On Monday, there was a great deal of confusion about why the Capitals didn’t make any roster moves — after both owner and general manager expressed a desire to buy, many were left wondering why they never did. Luckily, we got an exclusive look at General Manager George McPhee’s Facebook Timeline, and we think it may shed some light on the mysterious events of February 27, the Tradeless Deadline.
It was to the surprise of more or less everyone, then, that the Caps made no roster moves whatsoever. It was announced through a team spokesman around 3:00 that the Caps did not expect to be making any trades, and this was confirmed by General Manager George McPhee at a 5:00 PM press conference where he addressed the events of the day — or lack thereof.
By this time Monday, Capitals general manager George McPhee will have already made whatever moves he has deemed wise for the future of his club. With all the prognostication and educated guessing about trade scenarios going around, I have decided not to add any noise to an already muffled signal.
Instead, we conclude this series with a look at two Capitals players who will loom large on Monday in one way or another. Those players are Mike Knuble and Tomas Vokoun.
At about 11:30 Thursday morning, during a mandatory practice at Kettler, Alex Ovechkin and Dennis Widemangot into a bit of a scuffle. According to WaPo’s Katie Carrera, Wideman slashed Ovechkin during a drill, and the Caps captain wasn’t too happy about it, responding with a slash of his own. There was a brief, heated shoving match between the two players.
Cue internet panic. It’s been a tough week for the Capitals, having three days without games probably wasn’t ideal for them following three straight losses, and all that downtime has turned into an ugly self-feeding cycle of discontent, rumors, and worrying soundbites. It’s clear that winning games would be the badly needed antidote, but they haven’t had a chance to do that, and frustrations have seemingly started to boil over.
Reactions to Ovechkin and Wideman’s tiff were all pretty much along the lines of oh no, not this too, but luckily, the players involved were on hand to explain it.
On February 16, 2012, In News, Opinion, By Peter Hassett
[Ed. note: This is fifth installment of Capitals During Wartime, a series about Washington's struggles before the 2012 trade deadline. Read previous entries about coaching, negativity, road performance, and centers.]
Everyone has the moment when you realize that the Caps are in serious trouble. You know when mine was, because that’s when I started this Capitals During Wartime series. For Ian, it was Monday night, when he finally admitted to me how worried he was. For the rest of the Internet and the broader hockey community, that moment is right now.
This article documents The Week from Hell, a litany of depressing and infuriating stories about your Washington Capitals. Because we need a single, coherent record of what exactly it was like when things couldn’t possibly get any worse.
At the end of All-Star Break, the Washington Capitals sit in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference and 1st in the Southeast Division, but their prospects for the postseason are not secure. The Southeast has two challengers– the Florida Panthers (with whom the Caps are virtually tied) and the Winnipeg Jets. Plus, the Capitals have a tough schedule down the stretch– including some tough games on the road. When Neil Greenberg at the Washington Post looked at the Caps’ remaining schedule, he was not encouraged.
That’s because the road is where the Capitals have had most of their troubles this season. The team’s home record of 18-6-1 is fourth best in the league, but away they are just 8-13-2, a dismal 25th. One spectacularly bad road game in Buffalo on November 26th probably cost Coach Boudreau his job. The power play and penalty kill perform vastly better in Verizon Center than they do when away. With 18 away games remaining, the Capitals will have to do better on the road if they want to make the playoffs.
The article looks at the Caps’ troubles away from D.C. from several angles: possession, shooting, special teams, and Alex Ovechkin. And because it’s interesting, I’m comparing Bruce Boudreau and Dale Hunter too. Uh oh.
[Editors note: over the next month, we'll be looking at the challenges the Capitals face, the trade deadline, and the playoff chase. It's not gonna be fun, but we gotta do this.]
When Nick Backstromtook a blow to the head from Rene Bourque on January 3rd, the Capitals lost the service of their number-one center. Backstrom was on track for a better than 80-point season, which would have been a strong recovery from the slump of ’10-’11. Instead, the team lost the anchor for its top line and its most productive forward.
Without Backstrom, the Capitals have only three strong options for centers: Marcus Johansson, Brooks Laich, Jeff Halpern. Additionally, Mathieu Perreault, Cody Eakin, and Matt Hendricks have done center duty in a pinch. Meanwhile, the Capitals offense has been shut out twice in the last three games and have averaged only 23 shots on goal since mid-December. That’s just not good enough.
Mike Green looks on during Caps practice Tuesday at Kettler. (Photo credit: Margaret McGuire)
Green practicing with his teammates. (Photo credit: @melly2508)
As the Washington Capitals continue to struggle under new coach Dale Hunter, Mike Green has become a beacon of hope for a Caps turnaround. For good reason. As you probably already know, the Capitals are 8-0 — un-frickin’-defeated — when Green has suited up this season.
George McPhee and Mike Knuble pose with the silver stick. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)
With the drop of a six-ounce disc of vulcanized rubber, 39-year-old right wing Mike Knuble became the 269th player in NHL history to play in 1,000 career games. While only a small percentage of players ever reach that milestone, an even tinier amount do it at age 39. Consider, Knuble is the second oldest player to ever reach 1,000 games, trailing only ex-Capital defenseman Grant Ledyard (who was 40).
Kanoobs, a veteran of 16 career NHL seasons, won back-to-back Stanley Cups with Detroit during the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons – his first two years in the league. However, it would take him four more years to finally have a breakout year and establish himself. In 2002-03, after Sergei Samsonov suffered a wrist injury, Knuble was asked to fill the void on the first line alongside Joe Thornton and Glen Murray with Boston. The gritty, two-way forward responded by finishing the year with 30 goals and 59 points. Knuble’s never looked back since.
Entering this season, Mike has recorded eight straight 20-goal seasons. Even more remarkable: Knuble’s scored 221 of his 271 career goals after his 30th birthday. That’s more goals than Steve Yzerman and Wayne Gretzky racketed up during the same playing age. This stat speaks volumes about Knuble’s relentless work-ethic, high hockey IQ, and professionalism. “You spend the first four or five years of your career trying to lock up a spot in the league and try to prove to everybody that you can play,” Knuble explained after Capitals practice Monday. “That’s enough of a battle. Once you get over that hump and you’ve proved you can play, then it’s a question of just being able to play that long and staying healthy.”
Naturally, the Capitals organization went all out to celebrate the assistant captain’s achievement tonight.