Troy Brouwer has struggled this year. Despite his five tallies he has posted team-worst possession numbers along with linemate Brooks Laich. The 28-year-old has scored just one goal at even-strength. Friday night, Brouwer tried to contribute in other ways. Namely, punching people in the face.
It started when Brouwer ran Montreal Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov in the near corner. Though the hit was clean, T-Brow skated a long way to make the check. Flashy defenseman P.K. Stubban, apparently, didn’t like that. The goal-scoring d-man shoved Brouwer before asking him to drop the gloves. Troy obliged.
“I just came in and finished my check,” Brouwer told me. “He wasn’t happy with it.”
Braden Holtby and Alzner celebrate a shootout victory. (Photo credit: Jonathan Kozub)
When Mathieu Perreault was traded to the Anaheim Ducks, the Caps lost more than a talented forward. Perreault was the terrier puppy of the Washington Capitals: small, frantic, usually bouncing with joy. His post-game celebrations became A Thing. But Perreault wasn’t the one who came up with the idea. It was his buddy Karl Alzner, who was inspired by YouTube videos of Seton Hall basketball player Peter Dill. Though they both made up elaborate rituals, it was Perreault who got all the attention. So, after a while, Karl stopped trying.
“I was like ‘Man, that’d be awesome if we did that!’” the mustachioed defenseman told me Wednesday. “I said, ‘Perry, you gotta watch this! It’d be awesome if we did this after a win’” Next game, it went to a shootout. He did it, I did it, and his got a ton of attention.”
This year, though, Perreault is gone and the Capitals have won a spade of games in the shootout. Therefore, it’s been up Alzner to carry the torch. His repertoire is more advanced than Perreault’s, with Alzner featuring distinct celebrations this year: Bow and Arrow, Thor’s Hammer, and the Hulk Hogan.
Joel Ward has had a couple of hot streaks in his career. In fact, he’s making $3 million a year partially because of one (13 points in 12 games) during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Nashville Predators. Despite his playoff success, Ward’s recent regular season results have been unimpressive. In his first year with the Caps, we scored just six goals in 73 games. Last year, in a lockout shortened season, he had eight. Eighteen games into the 2013-14 campaign, he’s matched that total.
“When he came here obviously he had a great playoff for Nashville,” head coach Adam Oates said after the game. “When we’ve talked, him and I, I expect him to play now like he does in the playoffs, every night. Now, that’s a playoff game. We need these points.”
Mike Ribeiro was only a rental for the Washington Capitals, acquired to fill a void as the temporary second line center. After his half season with team, he bolted for big money in Phoenix. Many Caps fans, though, still have a soft spot for Ribs and his swag. So, what does Ribeiro think of us? Well, here’s what he said the Coyotes press corps (two people) ahead of Saturday’s game. Continue Reading
Fehrsie looking resplendent at right wing. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)
Martin Erat and Eric Fehr have both spent significant time this season stuck on the fourth line, a misuse of their considerable talent. But with Alex Ovechkin missing his second game due to an upper-body injury, both wingers now find themselves on Washington’s top trio, skating 20 minutes a night. In 120 minutes of play, the new first line of Erat, Nicklas Backstrom, and Fehr has been fantastic, registering three goals and nine points. For Nick, three of his five goals this year have come in the last two days.
So what’s the key to Nick’s newfound goal scoring ability, and the line’s success as a whole? Well, Ovechkin has generated the vast majority of the first line’s shots this season. Though they are improving, Johansson and Backstrom had the maddening tendency to pass, pass, pass early in the year. Without Ovi, has Backstrom been forced shoot the puck more, always an important factor in scoring goals? In short, no. When I asked him about it, Backstrom insisted that he wasn’t directing any more pucks toward the net than usual. A little late-night research backs him up. Nick has attempted three shots in each of the two games without Ovechkin, roughly in line with his normal pace. So, some nice shots and a bit of luck.
“Yeah, that’s just a coincidence,” Backstrom said with some sass.
Nevertheless, the temporary first line has been impressive. Erat and Fehr deserve credit for holding their own in a new and challenging position, each playing on their third different line this year. Fehr, especially, made a large jump, playing two total polar opposite roles in one week. Monday in Vancouver, he played 12 minutes as the gritty fourth line center. Saturday, he played almost twenty minutes as the first line right wing.
College sweethearts Mick Klock and Haley Buckheit are huge Washington Capitals fans. Their first real date was Game One of the Caps/Rangers playoff series last year. Mick was already a huge fan of the sport, and after that night Haley was one too.
Since then, the couple, who both live in Pennsylvania, have come down to D.C. for Caps games and bought a partial season ticket plan with the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears.
Mick and Haley wanted to have a couple’s Halloween costume, preferably one that honored their favorite team. They decided to dress up as supercouple Alex Ovechkin and Maria Kirilenko. Their costumes are perfect from the blacked-out tooth to the tennis racket.
Picking up the puck from Martin Erat, Oleksy charged towards the faceoff dot. Blue Jackets winger Cam Atkinson attempted the poke check, but Steve O went all sick nasty, blowing past him. Oleksy then dished the puck to the front of the net and Laich finished the play. Beautiful.
Boyd Gordon celebrates his first period goal on Monday. (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)
The Washington Capitals got their first hockey (non-shootout) win of the season on Monday, beating the Edmonton Oilers 4-2. The game, though, was a bit of a mirage. While the power play got back on track with two goals, their struggles at early in the game– especially at even strength– are a massive problem for the team. The Caps were outshot 10-3 in the first period despite playing against arguably the worst defensive team in the league. While the Washington media corps overlooked this in their post-game questions, Adam Oates understands the trend is glaring hole for the team.
“I’m taking suggestions right now,” Oates joked when I asked him how he thought the team could fix its liability. “We addressed it, we talk about it, and hopefully we’ll conquer it. We gotta find a way to just keep focused earlier.”