For a decade, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom have been dominant offensive forces for the Washington Capitals, spending most of their time in DC together on one line. Over this time Ovechkin has scored 50 goals six times, becoming the greatest goal scorer in the NHL, while Backstrom has hit 70 points during five campaigns.
The Capitals spent years trying to find a quality, second line center to make the team more than just one line of firepower. They finally found one in Evgeny Kuznetsov, who flourished in his second NHL season last year, leading the team with 77 points. Some of his 57 assists, fourth most in the league, were spellbinding. So now, at least to start, Backstrom is the one backing him up — at least on the depth chart.
During Thursday’s 3-2 shootout loss, Backstrom assisted on both of his team’s goals, making enlightened and deft passes that led to two goals for Andre Burakovsky. Backstrom also had five shots on goal and won 16 of his 23 faceoff attempts. The trio was rounded out by Marcus Johansson, a Swede like Backstrom and Burakovsky.
“The Backstrom line was really good,” head coach Barry Trotz told reporters after the game. “All the other lines had spurts where there were okay, but they also weren’t as as consistent as that line. That line was our most effective by a large margin today.”
Last night, the Washington Capitals fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 in a shootout. One of the most electric moments of the night was watching Justin Williams drag Evgeni Malkin to the ice by his neck.
Apparently, this should not be much of a surprise since the two have quite the history.
He actually found out the news days earlier.
During the World Cup of Hockey, Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby did a modeling gig with GOTSTYLE, a Toronto-based retail store.
Not only did Holtby try on a few suits and t-shirts for the brand, he also answered 20 questions for the company’s YouTube channel. In the video, we learn that Holtby’s celebrity man crush is Derek Jeter and that his biggest weakness, among “many,” is that “I’m not very socially outgoing.”
Holtby also can’t help but laugh after he names his favorite post-game meal. “I can’t usually eat after games so I go straight to the wine usually.”
On Thursday, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov posted videos from a Capitals recent golf outing on social media. After chunking a large piece of earth out of ground, Ovechkin hit the golf ball a mile and celebrated like he just won the Stanley Cup. After a miracle putt from the green, Evgeny Kuznetsov did the same.
Friday, Nate Schmidt joined Mike Vogel for the team’s Rinkside Update and talked about how that team-building event went.
“Real good, our team ended up winning. We were the ‘four man scramble’ myself, TJ Oshie, Lars Eller, and Christian Thomas.” Schmidt said with a smile. “It was a lot of fun.”
Schmidt also talked about his preparation for the upcoming season, how it feels to be back with the same seven defensemen, and how he loves just chillin’ with the guys.
I have a full transcription below.
During the 2010 Winter Olympics, Alex Ovechkin rocked Jaromir Jagr with what he later would describe as “the best hit in my life.” Six years later, Jaromir Jagr’s body is ready for more devastation.
On Thursday, the NHL legend* spoke with the Miami Herald’s George Richards about Hurricane Matthew, the powerful Category 3 storm churning just off the Florida coast. The catastrophic storm was blamed for the deaths of more than 280 people in Haiti.
Next Thursday, the Washington Capitals will open the season in Pittsburgh. After being eliminated by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Penguins in six games, the Capitals will be present as Pittsburgh hosts their banner raising that night. On Wednesday, Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby downplayed that significance during an interview with DC101’s Elliot in the Morning.
“Yeah, it’s just another game,” Holtby said. “We’re gonna prepare a bit next week to be ready for Game 1.”
The reigning Vezina Trophy also spoke about being back in DC, his experience with Team Canada during the World Cup, and the So Kids Can Play starting lineup fundraiser.
Nathan Walker has already accomplished a lot of firsts. Walker is the first Australian hockey player to play in the AHL, the first Australian hockey player to be drafted by an NHL team, and the first Australian hockey player to have a snow globe made in his honor as a promotional giveaway. Walker, who was born in Wales but grew up playing ice hockey in Australia, has one last major dream: to become the first Australian to play in the NHL.
If you ask Caps head coach Barry Trotz, it’s not a matter of if, but when.
“He’s going to be a really great story when he plays in the National Hockey League,” Trotz said Monday after practice. “He’ll be the first Australian player who was born in Australia and really started training in Australia. And how he’s done it… I mean, he’ll be an inspiration to a lot of people.”
Trotz’s full comments on Walker are below.
A huge payday awaits Evgeny Kuznetsov this summer. The Russian center morphed into a superstar last season, leading the Capitals in regular season points and participating in his first career NHL All-Star Game.
This season, Kuznetsov has an inside track to becoming the team’s first line center. Pairing the upcoming restricted free agent with his friend Alex Ovechkin — one of the greatest goal scorers of all-time — could open Kuzy up to more personal success and a bigger payday.
When Caps radio announcer John Walton asked Kuznetsov if he wanted to play with Ovi to start the season, the Chelyabinsk native said yes, but had a very thoughtful response about why it didn’t matter all that much.
Alex Ovechkin stepped onto the ice Wednesday afternoon, as usual, in a red sweater. But instead of saying Россия, his jersey said Washington Capitals. As the both captain of Team Russia and a nationalist, Ovechkin didn’t want to be in Arlington, Virginia, skating at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Instead, he wanted to be playing for a champion at the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto along with Capitals teammates Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov.
But the Russians ran into Canada in the semifinals, resulting in another international defeat. Back with the Capitals, Ovechkin tried to move past the loss.
“You can talk about what if, what if,” he said. “It was fun. It was nice to represent my country out there and we do our best.”
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