Special teams was key to the Washington Capitals’ success last season. The team has long been known for its vaunted power play, but the Caps captured the Presidents’ Trophy in large part due to their brilliant penalty kill, which stopped their opponents 85.2 percent of the time, second only to the Anaheim Ducks.
This year, however, the Caps PK is faltering. They are the fourth-worst unit in the NHL, allowing goals 28.6 percent of the time that their enemy has the man-advantage. Washington has allowed power play goals in four of the five games they’ve played, including a Jimmy Vesey tally Saturday night against the New York Rangers.
“I think it’s just little things here and there we need to work on and continue to get better on,” center Jay Beagle said. “We’re obviously not happy. That’s not good enough.”
The Jay Beagle Goodwill Tour made its way to Verizon Center Tuesday night. Days after Beags gave away and individually autographed two dozen pucks to children at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, the fourth-line center struck again during warmups ahead of the Caps game against Colorado.
Beagle tossed a puck to a tiny Caps fan named London who was holding a sign that read, “I <3 83. Happy Birthday Jay Beagle.” Then, after I assume some prompting by mom, Beags literally stopped what he was doing on the ice and took a picture through the glass.
The Washington Capitals hosted their 2016-17 regular season home opener in style Saturday with a special red carpet event. As cars provided by Lexus dropped players off on F Street, diehard Caps fans lined the entrance, hoping for a picture or an autograph with their favorite athlete.
The event started at 3:30 and was hosted by PA Announcer Wes Johnson, who served as the master of ceremonies. Johnson introduced players as they arrived while preselected fans walked the players down the red carpet. Many Caps, including Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson, Nate Schmidt, and Andre Burakovsky, posed for selfies with fans before going inside Verizon Center.
That afternoon, RMNB had two photographers at the event, myself and the talented Katie Snyder (who you can follow on Instagram and Facebook). Snyder is one of the Redskins’ home-game photographers and graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Snyder also does a lot of freelance work, including family-based portraits.
The Washington Capitals’ season opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins ended close to midnight on Thursday. The game started an hour later than normal because it was nationally televised on NBCSN. The Pens’ Stanley Cup banner raising pushed the game back another 20 minutes and then the game needed extra time to be decided after three-on-three overtime and a shootout. The Caps didn’t fly home until early Friday morning. Barry Trotz cancelled practice for that day.
In early July, NHL Network’s Top Shelf dedicated an entire show counting down the oddest plays of the 2015-16 season. Basically, it turned out to be a season review of the Washington Capitals.
Jay Beagle’s miracle diving stick save was named the oddest play of the year.
Let’s review the Caps plays that made the cut.
Photo: Drew Hallowell
On Thursday, the Capitals gathered at Kettler Capitals Iceplex to discuss another season that ended prematurely. The players were more visibly emotional than in years past at the annual end-of-season confab with reporters, promising Stanley Cups to the fans and articulating their frustrations with plenty of “failures” and “sucks.”
The news, however, came in the form of injuries revealed publicly for the first time. Karl Alzner’s ailment was at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Referred to by Braden Holtby as the team’s most important player, Alzner missed most of the final game with a torn groin. He played just two shifts early in the second period before being pulled from the game.
“I know that the first four games of the series, I was just out there filling a spot, Alzner said. “I was out there and I was not hurting the team I don’t think, but I also wasn’t helping in winning in the game. That’s when you know you can still do things, but once I’m getting beat up the ice trying to chase a guy and not able to at least stay in battles, that’s when you know it’s time.”
He watched the Capitals penalty kill, a unit he normally plays big minutes on, give up two power play goals in 33 seconds after Brooks Orpik took a double minor for high-sticking. Later, Alzner sat helpless on the bench as the Penguins won it in overtime.
Washington Capitals center Jay Beagle played great in Game One of the Second Round against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The fourth liner skated 15 minutes and 17 seconds, topping Washington’s third line in TOI. He and partners Daniel Winnik and Tom Wilson were hard on the forecheck, forcing turnovers and tiring out Pittsburgh’s forwards. Beagle also won 63 percent of his faceoffs, including some key ones against Evgeni Malkin, whom he bested 75 percent of the time.
After the game, Beagle and I exchanged our usual fist bump for a job well done, but no one in the locker room wanted to ask him about about his performance. Instead, Beagle’s adventures with Kris Letang’s stick, which got stuck between his helmet and visor, was the topic du jour for the national media assembled at Verizon Center.
“I definitely knew there was a stick in my visor,” Beagle said. “I just couldn’t believe that it was stuck. I tried to pull it a couple times just so I could continue with the play, but it wouldn’t come out. Then I figured I might as well get to the bench, I’m useless right now. I can’t see a thing.”
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.