ChimeraFall

Photo credit: Alex Brandon

Coming into Wednesday’s game, the Washington Capitals were confident. With a new coach this year, they had turned into a crisp, well-structured team, generally controlling the puck and therefore the play. They finished the season tied for the eighth highest point total in the league.

“In the past we were maybe sort of a rush team,” forward Brooks Laich, a veteran of the light ‘em up Presidents’ Trophy winning Capitals of 2010, said. “I don’t think we’re as high flying, high octane offense as we once were, but I think we’re a lot more difficult to play against this way. It should bode well for a sustained playoff run.”

“We’re gonna be ready,” Laich concluded.

They weren’t.

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mojo-playoff-goal

The Washington Capitals were outgunned and out-hustled in the first period against the New York Islanders. It felt like every dangerous chance came off of an Isles player’s stick. And then, with under a minute to go in the period, good ol’ Canadian Boy Brooks Laich shook things up.

Laich chased Jay Beagle’s seemingly harmless dump-in and won a battle behind the net. Laich’s tenacious forecheck created chaos, then a turnover. Once he got to the puck, Laich threw a beautiful pass to Marcus Johansson, skating hard to the slot. Mojo buried it.

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brooks-laich-tooth2

After a huge penalty kill, Brooks Laich was CSN Washington’s guest for the second intermission interview. Something about Laich just looked a bit off. Did he get a new haircut? Is his beard beardier than usual? I just couldn’t put my finger on it.

Then Dave Nichols of the District Sports Page pointed it out.

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tom-wilson-big-hit-again

Tom Wilson‘s been his normal wrecking ball self tonight. Early in the game, he was ushered to the box along with Mark Fraser after both players committed roughing minors. The resulting 4-on-4 hockey led to a Karl Alzner goal.

Later in the period, Wilson laid out Eric Gelinas in the neutral zone. Gelinas’s airborne body then slammed into Brooks Laich. Ouch. I’m getting whiplash just looking at this.

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laich-goofy-smile

Brooks Laich hadn’t scored since January 7. Since then the $4.5 million a year player had been a healthy scratch and now a fourth liner. That bottom line, though, is filled with rejected top-sixers rather than talentless scrubs — one member of the Sabres organization quipped that it was better than Buffalo’s first line. On Saturday night, that line — Laich, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson — added Washington’s fourth tally of the night, Laich’s first goal in two months.

“I sort of flashed back to the first goal I ever scored in the NHL,” Laich told reporters after the game. “It was in Montreal and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I got back to the bench and Glen Hanlon he says ‘congratulations.’ I was like ‘dude, I can’t stop smiling.’ He was like ‘good, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.’ This one sort of felt like that.”

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tom-wilson-big-hit

Tom Wilson is talented at checking multiple people at the same time. A few weeks ago, he hit the Islanders’ Travis Hamonic and knocked over teammate Jason Chimera too. Tonight, he teamed up with Brooks Laich to wallop Matt Dumba. As per tradition, Laich fell over.

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brooks-laich-julianne-hough

Photo: @JulianneHough

Brooks Laich and Julianne Hough have been dating for a little over a year, and it seems to be going well despite it being a long-distance relationship– with Hough in Los Angeles and Laich in northern Virginia. Opposite coasts!

On Saturday, the couple, which I will refer to as Broolianne for the rest of this post, got to spend time together during Valentine’s Day– just because the NHL’s schedule-maker was kind to them.

During the day, Laich spent time at Hough’s home, and Broolianne took some lovely pictures for social media.

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Brooks Laich Hits PK Subban in the Junk (GIF)

subban-groin-ouch

During a first-period power play, Brooks Laich battled with PK Subban for position in front of the Habs net. These types of little skirmishes happen all the time in hockey, but I’m writing today because Laich’s confrontation with Subban got particularly gruesome.

At one point, to clear Laich from the crease, Subban punched the Capital in the chest and knocked him over. Later, Laich got Subban back by pitchforking him in a sensitive spot. As Subban skated away, Laich performed an unscheduled inspection on Subban’s protective gear. Nutcracker.

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A Healthy Brooks Laich is a Beautiful Thing

laich-hough-winter-classic

Entering this season, Brooks Laich had played in just 60 of the Caps’ 130 games over the previous two seasons. So far in 2014-15, he has suited up for 23 of the Caps’ 38 games, including all of the past 17. This is noteworthy, as Laich had played in 17 or more consecutive games only twice since the start of the 2012-13 season (25 straight from Oct 1, 2013 – Nov 27, 2013 and 21 straight from Jan 2, 2014 – March 5, 2014).

Given how infrequently Laich has been on the ice lately, it’s understandable that some likely forgot, or even doubted, how effective of a player he can be when firing on all cylinders and groins (For the record, such doubts were not cast up in here). But the past 17 games have served as a reminder: A healthy Brooks Laich is a beautiful thing.

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brooks-laich-julianne-hough-dogs

Photo: @BrooksLaich

Capitals forward Brooks Laich had to run an errand in Arlington today. And he had two special helpers for his journey: Julianne Hough’s adorable dogs Harley and Lexi. This photo is notable because it appears the dogs might have helped Brooksie push the pedals and steer the vehicle. And that’s funny because hahaha c’mon, silly, dogs can’t drive cars!

[::Checks calendar:: … “The next Caps game isn’t until Wednesday? Oy vey.”]

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