joe-b-birthday-cake

During Friday’s first intermission, Craig Laughlin and the rest of the Comcast Sportsnet crew presented Joe Beninati with a birthday cake. In typical Locker form, however, the cake from Clyde’s had been destroyed before arriving in front of Beninati, who is celebrating his 49th birthday.

“We had a little accident, everybody,” Laughlin said laughing. “You know what my mom says? ‘It’s always the thought that counts.'”

Laughlin tipped the cake over to the camera.

“I can read it,” Laughlin continued. “It says ‘Happy Birthday.’ There was ‘Joe B’ below that, but… this is sort of what happens to you [in your life], right?”

“That’s my story in a nutshell,” Beninati deadpanned.

Later, Laughlin struck a match and lit a candle on the cake. As he blew out the match, the candle on the cake sitting in his lap was blown out.

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ribeiro-ovechkin

Photo: Phoenix Coyotes

George McPhee let Mike Ribeiro walk after a one season with the Capitals. Based mostly on his power-play work, Ribeiro signed a lucrative deal with the Coyotes. He was promptly bought out for poor on-ice performance and poorer off-ice behavior.

Now, on a reclamation deal with the Nashville Predators, Ribeiro is doing pretty darn well.

None of that has anything to do with this startlingly antagonistic interview Ribeiro granted to Canadian francophone newspaper La Presse. Speaking with Mathias Brunet, Ribeiro shared some Milbury-esque and McGuirean opinions about his former team.

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Caps vs Devils Pregame: Top-Line Beagle At It Again

schneider

With three wins in the rear view, the Capitals prepare to host the New Jersey Devils tonight at 7 PM. If you’ve got any anxiety about this game, let me put you at ease: Jay Beagle’s got this.

CSN-DC. Holtby vs Schneider. Take Burra to #thebank.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 7-5-3 52.83% 99.41 28.0% 78.8%
New Jersey Devils 7-7-2 49.55% 101.42 20.4% 66.7%

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ovi-backchecking

Ovi backchecking? You better believe it. (Photo: Luis M. Alvarez)

Jen Lute Costello of Puck Daddy recently wrote a nifty post about shot suppression. I’m paraphrasing her, but the basic idea is that there’s more to being a great possession team than simply having more shot attempts than the other team. While having more shot attempts than your opponent is the essential ingredient, it is optimal to also limit the number of overall shot attempts or “events” (the combined number of shot attempts between two teams in a game). Again, my paraphrasing does not do Jen’s great work justice, so I recommend reading her work.

The Capitals are a much better shot-possession team this season compared to last. But our optimism shouldn’t stop there. The Capitals aren’t just owning a higher percentage of overall shot attempts, they are also allowing fewer overall opponent shot attempts, so they’re owning the puck more AND better suppressing shot attempts against.

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To All the Caps I’ve Loved Before

goodbye

There’s really no need to read this piece. Your life will be no better for having read what’s below. Your life might actually get worse. You should probably stop right now.

(Last chance.)

So the Caps have freed some players over the last few years, and it feels like all of them have turned into beautiful hockey butterflies. The team had good reasons to trade or release some guys; others… not so much. In this still very young season, those hockey butterflies are playing so good it’s like they’re trying to make you jealous. Well, it’s not going to work, hockey butterflies.

Okay, yeah, it is.

I’m gonna take a peek around the league, in a totally non-Facebook-stalker-y way, just to see how certain ex-Caps forwards are doing in their new homes. Pretty freaking well, it turns out. Starting with prospect-bust-turned-Calder-standout Filip Forsberg, lemme run down who has moved on and how they’re doing.

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WOO NICKY WOO!

Epix, that new, weird television channel the NHL is forcing us to watch, has released a teaser trailer for its four-part Road To The Winter Classic series. The footage is like 75 percent players pumping iron, but hey, whatever, NHL. It’s something. I’m excited.

I went ahead and GIF’d literally every clip of the Caps in it. There’s something comforting and hypnotic about watching infinite weightlifting and fist-pumping.

If you sign up for Epix now, you’ll be able to watch the series. You should probably do it right now (and give the Epix people the marketing material they need to be in more homes). The series starts Tuesday, December 16th at 10 PM.

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perledin

Just chilling.

This is stupid, but I’m compelled to report it.

During an SHL game between Lulea and HV71, Lulea veteran forward Per Ledin (remember him, Colorado readers?) drank out of a goalie’s water bottle in the most Swedish move ever.

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Finding Roles for the Caps’ Misfits

Evgeny Kuznetsov is among the players for whom Barry Trotz has struggled to find a consistent spot in the line-up. (Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty)

To break out of their slump, the Capitals needed offensive contribution from their second line. Marcus Johansson and Andre Burakovsky scored four points each in the last three games, all Caps wins. Before that, when the Capitals struggled to get points, their third line featuring Joel Ward and Jason Chimera shone. Right now, the Caps have an eight-plus goal-scorer on each of their top three lines in Alex Ovechkin, Johansson, and Ward.

Coach Barry Trotz has found three successful pairs so far: Ovechkin-Backstrom, Johansson-Brouwer, Chimera-Ward. Andre Burakovsky seems to have secured second-line center position for now, which leaves two main vacancies in top nine: top-line right wing and third-line center.

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No, Alex Ovechkin is Not Going to the KHL, C’mon Dude

Like the changing of the seasons and the turning of the tide, you can depend on rumors of Alex Ovechkin returning to the KHL to pop up on a regular basis. You can set your watch to it, if you want your watch to be really unreliable.

On Thursday afternoon, we got our latest dose of Ovi-back-home panic, as quoted by Slava Malamud.

The full text of the interview isn’t quite so inflammatory.

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ugly-ovechkin-christmas-sweater

For decades, the ugly Christmas sweater has been a fashion faux pas, an ugly, handstiched gift from grandma that you felt obligated to wear on the one day out of the year you actually see her. The colors are often a garish red and green, featuring designs of reindeer, snowmen, holly, and a waving Santa sewn on it. It looks terrible. You look terrible.

The NHL is attempting to out-ugly nana this year by selling their own version of the ugly Christmas sweater. They are so hideous that they are kind of beautiful. You must own one. There is a design for most NHL teams. Three players are immortalized in wool: Jonathan Quick, Patrick Kane, and our own Alex Ovechkin.

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