On January 15, 2014, In Interview, By Chris Gordon
Photo credit: Rob Carr
Washington Capitals head coach Adam Oates has been searching for five-on-five production all season. While Alex Ovechkin has thrived, other members of top six have been less consistent. After the first period on Tuesday, Oates had a new iteration for the first two lines: Eric Fehr-Nicklas Backstrom-Troy Brouwer and Brooks Laich-Mikahil Grabovksi-Alex Ovechkin.
“We haven’t scored a lot of goals the last couple games and he’s looking for a spark,” Laich told me of Oates’s change. “Our line had a couple of good chances.”
After the Washington Capitals’ morning skate at the Xcel Energy Center, several players had a chance to meet Jack Jablonski, the now 18-year-old Minnesotan who was paralyzed after being hit from behind during a high school hockey game.
Instead of becoming a sob story, Jablonski has become an inspirational figure in hockey. Here’s his story, beautifully told by ESPN 360.
Here we go a again: after missing a month with a groin injury before returning Monday night, Brooks Laich is once again out.
“It’s disappointing because George and I met with him that morning and he said he felt 100 percent; contact, conditioning, everything,” head coach Adam Oates told reporters after the morning skate. “I think in his mind he did feel that way.”
“It’s been a long time of almosts,” Oates added.
Laich’s saga has been ongoing since he first injured his groin playing in Switzerland during last year’s lockout. He played in just nine games last season, with his return to the lineup constantly pushed back. It was reported that he had surgery to repair the issue, something Laich insisted wasn’t true. Nevertheless, the problem came back this year. Brooks claimed the injuries were similar, but not the same. But once again, a day-to-day aliment turned into uncertain timeframe. After playing 13:23 against Anaheim, Laich is back on the injured list.
“I’m kind of in a holding pattern,” the 30-year-old Laich said. “That’s really as much as I can divulge right now.”
The Washington Capitals are carrying three goaltenders right now. Why? Not sure. But with Philipp Grubauer earning another start tonight, Braden Holtby decided to take a shift or two on defense during this morning’s practice.
I’m in love with this photo right now. I’d take Holtby over Urbom any day of the week.
The struggles of Troy Brouwer have been a long-running subplot in our weekly stat snapshot series. With just two goals and one assist at 5-on-5, Brouwer’s production has been way below what had been expected for him, and his underlying stats have been among the lowest on the team. Indeed, the numbers have been quite unkind to Troy, and at times they have even endangered our friendship with the Brouwer Rangers.
Love ugly Christmas sweaters and cheesy music videos? This video will make you happy. The Washington Capitals have recorded a music video for Jingle Bells to wish you guys happy holidays. It features Caps captain Alex Ovechkin on the bells, Brooks Laich on the drums, Joel Ward on an inflatable pink saxophone, Troy Brouwer on bass, Aaron Volpatti on the guitar, Nicklas Backstrom on the tambourine, John Erskine on a pre-k piano, Tom Wilson on the ukulele, and– of course– Mike Green rocking the cowbell.
On December 3, 2013, In Game Recap, By Chris Gordon
Photo credit: Rob Carr
The Capitals’ power play, the main factor behind Washington’s early wins, has dropped off. So, too, has their penalty kill. Still, the team is finding ways to win — barely. Though they got four points over the weekend, both games took extra time. Nevertheless, the team’s five-on-five play has been improving. Would it be enough to defeat the new old division rival Canes?
The Caps played well in the first, with Jason Chimera nearly converting early on a scrum in front to give Washington the lead. Carolina, though, struck first. After Eric Staal fed him the puck from behind the net, Hockey Bieber — that would be Jeff Skinner — took a shot from the goal line. Braden Holtby couldn’t make to the near post in time as the puck deflected in off his nether regions.
In the second, things got out of hand. Midway through the frame, lil’ Skinner was at it again with fly ball from the near circle. Less than three minutes later, the Hurricanes pushed the lead to three as Andre Sekera unleashed a blast from the point on the power play that Holtby never saw. Point number three for Skinner. Fifty-three seconds later, it got even uglier when Jiri Tlusty put a nasty backhand top shelf. Ugh.
For the final frame, enter Philip Grubauer. The Caps didn’t show much life in the third, but at least Mike Green got on board for the first time since the Obama administration with a power play marker. Nothing more. Canes thump Caps, 4-1.
On November 27, 2013, In Game Recap, By Chris Gordon
Photo credit: Patrick McDermott
Blame Rachel Cohen for this.
[Note: This recap is Chanukah-themed tonight. Why? Because there's literally no one on the Internet right now.]
Last week, there was only one way to describe the play of the Washington Capitals: shameful. After winning three straight, the Capitals allowed seven unanswered goals at Verizon Center, before showing some life late against Montreal. Saturday’s game, though, was markedly different. The Capitals still lost, but they put 50 shots on goal, Washington’s highest total since 2010. On the first night of Chanukah, the Caps looked to continue that output against the lowly Ottawa Senators. They did — at first.
It started with a sublime play by yelling person-cum-Jewish pun Michael Latta, who skated into the offensive zone, got tripped, and then pole vaulted over a Sens defender. The loose puck went to Eric Fehr, who unleashed a lovely wrist shot to put the Caps on the board. Ottawa tied it up less than a minute and a half later, however, when Bobby Ryan tipped one past Braden Holtby on the man-advantage. However, Marcus Johansson whacked in a loose puck in front on the power play just 38 seconds after the Sens tally, giving the Caps a 2-1 lead. BUT WAIT! A mere 47 seconds later, Brooks Laich backhanded home a loose puck in front. Four goals in under five minutes. Whew!
The second period was all Sens. Chris Philips put them within one with a blast on the power play, before Colin Greening tied the game at three.
In the final frame Mika Zibanejad added another PP tally. Ugh. The game looked hopeless until John Carlson tied it late. Prepare to cry, though, because just over a minute later Zach Smith beat Mike Green and Nate Schmidt to win the ballgame. Ryan added an empty netter. Sad face. Vodka. Sens edge Caps 6-4
On November 25, 2013, In News, Video, By Chris Gordon
Since coming to the Washington Capitals in April, Martin Erat has twice requested a trade: once early this season and again last week. During the same timeframe, Erat scored just one goal. You might expect Caps general manager George McPhee to be disappointed. He gave up an elite prospect in the hopes Erat would fill a vital top-six role. Instead, he ended with a fourth liner-cum-healthy scratch who wants the hell out of Arlington.
McPhee, however, has a different view.
“Things change,” he told reporters at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Tuesday. “No regrets. We did what we had to do then, and we’ll do what we have to do now.”
The GM explained that then when he made the move for Erat in the spring, the injury status of Brooks Laich was uncertain. He didn’t even know whether the forward would be back for the 2013-14 season. The Erat trade, then, wasn’t meant to shore up a long-term hole, but to make a push for the 2013 Stanley Cup.
“You want to give your team the best opportunity possible and we will always do that,” McPhee said of winning the Cup. “You can’t have the guys work their guts out all year and then not help them out at the deadline if there’s something to help them with. So we made that deal.”