On December 28, 2015, In Interview, By Chris Gordon
Photo: Nick Wass
Last season, Capitals forward Jason Chimera was at times in open revolt against head coach Barry Trotz. The veteran winger tallied just one goal in his first 18 games. By December, he was a healthy scratch for the first time since 2013. He sat in the press box again later that month, a demeaning moment captured by EPIX’s Road to the Winter Classic crew.
“I think it’s embarrassing as a player when you get sat out,” Chimera said at the time. “I think as a player that’s played a long time, it’s embarrassing.”
After racing to a turnover in the Habs offensive zone, Wilson flung a pass behind his body to a trailing Jay Beagle. Beags skated to a better shooting angle before fling a wrist shot past Habs goaltender Mike Condon. Craig Laughlin called the goal, Jay Beagle’s “best shot of his career.”
At the end of this season, Jason Chimera will be 37. Nevertheless, the bottom-sixer known for his hands of stone is undergoing a revival. On November 11 against Philadelphia, Chimera scored two power play goals, his first game on the man advantage this season. In his nine games on the power play, Chimera has six points.
“Just a fine wine,” Chimera said, comparing himself to another high quality aged product. “Like French Oak or the new stuff, the steel cask maybe.”
For the last few years, when you think of Alex Ovechkin, or even the Capitals, you are drawn to their savage power play. Since Adam Oates took over, it has been at the top of the league, ranked first in last season, second in 2013-14, and first in the lockout-shortened 2012-2013 season. Ovechkin is the heavy artillery. Last season, Alex Ovechkin accounted for 42 percent of the Washington Capitals’ power play goals. From 2012-14 seasons, Ovi was responsible for nearly four tenths of the man advantage tallies. Year after year, he fired shot after shot from the same spot. There was little change in the result: a whole bunch of goals.
This year, however, something has been different. Through 20 games this season, Ovechkin had just one power play marker. The numbers tell a pretty clear story: Ovechkin just isn’t getting as many shots attempts on the man advantage.
But Friday night, Ovechkin was peppering Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilvskiy on Washington’s first power play. His first five shots went wide or were saved. His sixth attempt in under two minutes hit the back of the net, set up by a brilliant pass from Jason Chimera. It marked Ovechkin’s third power play goal of the season.
The Washington Capitals have been playing just like they want against the Tampa Bay Lightning with the singular exception of the score. Despite outshooting the Bolts, the Caps had just a one-goal lead in the closing minutes of the second period. Then, as Braydon Coburn’s delay-of-game penalty was about to expire, Evgeny Kuznetsov slapped a pass right onto Jason Chimera’s stick. Scary good.
The Caps had a lot of zone time, incidentally provided by Kuznetsov’s solid carry-in to the zone, but couldn’t beat Tampa goaltender Vasilevskiy. Alex Ovechkin had left the ice as time was about to expire, which is when Kuznetsov did his thing.
Jason Chimera was the goat against Dallas. On Alex Ovechkin’s special night, the 36-year-old wing turned the puck over right in front of the net. With 8:50 remaining, Jason Spezza scored giving the Dallas Stars a 3-2 win.
The Capitals got off to a slow start, going almost five minutes without a shot attempt early in the first period. Then Evgeny Kuznetsov hooked somebody. Uh oh. Naturally, Jason Chimera and Justin Williams immediately blew right past the Devils defense for a short-handed tick-tack-toe. Then, just two minutes and 28 seconds later, the unthinkable. Brooks Orpik, who missed all of the preseason with a wrist injury, scored. It was his first as a Capital and it came on a one-timer.
The Caps, though, like to disappear after they score. Maybe they go play with their ferrets. I don’t know. Something dumb probably. Anyway, because the Capitals played with their ferrets the Devils scored twice in under three minutes, first Adam Henrique and then Eric Gelinas. Then nothing happened for 25 minutes.
That was, until, Alex Ovechkin happened. The captain went end to end, blowing past John Moore before flipping a delicious, crisp and refreshing wrist shot top shelf on New Jersey netminder Keith Kinkaid. Marcus Johansson added another. Oh, and then Matt Niskanen got himself an empty netter. But wait, the Devils came back with one of their own. Shower of goals! Caps beat Devils 5-3!
Over the last few weeks, most of the Caps roster has filed back into Kettler Capitals Iceplex for informal skates. TJ Oshie arrived on Wednesday, leaving captain Alex Ovechkin as the last remaining player out of town. Ovechkin is missing a lot, as these pre-preseason skates are very serious affairs.