The Washington Capitals’ Scarlet Caps group hosted their annual Hockey ‘N Heels event Thursday evening at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Each rink at KCI was transformed into three stations: broomball, face-off practice, and goaltending lessons. Nate Schmidt and Daniel Winnik handled broomball on the Capitals Rink while Brett Connolly, Craig Laughlin and Craig’s daughter Courtney joined the games on the Arlington Rink. Philipp Grubauer, Mitch Korn, and Brent Johnson showed the Scarlet members the ways of a netminder. Hockey Hall of Famer Rod Langway and a few other volunteers acted as refs to drop the puck for face-offs.
After the on-ice sessions, the fans were treated to three different chats with Chef Robert Wood, Head Coach Barry Trotz (emceed by NBC4’s Amelia Draper), and alumni Johnson, Laughlin, and Langway.
On Tuesday, Washington Capitals goaltender Philipp Grubauer led the Capitals to a nail-biting 6-5 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs after replacing a shaky Braden Holtby in the first period. On Thursday, however, Grubauer never came to mind, as Holtby managed a brilliant shutout against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who were going for an NHL record 17-straight wins in a single season. In fact, Grubauer wasn’t even on the bench most of the game.
“He was fine this morning, and then on his way here, he wasn’t feeling so good,” Caps head coach Barry Trotz said after the game. “We kept him in the back room. He was getting pumped full of fluids and stuff.”
On Tuesday night against the Washington Capitals, the Maple Leafs brought along around 30 dads, brothers, and father-in-laws for a highly-anticipated trip. This season, the Leafs, under second-year head coach Mike Babcock, have a “mandate” to create a more welcoming and supportive environment for their players.
“To have these dads along, I think this is how you treat people right,” Babcock said in an article by Chris Johnston of Sportsnet. “It gives you an opportunity to thank your dad for what he’s done.”
On Saturday morning, as the roads piled up with cars driven by Washingtonians befuddled by winter, the Capitals jumbled their roster, calling up Zach Sanford from the AHL.
Sanford started the season with the Caps, playing 19 games. After only registering one point in NHL, he was sent down to the minors at the end of November. In just six games with the Bears, Sanford scored four goals (including his first professional marker) and had three assists, earning his call up back to the Caps.
“It was good for me,” Sanford said of his time in Hershey, which was his first experience in the AHL after signing with Washington out of college. “I thought I went in with a good mindset. I was going to work as hard as I could and not be pissed off about anything. It turned out well for me.”
The Washington Capitals have lost three straight games. Their offense has been anemic lately. But one aspect of their game has become infamous this season: the once vaunted power play. After being one of the league’s top units since the Bruce Boudreau days, the squad is ranked 22nd in the NHL this season, converting less than 15 percent of the time. In response, Caps fans have incessantly mocked and or panicked about the man-advantage.
But head coach Barry Trotz has a solution: Jay Beagle. The center, 31, has never scored a regular-season power play goal in his nine year NHL career.
A day after his players looked meek in a 3-0 loss to the Islanders, Barry Trotz went viral Friday for the toughness he showed in a game the week before.
Last Saturday, Trotz was struck in the forehead by a deflected puck in the opening minute of the Caps game against the Leafs. Despite being cut open, Trotz — a former hockey player himself — continued coaching, while the bump on his head swelled to the size of a walnut.
When asked about being hit by the puck later, Trotz joked, “What puck?”
Meanwhile, in the sport of soccer, that kind of toughness is not as prevalent.
The start of the Caps/Leafs game was strange. Leafs’ grinding extraordinaire Matt Martin opened the scoring with a breakaway goal. But I want to focus on the opening face off.
As the Leafs gained possession off the draw, the puck deflected off Nikita Soshnikov’s stick and into the Caps bench. The puck struck Caps Head Coach Barry Trotz square in the forehead.
The Columbus Blue Jackets won their fourth straight game Sunday, but not it was not without controversy. Captain Nick Foligno drew a high-sticking penalty from Nicklas Backstrom with 1:34 left in the game. Alexander Wennberg would score the tie-breaking and game-winning goal on the resulting power play with under a minute remaining.
That result would have been easier to stomach for the Capitals if Backstrom’s penalty was a penalty. It wasn’t. Backstrom’s stick never touched Foligno.
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