Photo credit: Rob Carr.
On June 9, 2010, Troy Brouwer lifted the Stanley Cup, his Blackhawks defeating the Philadelphia Flyers to win hockey’s biggest prize. But in the months leading up to it, Brouwer was not fully focused on the Cup run. That spring, Don Brouwer, his father suffered a severe stroke, which left him unconscious for a week and required brain surgery. Since then, Don has only seen Brouwer play sporadically when the Caps travel to his hometown of Vancouver.
“You appreciate big things, like life, a little bit more,” Brouwer told Chuck Gormley of CSN Washington. “He’s lucky to be here. The doctors and physical therapists did an amazing job with him getting him back to where he is today. They say the later you are in life, the harder it is to rebound and get back to normal. He did an amazing job too. His will and his fight. You don’t get to say this a lot to your parents, but I’m very proud of him and how far he’s come. He’s really stubborn and he stayed on his therapy to get better.”
Glorious human being. (Photo credit: Alex Brandon)
On January 1, 2011, Eric Fehr blasted into the offensive zone, along with the puck. He unleashed bullet of a wrist shot off the slushy Heinz Field ice. It was his second goal of the game, the 2011 Winter Classic, cementing him in Capitals history.
On Saturday, Fehr scored twice against the Pittsburgh Penguins, a redux of sorts of his 2011 outdoor game performance. Well, according to everyone but him.
“Not really,” Fehr said when asked by Alex Prewitt if that game brought back any memories. “Different kind of goals and obviously different building.”
Today, however, his goal was close as you could get to 2011: breakaway, unassisted, outdoors, and happy times at the end. Nevertheless, Fehr stuck to his talking points, giving nearly the same answer he provided the media Saturday.
“Not really,” Fehr said when asked, once again, if it brought back any memories. “It was a little bit different.”
Still, he was happy.
“It always feels good to score goals, I won’t lie to you,” Fehr, who attributed his play to “some good fresh air,” told me. “The ones in the Winter Classic feel extra special.”
Capitals owner Ted Leonsis saw it coming.
“I walked in today and saw Eric and said ‘You’re our x-factor,” Leonsis told me.
Photo: Alex Brandon
It’s the Winter Classic! Hosting the Chicago Blackhawks at Nationals Park, the Washington Capitals played maybe their most important game since the 2013 playoffs. It was a terrific affair: Two great teams on a great sheet of ice, in front of 42,831 fans and one guy in a Crosby sweater, playing wide-open hockey punctuated by all the hockey nonsense that makes this game so compelling. The result of the game is almost secondary, but I bet you might care.
NHL outdoor goal-scoring leader Eric Fehr struck first, converting an early breakaway. Alex Ovechkin crashed the net, exploiting chaos to put the Caps up 2-0 in the first period. Stop me if you’ve heard this before: that lead did not hold. The Hawks won a power-play faceoff shortly before Patrick Sharp got a sun-drenched shot past Braden Holtby. John Carlson’s turnover in the second period led to Brandon Saad tying the game, which is how it stood after forty minutes.
Then, with twelve seconds left in regulation and the Capitals on the power play, Troy Brouwer swatted a loose puck behind Corey Crawford.
Caps beat Hawks 3-2! The Caps are undefeated outdoors!
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