One of three returning players for the US, Riley Barber will be relied upon leadership and scoring (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Three Washington Capitals draft picks have been selected to participate in USA Hockey’s World Juniors training camp, which will be held in Minneapolis this month. It will determine who will represent the country in Malmo, Sweden this winter.
Forwards Thomas DiPauli and Riley Barber, as well as defenseman Connor Carrick (all drafted by the Caps in 2012) are up for roster spots.
“Thank you, Hockey Gods.” (Photo credit: Alex Brandon)
Through 24 games this year, Mike Green had yet to find the back of the net. Though playing on the Capitals’ high-flying power play, Greenie was in one of the longest goal scoring droughts of his career. In fact, his 62 shots on goal were the most from any player without a marker. Late in Washington’s loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, however, the former 30 goal scorer finally lit the red light.
“I wish it was on a different night, but yeah,” Green said when asked if he was relieved. “Hopefully the flood gates open up.”
Fehr scores on Friday. (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)
Eric Fehr has rarely had an easy season in the NHL. Under Bruce Boudreau, the former 18th overall pick was often under-utilized, banished to the bottom-six or the press box. Late in his first stint with the Washington Capitals in 2011, Fehr suffered a serious shoulder injury, a problem that plagued him for nearly two years. Because of that, he struggled in his only season with his hometown Winnipeg Jets after being traded from Washington. Looking for a job after the NHL lockout, Caps general manager George McPhee decided to take another chance on Fehsie. The 28-year-old, for the most part, succeeded, notching 17 points in the shortened season.
Rather than settle in with a nice role on second or third line, however, Fehr was asked to try something he’s never done before: play center. He spent much of October at pivot, registering just one goal. The shift, Fehr admitted, was difficult. Playing in the middle requires you to be much more aware, along with increased defensive responsibilities and not having a set position on the ice. Fehr’s struggles were understandable. Playing center for the first time in not something you can adjust to in a few preseason games. After the experiment Fehr then spent two games on the first line in early November after Alex Ovechkin went down with an upper-body injury. He did well in that spot, picking up a few points that week.
“It’s a very unique season for me,” Fehr told me Friday night. “I knew coming there was a good chance I was going to play center, but it’s been a little bit different.”
Inexplicably, head coach Adam Oates then scratched him for the next nine games. He was allowed back in the lineup only when another player in the coach’s doghouse, Martin Erat, got sent to the press box after he requested a trade.
“He was ready to get back in and he’s provided a spark for us,” the coach said of Fehr. “He’s played good.”
On November 25, 2013, In News, Video, By Chris Gordon
Since coming to the Washington Capitals in April, Martin Erat has twice requested a trade: once early this season and again last week. During the same timeframe, Erat scored just one goal. You might expect Caps general manager George McPhee to be disappointed. He gave up an elite prospect in the hopes Erat would fill a vital top-six role. Instead, he ended with a fourth liner-cum-healthy scratch who wants the hell out of Arlington.
McPhee, however, has a different view.
“Things change,” he told reporters at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Tuesday. “No regrets. We did what we had to do then, and we’ll do what we have to do now.”
The GM explained that then when he made the move for Erat in the spring, the injury status of Brooks Laich was uncertain. He didn’t even know whether the forward would be back for the 2013-14 season. The Erat trade, then, wasn’t meant to shore up a long-term hole, but to make a push for the 2013 Stanley Cup.
“You want to give your team the best opportunity possible and we will always do that,” McPhee said of winning the Cup. “You can’t have the guys work their guts out all year and then not help them out at the deadline if there’s something to help them with. So we made that deal.”
That didn’t take long: forward Martin Erat, acquired from Nashville at the 2013 trade deadline along with Michael Latta in exchange for top Capitals prospect Filip Forsberg, now says he wants to leave Washington.
Speaking with Czech news agency iDNES.cz and translated by our friend Lindsey Novak, Erat expresses dissatisfaction with the ice time he’s getting in Washington and seems eager to move on.
Igor Kravchuk’s standing to the left, Bilyaletdinov is to the right.
Russian national team head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov was at Verizon Center on Friday. Bilyaletdinov, together with Team Russia’s North American scout former NHLer Igor Kravchuk, watched three potential Russian Olympians: Alex Ovechkin, Andrey Markov, and Alexei Emelin. A few nights before, Bilyaletdinov was at Verizon Center to watch Evgeni Malkin play the Capitals.
The Washington Capitals have a glaring hole: they are terrible in the first period. The team is being outscored 24-15 in opening frames, one of the worst differentials in the league. Friday night, it happened again: the Montreal Canadiens took a 3-0 lead less than 14 minutes into the game.
The Caps know this is a problem too. It’s existed all year and you’d have to be stupid to miss it. Most troubling, though, is the lack of answers the players seem to have for the issue. They know it’s there, they just can’t stop it.
“Maybe we need some better music or something,” Troy Brouwer quipped. “I don’t know. We gotta find a way. We gotta find it fast.”
After losing two in a row in kind of stunning fashion, Adam Oates has changed up his lines for Saturday’s big game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Martin Erat is expected to be a healthy scratch, and Eric Fehr will make his first appearance since November 2nd.
Johansson – Backstrom – Ovechkin
Fehr – Grabovski – Brouwer
Chimera – Laich – Ward
Volpatti – Latta – Wilson
Martin Erat is the third-strongest forward when measured by both possession and on-ice goal percentage. This will be his first healthy scratch of the season. For the record, Troy Brouwer is the team’s weakest forward in possession– kind of stunning for a second-line player– but his goal percentage is even (7 goals for, 7 goals against) thanks to the team-high save percentage his goalies offer when he’s on the ice: .956.
The incredibly productive third line of Chimera-Grabo-Ward has been broken up, promoting Grabo to 2C in time for a game against the team that bought him out over the summer. Brooks Laich takes his place at 3c.
Returning Eric Fehr to the lineup is a welcome change, but at the cost of Martin Erat is …odd.
The Washington Capitals have assigned defenseman Dmitry Orlov to the Hershey Bears. With the expected return of Mike Green to active service vs Montreal tonight, the Caps have apparently hit their quota on offensive-minded, left-handed defensemen without a goal to their name.
So ends Orlov’s second stint with the Capitals this season. Orlov was first called up on October 30 before getting re-assigned on November 13th. While on the ice, Orlov did not allow a single shot or goal against his team.
Orlov now returns to the Hershey Bears, where he has been averaging a point per game (2 goals, 6 assists in 8 games). The Bears will play the Binghamton Senators twice this weekend.
Evgeny Kuznetsov and Jan Bulis are two of the Traktor’s highest-paid players (Photo credit: Vitaly Gubin/HC Traktor)
Sports.ru has revealed the list of the 90 highest-paid KHL players. Unsurprisingly, Ilya Kovalchuk, who retired from the NHL to sign with SKA St. Petersburg, tops the list at $10.3 million per year (in US dollars). Alexander Radulov, who signed with CSKA Moscow a year ago, holds second place with $7.5 million per season. Sergei Zinovyev is inarguably the worst contract in the KHL. He’s a center in the last season of a five-year deal with Salavat Yulaev whose production has fallen dramatically during that contract, but he still makes $4.7 million per year, third highest in the league.
The list also features a few names that should be familiar to Washington Capitals fans.