Dmitry Orlov was a surprise — but unlike most of the surprises we had this year, he was a pleasant one. The Russian rookie got his chance early on in a difficult season and never looked back, shooting and checking his way to our hearts. We’re almost glad his first season is over, though, because we weren’t sure his nose was going to survive.
Photo credit: Nam Y. Hun
Michal Neuvirth is the most patient goaltender in the world.
He had every reason to believe that he would be the starting goalie this year, and there was a slight hiccup in that plan when the team brought in veteran goalie Tomas Vokoun. Disappointing, of course, but Neuvirth didn’t pitch a fit about it, he just put his head down and tried to work harder. Neuvirth struggled this year, but when Vokoun struggled as well, Neuvirth was always there to step in.
Photo credit: Rob Carr
Brooks Laich took his jack-of-all-trades role to a new level this year, spending time on wing, center, and even playing one game on defense when the team was in a tight spot. Perhaps his most memorable moments were the ones that came between play, however — every time Laich was knocked down, he got back up. We’re not using that figuratively, this guy is resilient.
Photo credit: Clydeorama
This is unfortunate alphabetical timing, as we’ve just learned that Mike Knuble will not be returning to the Capitals next year. We’re not really over that yet, and the tear-jerking farewell post from Knuble’s Knights didn’t help. Go read it, take a minute to compose yourself, and then come back here again. We’ll wait.
Ready? Okay. Let’s review Knuble’s last year in a Caps uniform.
Photo credit: Christienne Muschi
What do we need to do to get Marcus Johansson‘s development to take that next step? Was this year’s tumult and instability too much for him? Do we need to encase Marcus Johansson in a hockey simulation where nothing ever goes wrong next year? Send him up a mountain on a quest for truth? Get him to meet DJ Tiesto? Because if we need to, we’ll do it.
Photo credit: Bruce Bennett
This was the Matt Hendricks’ year. This was the year that he broke out of his small, specific role and became a real contributor. This was the year that he made NHL goalies and women everywhere swoon with his dazzling shootout moves. This was the year that the most significant story about him was not centered around a ghastly eye injury.
Heck, he’s even got an RMNB t-shirt now. If that’s not the big time, we don’t know what is.
Photo credit: Chuck Meyers
Roman Hamrlik was good for two things this season: “Hamr”-related puns, and being used as a comparison point to demonstrate how young or old other people are, such as Dmitry Orlov (three years old when Hamrlik’s career began!) or Marc Bergevin (played hockey with Hamrlik!).
There’s one more year remaining on Hamrlik’s contract with the Caps, which means there’s one more year for the Caps game entertainment crew to make him an MC Hamr montage. They are officially on the clock.
Photo credit: ESRB
We have a soft spot for Jeff Halpern, a local boy who returned home this season after spending the last few years as an NHL journeyman. Even if he leaves the team this summer, we’ll always have the memories, and the nostalgic pictures of him in those terrible black uniforms.