connor-carrick-interview

During the mess that was Monday’s brawl-filled Capitals-Bruins game, one play jumped out at me.

With the Caps on the powerplay, defenseman Connor Carrick got the puck. He was the lone guy on the point — with Mikhail Grabovski at his right and Troy Brouwer to his left. Bruins veteran Daniel Paille went after Carrick, thinking he could cause the youngster, playing one of the hardest positions in hockey– powerplay quarterback, to cough up the puck or surrender the blue line.

What would you expect from a 19-year-old on this play? Keeping the puck in the zone and dumping it in would be satisfactory, but that’s not what Carrick did. Instead, he faked an easy pass to Brouwer and then backhanded the puck to Grabovski. No one on the ice except Carrick seemed to expect that play. He kept the Bruins in their own end with a simple, smart pass– showing NHL-quality poise in the process.

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7 Days Out: Sasha vs Sasha x 5

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The Washington Capitals will play their Metropolitan Division neighbors, the Carolina Hurricanes, five times this season. That means five wacky nights of Alex Semin vs Alex Ovechkin. Greater Sasha and Sasha Minor bashing skulls and chewing bubble gum times five! What will happen? Will Semin take a restraining penalty? Will he smoke cigarettes outside the team bus? Will it be awko taco between Semin and Grabo? Will  Semin get sassed by Troy Brouwer? Let’s hope for yesses across the board.

Game one is coming up soon, and the rest are evenly spaced out through the season:

THU OCT 10, 2013
TUE DEC 3, 2013
FRI DEC 20, 2013
THU JAN 2, 2014
THU APR 10, 2014

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Martin Erat’s Goal Was Actually Michael Latta’s

Michael Latta celebrates a goal. (Photo credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

The Washington Capitals brought their B-team players to Boston on Monday, but the Boston Bruins brought in their B-team scorekeepers. According to them, the Bruins led shots 38-14. Okay, maybe. But also according to them, the Caps’ third-period goal was scored by Martin Erat and assisted by Nate Schmidt and Mikhail Grabovski.

No. It was Michael Latta‘s. Really. Let’s take a look.

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8 Days Out: Holtbeast or Holtbust?

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Braden Holtby has faced just 1647 shots in his regular-season career. That’s not a lot. In his Vezina-winning season alone, Jim Carey saw nearly as many (1631). Carey, quite famously, flamed out of the league soon after that award-winning season, so what I mean to say is this: we don’t really know how good Holtby is yet.

I’d like to think he’s pretty good. He hasn’t dipped under a .920 save percentage in any regular season. Facing 664 shots in the last two postseasons, Holtby put up a .931 save percentage. His 2012 playoff performance was one of the twenty best ever. That’s baller, but it’s probably unwise to think that’s where he’ll remain.

Braden Holtby is going to get oodles of starts in 2013-14, and he’s gonna face a Saskatchewanian tonne of pucks. Maybe he’s the G.O.A.T. and maybe he’s the next Jim Carey– but after this season, we’re gonna have a much better idea of who beastly Braden Holtby is.

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9 Days Out: At Least It’s Not Football or Baseball

overtime

The Nationals, picked by some to win the World Series, have had a disappointing season. The Orioles are all-but-eliminated from the postseason. Robert Griffin III is 0 and 3. The Ravens’ winning record masks big concerns on defense and offense alike. And let’s not even talk about DC United.

But in 9 days the Capitals will be back. And they will be good. So let’s just get through this next week, K?

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10 Days Out: Party?

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It’s Saturday in Washington, DC. Everyone except me did the Caps Convention thing today: picking up merch, getting signatures, checking out Troy Brouwer’s shorts, nerding out with Wes, or talking trash with the new host of Caps Red Line, Mr. Alan May. From our humble little corner of the internet, Rachel, Chris, and Ian were in attendance, covering the event, and hobnobbing with the likes of you. By all reports, it was a blast.

Which reminds me: we have not thrown a party in a while. It’s been over a year. That is unacceptable. So today, ten days before the start of the new season, we hereby promise to throw a party. But it’s kind of like the Winter Classic: we’re not saying where, and we’re not saying when. We’ll figure that out soon enough. For now, rest assured: #RMNBParty6 will be a thing.

Keep on us about it though.

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12 Days Out: Gr8 Expectations for Alex Ovechkin

alex wide

Alex Ovechkin won the Hart and Richard Trophies last season. He was pretty great– particularly on the power play. Looking forward to the 2013-14 season, there’s good reason to lower our expectations for him, but let’s not carried away.

First, we must acknowledge that Ovi excelled last year due to a superb-but-unsustainable Washington power play unit as well as his own red-hot shooting. Neil established long ago that Ovechkin is a streaky shooter, and Ovi’s shot percentage at the tail end of the season was one of the hottest streaks of his entire career– as evidenced by the blue line below, a 40-game moving average of Ovi’s shooting over his career.

alex

It’s unavoidable for that percentage to back off, but take heart. Ovechin’s raw shot totals (in red above) are finally rebounding after a decline that started in 09-10 and bottomed out during the doldrums of Hunter Hockey. If Adam Oates can continue to reinvigorate Alex Ovechkin’s game– particularly at even-strength– and maybe lighten his load with a Grabovski-anchored second line, Ovi just might do something great.

Not like 50-goals great, but still, ya know, great.

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joe B

Last night’s Baltimore Hockey Classic was fun. Alex Ovechkin shattered glass just by looking at it, Braden Holtby chillaxed, and decapod crustaceans of the infraorder Brachyura attacked the ice. But the big treat for me– aside from, ya know, Caps hockey– was the return of Joe B’s suits.

As the world’s foremost academician on the topic of Joe Beninati’s gameday clothing, Tuesday night was like discovering an ancient tome of heretofore unknown wisdom. And to think: we’ve got like 80 more of these on the way.

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14 Days Out: Grabovski!

grabo

After a bit of a delay securing a work visa, presumptive second-line center Mikhail Grabovski has finally joined the Capitals in Arlington. If you’re looking for a reason to get excited about the Caps in 2013-14,  he’s a good place to start.

Get this: he’s a forward from the former Soviet Union. He dipped out on his first team when he wasn’t having fun. He drives puck possession like a maniac. He’s blamed for poor playoff performance. He’s basically Alex Semin 2.0.

We’ve already been through the ringer with the guy. We wanted him badly at 2C in July, though we didn’t think it would happen. Then, it happened, and there was much rejoicing. Then we rambled on about how big of an upgrade he was (and we agreed it is “Grabo” with one B.) Then some folks did the “rah rah Ribeiro” thing, and we were having none of it. Then we took a guy to task for improper use of #fancystats. Then we learned Grabo had a no-trade clause. Then human rain cloud Neil Greenberg said Grabo was bueno, and we knew it was legit.

George McPhee did good.

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Joel Rechlicz Scores Shootout Goal– No, Really

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Artists’ rendition by Peter H. Age 29. (Click to embiggen)

Joel Rechlicz has played 26 games at the NHL level and come away with a career total of one point: an assist. He’s not now nor has he ever been a goal scorer. Which explains the reaction of Caps radio man John Walton when Rechlicz was tapped to take the fourth shootout attempt of Monday’s exhibition game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

“Oh my goodness.”

 

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