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.
Jason Chimera is one of the Capitals’ most clutch playoff players, but it’s hard to paint his 2014-15 regular season as anything but a disappointment. With Chimera entering final year of his contract, next season will be an important transition for both Chimmer and the Caps. So what matters more going forward: that rough regular season or the postseason production? (more…)
Last week, Eric Fehr met the media to update them on the injury that has keep him out of the lineup for most of the playoffs. After two minutes of optimism and indirect answers, the scrum was finished. The day’s routine necessity had been completed. As the rest of the media shuffled away from Fehr’s locker, I made an offhand comment that the F-16 was getting ready for flight.
“There are some bad nicknames out there,” he told me. “Of all the nicknames to have, that’s a pretty cool one.”
I asked what he thought of his other nickname, Fehrsie.
“See, that’s the thing: I hate those nicknames,” he said. “Anybody with a last name with a –y on the end would probably be the worst one. Spelling it –ie doesn’t change anything. You need to be creative. As a group we’ve tried to be more creative with guys. We tried to change it up a little bit.”
Inadvertently, I had just stumbled on a massive scoop. Over the next 10 minutes, Fehr revealed the other hidden nicknames of the Capitals locker room. Some you might know– others you don’t.
Photoshop by me
A few days ago, The Washington Post revealed that one of Evgeny Kuznetsov’s nicknames inside the Caps locker room is Harry Potter. Michael Latta and Tom Wilson came up with the nickname, comparing Kuznetsov’s hockey stick to a magic wand.
During the second intermission, Jason Chimera was interviewed by Sportsnet and was asked about the skill set of his young, superstar teammate.
Photo credit: Alex Brandon
The Washington Capitals dominated play in game seven against the New York Islanders through two periods. They were constantly parked in the Isles zone, putting pucks on goaltender Jaroslav Halak with ease. The Islanders could barely muster a whimper, with just six shots on goal as the middle frame wound down. Somehow, though, Washington hadn’t found a way to convert: missed deflections, timely saves, and bad bounces led to a scoreboard that reflected little about what happening on the ice.
Then, with 1:25 left in the second period, Joel Ward broke through, poking Brooks Orpik‘s shot through the legs of Halak. Verizon Center erupted into a shining display of pure human joy. But it was still full of Washington Capitals fans, ready to have their hearts ripped out with final game, final period collapse. And just three minutes and 13 seconds into the closing frame, Frans Nielsen did just that with an innocent-looking wrist shot from the slot that trickled through Braden Holtby’s pads. With that, the game was tied. Though the Caps had dominated play, the game looked like it would end with another bitter, bruising fight, with one bad bounce deciding each team’s fate.
But instead, the game-winner would buck the thuggery the series had shown. With around seven minutes left in the zero-sum game, Evgeny Kuznetsov picked up Jason Chimera‘s pass at the far wall, before cutting right through the heart of the New York zone. The play was magisterial, with Kuznetsov floated past Islanders defenders. Instead of firing the puck off at his first look at the net, Kuznetsov held on to it until he got to the near circle. That’s when Halak went down. Kuznetsov saw an opening.
“I just put puck in the net,” he told reporters after the game.
He’s ready. Are you? (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)
One-by-one, as they stepped off the ice and into the locker room at their Virginia practice facility, mic flags went flying into the faces of members of Washington Capitals. Tonight, the team will play its eighth game seven since the Ovechkin era began. Five of those games have ended with crushed looks on the faces of the boys from Arlington. The questions were obvious.
“The media is the only people that bring up the past,” Jason Chimera scoffed. “It’s history for a reason. We wanna make our own history tonight.”
There was a point on Friday night when the Caps trailed the Islanders 3-1. All hope seemed lost. A 2-0 series deficit was on the horizon.
Then Alex Ovechkin scored. Nicklas Backstrom crashed the party next. And then, finally, Jason Chimera, last game’s goat (who probably should have been scratched tonight), gave the home team their first lead of the series.
4-3. Chimera’s tally would stand as the game winning goal. Series tied.
Photo from NHL.com
John Tavares is one of the best hockey players on the planet. If the New York Islanders hope to take down Alex Ovechkin, the best hockey player on the planet, and the Washington Capitals, Tavares will have to play a leading role. So, quite obviously, one of the Caps primary concerns when game planning is shutting down the Isles superstar center.
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