Jack Hillen‘s knee was pinned between the boards and Calgary’s Lance Bouma as Bouma out all his weight into the hit. Just eight minutes into Thursday’s home opener, Hillen was hurt and needed assistance to leave the ice, unable to put any weight on his leg.
Jack Hillen and Steve Oleksy are frontrunners for defensive spots on the Caps opening night roster. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
With days to go before the start of the regular season, a few questions regarding the Washington Capitals’ opening day roster remain unanswered. First among them is this: who will be the Caps bottom-pairing D-men?
[Editor's Note: Two years ago, we debuted a t-shirt parodying the Pittsburgh Penguins. Rachel Cohen did the illustration and Ian Oland turned it into a shirt. It has become one of our top sellers and even appeared on an episode of CRL. At the Caps Convention on Saturday, reader Zack S. endeavored to get his shirt signed by the entire Washington Capitals team. Zack was kind enough to summarize the players' reactions for us. If you want your own shirt, you can buy it here in our t-shirt store.]
My dad and I were given VIP tickets the night before the convention by a friend who worked for Verizon. I was running around trying to find something to have the players sign and I thought how funny it would be if we got the players to sign a Deadguins shirt.
If you have never seen the VIP room at Caps Convention, it’s just a bunch of tables with some sandwiches and drinks put out, and most of the players come by to eat lunch or just hang out there between appearances downstairs. It’s a really cool setup because some of the guys will actually sit down and talk to you.
Most of the players were confused at first when I asked them to sign the shirt, thinking that I was asking them to sign actual Pittsburgh Penguins regalia, but most of them laughed once I told them what it was.
Reactions ranged from, “HELL YES!” by Jason Chimera to Peter Bondra shaking his head and saying, “Aw, come on.”
On September 17, 2013, In Photos, Video, By Fedor Fedin
Credit: Washington Capitals
Jack Hillen scored the Capitals’ first goal of the preseason during the Kraft Hockeyville game in Belleville, Ontario on Saturday night. Or so we thought. Per Mike Vogel, Australian Nathan Walker has been changed to the official goal scorer. Or at least he should’ve been.
“I think it did,” Walker’s linemate Troy Brouwer told Vogel when asked if he thinks Walker deflected Hillen’s shot. “I went over and told the ref. I know there aren’t a whole lot of cameras in that little rink to straighten it out. They said they changed it, but they didn’t announce it. Those things are very important in preseason. In the regular season guys don’t care as much. But in the preseason, it could be the difference between making the team and not making the team. Hopefully he got credit, or hopefully who needs to know knows that he got a touch on it.”
Nice to Brouwer to speak up for a younger guy like that.
A good impression in the preseason is crucial to Walker’s chances of getting a contract. As the only player in camp not affiliated with the Caps or Bears, Walker has to distinguish himself and find his place in the organization soon. And since scoring goals is a still a going concern in hockey, there’s no better way to build a resume than putting the puck in the net. Walker did exactly that.
The Capitals are stocked with three excellent defenders in John Carlson, Karl Alzner, and Mike Green. Each brings something to the veritable table: Carlson has an offensive upside, Mike Green is a power play maestro, and the stay-at-home Karl Alzner is threatening to crack a 2.5% shooting percentage any day now.
You can pair those three any way you want, but it is still unclear who else among the other Caps D-men is up to the job of playing in the top four. Here’s a lovely chart from Greg Sinclair that illustrate’s how Caps D were used and how they performed last season:
Game three of the quarterfinal series between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers was an opportunity for a statement. The Capitals could have played just as they had last week and put NYR in a headlock. That didn’t happen. Instead, the Capitals got drawn into a quagmire on rocky ice– a penalty-punctuated, back-and-forth battle that they could not win despite dominating the even-strength game.
Rangers beat Capitals 4-3. Capitals still lead the series 2-1.
Thursday night against the Hurricanes, the Washington Capitals continued their march up the Eastern Conference standings with some Ovi scoring and Brouwer yelling (what else is new) as they defeated the Carolina Hurricanes. Tonight, they looked to extend their six-game winning streak against another flailing Southeast Division team from more humid parts, the Tampa Bay Lightning. They did. It was fun ’cause the Caps scored a lot of goals, until Tampa did that too.
It started with a Brouwitzer, then a Hillen blast (just kidding), and then some Russian dude with a missing tooth. In the second it was JASON FREAKING CHIMERA, Panik for Tampa, Panik puns for people on Twitter, and a Fehr tap in. The third, as usual, was where the Caps screwed things up, with two St. Louis goals, another for Panik, and one for Purcell. However…
OVERTIME = GAME OVER GREEN.
In the end, there were wings for the people in the stands and two points for the people on the ice. Caps edge Bolts 6-5 (OT).
The Washington Capitals have had it too good for too long. After filling their greedy maws at the trough of the Southeast for so long, they traipsed up to French Canadia to lay a beating upon the beast of the Northeast, the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs, sporting one of the best power plays and possession numbers in the league, were a worthy foe, but the Caps had Ovi. And that’s all you really need these days. Just a big plate of Ovi and wash it down with some Backstrom. Put some greasy Fehr in there if you want, but Ovi is the main dish.
At 7:30 PM, Jack Hillen was stepping onto the ice at an arena just outside Miami. He had chatted with his wife Caitlin, nine months pregnant with their second child, four hours earlier. She was doing well as the couple prepared for the birth of their second child, due on April 17. It was a pedestrian game for the 27-year-old defensemen, playing just under 17 minutes. He was on the ice for one goal in the Washington’s 4-3 win over the Panthers. Outside the visitor’s locker room at BB&T Center, though, Hillen got some news.
“Congratulations, you had a son,” Team Services Manager Ian Anderson told him.
“Oh, you mean she’s in labor?” Hillen responded.
“No, you had a son,” Anderson said.
“That came quickly,” replied Hillen.
“I didn’t know,” Hillen said Sunday night as he stood in front of Alex Ovechkin’s locker at Verizon Center. “I didn’t know.
“What can I say?” he continued. “Everything was fine. I had no idea. It was just a normal day.”