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.
Well, well, well. What do we have here? All of you #Grabbo Acolytes: prepare for defeat. All of you #Grabo Soldiers, get ready to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear their lamentations. The debate has been settled: it is Grabo, not Grabbo.
The battle has raged for ages (a few months) and taken many lives (140-character limits). Torontonians and a minority of Caps fans fell firmly into Camp Grabbo. Other people, meanwhile, sided with Camp Not Obviously and Completely Wrong. Because a plurality of Caps blogospherians fell into the B Singularity, we had a temporary armistice through the season’s first seven games, but recent developments may give us a lasting peace.
Quick update from Kettler Capitals Iceplex, where there appears to be changes for Friday morning’s practice. After seven games, Adam Oates has finally shifted up his lines. According to your boy Mike Vogel:
Evgeny Kuznetsov is back for Traktor. After missing almost six weeks with a shoulder injury that required surgery, the Washington Capitals top prospect returned on the ice for a game against league’s top team, SKA St. Petersburg.
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.”
There are no pictures of Brouwer’s scoreage. Step your game up, photogs. (Photo credit: Geoff Burke)
Troy Brouwer finally got on the scoreboard Monday night, scoring his first goal of the year off some nice tic-tack-toe passing on the power play. It wasn’t the only first in the Brouwer family that night though: Troy and Carmen’s daughter, Kylie, turned one.
“It’s something that I’ll remember,” Brouwer told me. “It was nice to be able to do it now — five games too long for me.”
Unable to throw a party Monday due to the game, the Brouwers hosted a large party for the baby girl at their home on Sunday. A large number of Capitals players attended, along with a myriad of family relatives. At the end, the birthday girl received a large cupcake — there’s no word on whether the 12-month-old was able to metabolize it or what her wish was — and a necklace from Mom and Dad.
Varly’s teammates congratulate him on the win. (Photo credit: Nick Wass)
Photo credit: Patrick Smith
In April 2009, a young Russian goalie by the name of Simeon Varlamov started game two of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals after number one netminder Jose Theodore’s poor game one. The 21-year-old didn’t speak passible English, sported a unibrow, and soon became the talk of the NHL.
Varlamov allowed one goal in his first game and posted a shutout the next. In six games versus the New York Rangers, Varlamov allowed a mere seven goals. Though the Caps would eventually lose to the Penguins in game seven of the semifinals, it appeared that Washington had found their goalie of the future. But two years later, Varlamov (with the spelling of his name now changed to Semyon) was unceremoniously sent to the Colorado Avalanche for a pair of draft picks.
Varly had become Washington’s main goalie after Theodore departure, but after battling groin injuries as an explosive, athletic goaltender, he struggled to get back in the crease when healthy. Bruce Boudreau, the Caps coach at the time, seemed to favor fellow 2006 draft pick Michal Neuvirth. With his contract up at the end of the 2011-12 season, Varly wanted to be assured of starting spot. The Caps weren’t interested in that. On July 1, Varlamov was sent to Colorado. He signed a three-year contract with the team the next day.
Now, three years later, Varly was back in Washington to face Neuvirth for the first time. At least in the first round, he came out on top.
“I was so nervous,” Varlamov said in much improved English, as his teammates cheered him on in the background. “Lots of memories to play here. That was my first game since I left Washington, that’s why I think I’m too nervous in warmup. My legs were shaking. All of the first period, my legs shaking.”
Photo credit: Kyle Mace / Sweetest Hockey on Earth
When head coach Adam Oates sent 22-year-old Nate Schmidt down to Hershey during training camp, he told the defenseman to “always be ready” for a call-up.
Tonight, the prospect will make his debut, filling in for an ailing John Erskine. He will become the third rookie to make his NHL debut for the team this season. Schmidt joins Connor Carrick and Michael Latta, who played in the Caps season opener against the Chicago Blackhawks on October 1st.