NHL, allowing the 21-year-old bruiser to play Friday night at Verizon Center. The Capitals were expecting the league to make this move.

Continue Reading

Tagged with:
 

NHL: Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins

This is so weird. (Photo: Charles LeClaire)

On October 29, the all-time leader in outdoor goals, Eric Fehr, returned to Verizon Center for the first time since signing with the Capitals’ hated rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Fehr, injured and unable to play in the game, was saluted by the team with a tribute video.

Last night, Fehr got to suit up for the first time against his former team. The Penguins rubbed salt in the wound by reminding us about it at every turn.

Continue Reading

Tagged with: