On Tuesday, the Capitals returned to practice for the second time since the All-Star break. Brooks Orpik rejoined the team for his first practice since sustaining his lower-body injury on November 10th. There was a roar of cheers and stick taps from the boys for his long awaited return.
Last summer, two-time Stanley Cup champion Mike Richards was unemployed. Terminated by the Kings due to his drug possession charges, Richards had to reboot his whole life. He also had to fill the hours of the day, which is where the Caseys Hockey League’s Kenora Kings come in.
With the Caps back from the all-star break, a third of the roster went on team-building event on Wednesday. Justin Williams, Braden Holtby, Marcus Johansson, Philipp Grubauer, Brooks Laich, Brooks Orpik, John Carlson, and Nicklas Backstrom braved a torrential downpour to take a private tour of The White House.
I’d give you more details, but the Caps didn’t share any. That’s okay; we’ve got social media.
For those of you who missed the game Tuesday night (either by choice or because of NHL.TV’s constant crashing), consider yourself lucky. The league’s best team had their biggest stinker of the year. After falling behind 4-0, the Verizon Center crowd — and this is insane to me — booed the Caps as they headed into the locker room for the second intermission.
But if there was one man who brought his A-game, it was Braden Holtby. Despite being given the night off by Barry Trotz, the Holtbeast made, in my opinion, the biggest plays of the night.
On February 2, 2016, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Hoo boy. I’m not gonna sugarcoat it, guys. The Caps got wubbalubbadubdubbed by the Florida Panthers. With approximately 35 thousand players missing due to various injuries and arbitrary suspensions, the remaining Caps couldn’t put the puck in the net for forty minutes, whereas the Panthers couldn’t stop scoring.
First was Jonathan Huberdeau assisted by Jaromir Jagr. Alex Barkov came second with a top shelf score on Philipp Grubauer. The second period saw goals from Trocheck and Huberdeau again, and if you noticed that none of those people are Capitals, good for you.
The Caps came back to life in the third, lifted by goals by Nick Backstom and Andre Burakovsky, but this was never a winnable game. Some dude got an empty netter, and that’s that.
Panthers beat Caps 5-2. The Caps have not won a game since January 19.
If there was one player who looked to be fully refreshed after the All-Star Break, it’d be TJ Oshie. Oshie spent the weekend in Turks and Caicos, then returned to DC in time to dangle around a Panthers defenseman and nearly scored early in the first period.
Later, despite his tiny size, Oshie destroyed Aleksander Barkov while Barkov tried to make a power move to the net.
On February 2, 2016, In Pregame, By Patrick Holden
Photo: Drew Hallowell
The Caps haven’t won a game since January 19 when they beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-3. There’s a lot of talk about the Caps as the favorite to win the East this season, but I’m not really sure how a team can be considered good, let alone a contender, when they’ve gone 15 days without a win.
The Caps need to end this prolonged slump and prove they actually have the skills it takes to win a hockey game. After all, I bet most of us on a beer league team have had more wins than the Caps over the past 15 days. To end the drought, the Caps will need to beat the Florida Panthers. The Panthers sit atop the Atlantic Division with 62 points and a 6-3-1 record in their last 10 contests.