The day before training camp opened, Andi Lambert, the wife of Washington assistant coach Lane Lambert, died at the age of 45. She had spent the last 17 years battling a rare form of breast cancer. On Saturday, the entire Capitals team, along with members of the Nashville Predators, who Lambert previously coached for alongside Barry Trotz, went up to Ohio attend the funeral outside of Cleveland.
“I know it meant a lot for him for us to be there and support him and to remember Andi the way we all know her and love her,” Trotz said Sunday. “It just tells you the class of the people in this business.”
“I guess it’s a little exciting,” Oshie said. “You kind of get that jittery feeling kinda like you had in high school when the coach said you’re starting. With NHL hockey, I’ve been here a while. It seems more like a match-up type thing, but it’s always fun to start a game.”
That conversation led to something even more fascinating: Oshie discussed the last time he felt anxious on the ice.
With the game tied and so much open ice, the overtime period should be thrilling and unpredictable. And yet Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby hazarded a prediction: there will be a lot more offense from goaltenders. Oh boy.
On Saturday, Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner spoke to the media and predicted big things from a player likely slated for the team’s third defensive pairing.
“It’s just fun to see him handle the puck out there and do some of the things he does,” Alzner said to NHL.com’s Katie Brown. “He’s a very highly skilled player and he can be a game-breaker for us. It’ll be a lot of fun to watch.”
It turns out he can still be a bit of a sap. On Thursday, Wilson’s roommate, Michael Latta, shared a screenshot of their TV that revealed T-Wilz was watching Titanic, the epic romance staring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, on repeat.
When the Capitals drafted Ilya Samsonov 22nd overall at last month’s NHL Draft, many people were surprised that the team, already stocked with goaltending talent, would select another netminder. In spite of conventional wisdom, the Capitals insisted that they always draft the best player available. In this case, Samsonov was the best player available.
“Our scouting staff as a whole, individually and as a whole, were more than happy to be able to call his name,” Capitals assistance general manager Ross Mahoney told reporters at the draft. “We’ve always talked in the past about trying to draft the best player that’s available to us and for sure we thought he was our best player that we could take with that pick, so we went ahead and took him.”
Despite a contract with Metallurg Magnitogorsk that runs for three more years, the Capitals planned on Samsonov’s attending their development camp in July to work with goalie coach Mitch Korn.
“He has a contract, but we’ve had players in the past, some Russian players that we’ve drafted and they were able to come over,” Mahoney said. “We have tremendous confidence in our goalie coaches, being able to help this young man develop his game and bring it to a level that’ll get him to succeed in the NHL.”
That, however, never happened. While the Capitals first claimed Samsonov was missing camp due to a visa issue, he was actually attending Metallurg’s training camp as first reported by our own Ian Oland. Despite the mix-up, the Capitals didn’t purport to be concerned when they addressed the issue last week.
Fans began lining up early Saturday morning, packing the top mezzanine at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. After 400 people were in their places, no more spots were issued. Caps fans were eagerly awaiting their first interaction with TJ Oshie, acquired last week from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Troy Brouwer, goaltending prospect Phoenix Copley, and a third round pick in next year’s draft. Oshie had landed in Washington the day before and would be signing autographs after meeting with local reporters.
“It was really hard to talk yesterday,” Oshie, sporting his new number 77, said in conference room at Kettler. “My fiancée and me were walking around. I was just so excited after talking to the coaches that I just want to start playing right away.”
At this year’s Development Camp, the Capitals have shied away from the myriad of scrimmages they held under past regimes, teaching the invitees rather than pitting them against each other.
“We’re doing developing more than we are evaluating,” General Manager Brian MacLellan said. “This has been more education, more development stuff.”
Nevertheless, the team still hosted a big scrimmage at the end of camp, the anchor of the team’s annual summer fanfest. With one big chance to impress Washington’s brass, the players turned in a barnstorming, high-energy game.
One casualty of the chippiness was Chandler Stephenson‘s smile. The third-round pick lost parts of two false teeth when he was high-sticked by Marcus Basara during three-on-three play.
“I didn’t see the stick but just felt my head go back,” Stephenson said. “My front four are already fake. It’s going to be interesting to see what mom says.”
When the Washington Capitals selected Alex Ovechkin first overall in 2004, they received a generational player, one that was supposed to lift them out of depths of the league and win them the Stanley Cup that has eluded them throughout their 40-year history. Eleven years later, the Caps have still not won a Stanley Cup. Despite his nearly point per game pace in the postseason, much of the blame has been shouldered on Ovechkin, the captain and face of the team. Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, who stood on the draft stage with Ovechkin back at RBC Center, however, defended his star player.