hendy-fight

For three seasons, Matt Hendricks gave his heart and soul to the Washington Capitals. There were big hits, paralyzing shootout goals, and fights. Lots and lots of fights. When Hendricks’ contract ran out in 2013, he signed a new one, a large one, with Nashville– then bounced around until he found a home in Edmonton.

On Wednesday, in what was the weirdest moment of the night so far, Hendricks checked two (2!) guys at the same time, Michael Latta and an Edmonton teammate. Hendricks was then forced to drop the gloves with first-year Caps forward Liam O’Brien.

Perhaps an awkward moment for Caps fans?

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Nicklas Backstrom Scores 500th Point (GIF)

500-in-501

Playing the Atlanta Thrashers on October 5th, 2007, Nicklas Backstrom scored his first NHL point, an assist on Michael Nylander’s power-play goal. Five-hundred games and 2,570 days later, the 26-year-old Swedish center has scored his 500th career point, a power-play assist on a John Carlson goal.

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John Erskine Got Surgery, Will Be Out of Action for a While

john-erskine

Photo: Greg Fiume

John Erskine suited up 37 times for the Caps last season. Rumor has it he was playing through injury for most of them. Erskine had already lost his spot in the starting six this season before suffering an upper-body injury during a recent practice.

It was a “little bit of an older injury that sort of got irritated so we left him [in DC], had it looked at right now,” Barry Trotz said to The Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt on Tuesday. “[It] could get aggravated more as he keeps going, if he doesn’t take care of it now. [Trainer Greg Smith] said we’ll take a look at it.”

Now, the Caps tell us Erskine underwent surgery on Wednesday to repair a disk in his neck.

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Caps at Oilers Pregame: Hi Hendy! Hi Boyd!

So begins the Capitals’ sojourn through western Canada, home of mostly bad hockey teams. We start with the Edmonton Oilers, a team who are probably a lot better than their record seems. It’ll be a late game– puck drops after 9:30 PM, so make sure you do all your homework first.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 3-0-2 52.92% 103.6 25.0% 90.0%
Edmonton Oilers 1-4-1 50.93% 90.80 17.6% 76.2%

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hendricks gordon

Matt Hendricks and Boyd Gordon, who play on the same line, fml.

The Capitals are off and away on their grand Canadian adventure, and expectations are running high. As Peter noted, the team is looking healthy, playing tighter than they have in a while, and still undefeated in regular play.

Even better, first on our dance card are the Edmonton Oilers, who are not healthy, not playing tight and largely the definition of defeat lately. Plus, they have to spend much of their time in Edmonton, so there’s that, too.

We had a whole schtick worked up about Edmonton the Annoying – perhaps we’ll save it for next time, it was actually funny, which we admit is unusual for us. But sadly, in light of what appears to be a very bad no good day for all Canadians, and even the smart choice to cancel tonight’s scheduled Leafs/Sens match, we just don’t feel like making fun of anyone today, Canadians especially.

So here we give you Oiler insight from baggedmilk”, a cheeky writer up at the OilersNation blog. He’s smart, even if our questions aren’t. Hit him up on Twitter @jsbmbaggedmilk; you can thank us later.

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alex-ovechkin

Photo: Rob Carr

On Wednesday morning, Sportsnet released an interview with Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin. They asked Ovi about lots of interesting things: the music video he co-starred in August, what he remembers from his first NHL goal, and fancy stats!

I’m going to go ahead and share that last part.

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All puppy pics by Amanda Bowen

You’re back already for some more Awesome Index? Good, because I’ve got heaping helping of hella awesome stuff all plated up for you.

Not a lot of Caps hockey since the last time I left you a dope beat to step to, but that doesn’t mean the world of the Capitals was quiet. Indeed, there was all kinds of stuff happening this week, and some if it was– and I hope you’re sitting down for this– awesome.

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orlov-kuznetsov-selfies-puppies

Photo: @kuzy092

I’m not sure how I missed this over the weekend, but I did and I am ashamed. During the Caps Dog Calendar shoot on Friday, several photographers, including our very own Amanda Bowen, captured Caps’ Russians Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov taking a selfie with two of the puppies. That’s great, but I never saw the actual finished product.

Kuznetsov later instagrammed the photo (#latergram), thank goodness, with the accompanying caption “very cute dog…”

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thomas-dipauli

Photo: Rich Images Photography

Washington Capitals 2012 fourth-round pick Thomas DiPauli recorded a career-high four points (one goal, three assists) in Notre Dame’s 5-3 win over Lake Superior State University.

When DiPauli was drafted by the Capitals, he was one of two players selected from Notre Dame, along with senior Austin Wuthrich. DiPauli grew up playing with Connor Carrick around the Chicago area. This year, he appears to be breaking out offensively in the NCAA.

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Photo: Amanda Bowen

Editor’s note: Pat Holden has written about Caps hockey over at Brooks Laichyear since 2012. We’ve asked him to pitch in here at RMNB to smarten us up a bit. Please give Pat a warm welcome. Follow him on Twitter.

During the preseason, Barry Trotz said that he prefers to keep forwards in pairs when shuffling lines. So far, that has proven to be the case. The Caps’ four persistent pairs through the first five games have been Ovechkin-Backstrom, Burakovsky-Johansson, Ward-Chimera, and Kuznetsov-O’Brien.

There’s a lot of noise in the numbers this early in the season, but with that disclaimer, a look at Trotz’s deployment so far shows many things we’d expect and some things we wouldn’t. But the biggest story is that the Caps fourth line is struggling, and Barry Trotz clearly doesn’t trust them.

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