Sunday’s game between the St Louis Blues and Washington Capitals has been surprisingly physical. Big hits punctuated the first period, including one that caused an injury to Shattenkirk, but this dirty boarding by David Backes on Karl Alzner was the worst yet.
It’s pretty simple in its dirtiness. Alzner skated to the puck at the boards. Backes lined up and hit him right in the numbers, smearing Alzner’s face into the glass.
Photo: Chris Gordon
Sergei Fedorov left the Capitals in 2009, leaving a hole in the middle of the second line that the team hasn’t been able to keep filled since. There’s been Brendan Morrison and Eric Belanger and Jason Arnott and Mike Ribeiro, but no player has stuck at 2C for any length of time.
Looking at his options on Friday’s free agency frenzy, general manager George McPhee saw nothing to fill that hole. “We didn’t think it was a great class of players,” McPhee told the press after development camp practice on Monday afternoon. McPhee admitted he had a few discussions, but said that contract term was a frequent deal-breaker. “Salary you can compete with,” McPhee said, “but when people get into term that’s too long, you can ultimately hurt your competitiveness down the road.” That’s certainly in line with owner Ted Leonsis’ edict regarding signing veterans.
And so the club looked inward to fill its abscess at 2C. A nation’s capital turns its lonely eyes to Brooks Laich.
David Backes. (Photo credit: Jamie Sabau)
The Unhappy and Unfunny Edition
So. Anything happen over your holiday weekend?
Oof. Coach Juggles was jiggled out of the Caps hierarchy sometime late last week, so go the reports. But those who wielded the ax only announced it Monday morning. As if on Sunday we didn’t suspect our Regent would be decapitated; or that on Monday, after the quartering, they would all just expect us to blandly melt back into the blah-blah of our desperate little lives.
There’s been plenty of blah online in the last 36 hours, and in general on the Caps bench this season. Fine. But do not number us, your humble PuckBuddys, as among those celebrating the call for Boudreau’s head.
It is the right of every sovereign to decapitate those they wish…or at least was, in Elizabeth’s days. But who are we kidding? Today, it’s the unquestioned right of every sovereign owner of an NHL franchise – your Majesty – to chop off the head of any servant they see fit. Assuming they can buy out their contract.
The Caps need for a center resolved itself a little when Tomas Fleischmann signed a one-year, $2.6 million contract a day before his arbitration hearing on July 27th. Couple that with George McPhee stating that he was prepared to go into the season with the team they have, and that makes it clear the Caps will look within the organization to fill their need for a much-needed pivot in the long term.
One of those options, 2009 first rounder Marcus Johansson, appears to need more time to adjust to the North American game, while 2010 first round pick Evgeny Kuznetsov needs another Russian spy swap to play out his 2-year KHL contract. That leaves “undersized, but feisty” Mathieu Perreault – who has had a lot of success at the AHL level with the defending Calder Cup Champions Hershey Bears.
Our question is: Will Matty P’s success in the AHL translate enough to sustain him at the NHL level?
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