There used to be a guy behind the Caps bench who looked like Ray Liotta. He made wacky decisions that harmed the team, like forcing Braden Holtby to play deep in the net, altering everyone’s sticks, and sometimes being too honest during press conferences.
But if there was one decision that was more bizarre than the rest: pairing Alex Ovechkin— this generation’s greatest goal scorer– with Jay Beagle and AHL journeyman Joey Crabb on the first line.
For more evidence of why it was such an awful decision, I direct you to an Instagram video from Paul Bissonnette.
The Hershey Bears ended their season last night. Martin Erat might have done that as well when he slammed his wrist into the net. As a result, the Capitals have recalled youngling Tom Wilson and former NHL player Joey Crabb from the Hershey Bears.
Are these our 2013 black aces, or will Wilson or Crabb see some play? Will Aaron Volpatti go from waiver wire to playoff hockey in the span of a few months? Will Wojtek Wolski ever play again?
P.S. Ovi for Lindsay.
Photos by Chris Gordon
The past decade has seen the United States involved in two wars — one in Iraq, one in Afghanistan. We’re all aware of them, we’ve seen the headlines. But for most Americans, the country’s battles are an abstraction. It’s something on the news, not part of the stories of other human beings.
Some Americans, though, can’t remove themselves from them — the wars have taken members of their family. Husbands, wives, children, brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers: the all have loved ones who will never come home. This has unfolded thousands of times throughout the past 12 years.
Last week, Ted Leonsis spread his wings by launching Monumental Network, a site to aggregate all the Caps, Wizards, Mystics, and Verizon Center coverage his company produces. They’ve got original reporting and a network of blogs to cover the living heck out of each team.
Earlier this week, Casey Phillips, Monumental’s digital correspondent crowded in on RMNB’s beat with a story that we should have had. After Cosmopolitan Magazine named Mike Green the sexiest player in the NHL, the Monumental crew asked the team who they thought was truly the most handsome guy around.
The answers will amaze you. Or maybe they won’t. I mean, you know they’re gonna say Brooks, right?
Adam Oates talks to Ovi during practice on Saturday. (Photos by Chris Gordon)
Alex Ovechkin has become a one-dimensional player. Once the league’s most creative and premier scorer, Ovi has been stymied by his apparent unwillingness to change — at least so far. His struggles at right wing in the first three games this season demonstrated that much. After just eight periods, the exercise ended. Ovi was back at left wing.
Ovi’s switch has been the story of the season so far for the Caps. But not everybody thinks it should be.
“Are we talking about Ovi again? That’s bulls—t,” forward Troy Brouwer told me when asked about Ovechkin’s play this season.
“It shouldn’t be difficult,” Brouwer said. “He’s a right handed shot, he should be able to play right wing. It should be hard to play your off wing.”
Exclusive RMNB photo.
When the Capitals came out for warm-ups against New Jersey Friday, head coach Adam Oates had a surprise for us. Alex Ovechkin was skating on a line with Jay Beagle and Joey Crabb.
The Great Eight has struggled in the first three games this season, with no goals, 11 shots, and two checks on his own teammates. So Friday night he was back on left wing with Beagle (seven career NHL goals) as the pivot and Crabb (19 career NHL goals) on the right wing. I didn’t expect this trio to remain intact for very long, but despite taking some shifts with different teammates throughout the night, the line stayed together until the end.
Oy. (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)
[Editor’s note: With RMNB’s Peter Hassett out in California for the week, the PuckBuddys recap the latest Caps loss.]
Sometimes, platitudes are the only comfort we have. Like “Third time’s a charm!” Or “All in to win!” Or “Shomer f—-n shabbos!” Yeah, like that.
Be real. We went into this game feeling queasy; like Taco Bell Doritos Volcano Nachos queasy. Walking into Verizon we were already outscored two-to-one in the first two games; an unappealing start. Some pointed fingers at Coach Adam Oates‘ inability to instill discipline. (Those worries may have been answered by Oates’ curious decision to bench Marcus Johansson and Matthieu Perreault, and then re-start Matty.) Some demurred that the team is still learning a new coach and new style, and we’re willing to go some distance here. A few fickle fingers pointed at under-production by Ovi, Holtby, Greenie, Carlson…
Enough. Tonight brought one hard answer: the Capitals aren’t firing.
The first frame saw some testing on both sides of the other’s defense. Good efforts by Green, Backstrom and Ribeiro, and a surprising amount of icing from Montreal. Michal Neuvirth made several great saves (a few too close,) and we were hopeful with Nicky’s late flick to Wojtek Wolski until Ovi spoiled that. The PPs yielded nada, leaving both teams relatively balanced both offensively and defensively (though the Habs lead with hits.)
Second period: oh crap, 5 on 3? Ovi and Brouwer leave the Caps naked, yet Beags and Carlson, while never clearing it out, keep the Caps alive. Then with only :04 in the first PP, Plekanec cracks one in (with Markov on the assist) bumping the Habs up 1-0. Moments later, Andrei Markov (with Pacioretty) snaps one over Neuvy’s shoulder bringing the Canadiens up 2-o. Oxygen slowly leaving Verizon. Can it get worse? Yes. Rene Bourque sails it down the side and snaps it to Brian Gionta, who knocks it past Neuvy, tippling the score at 3-o. You want more? Francis Bouillon, on assist from Josh Gorges, blows one past a clueless Neuvy; Habs go up 4-0, Caps fans register their displeasure.
Third quarter squishes out with pretty much everyone in the wrong spot at the right time. Shots still favoring the Caps, although you’d never know that. Time dribbles by, our RMNB editors suggest a game recap isn’t even worthwhile. We soldier on, as does Matt Hendricks. At least someone’s trying. So is Beags to Chimera to Joey Crabb! Well at least John Carlson’s hair won’t get shutout, even though he’ll get one last penalty.
SCORE: Canadiens 4, Capitals 1
Photo credit: Chris Gordon
Since the Caps last played hockey– sometime during the Medieval Warm Period, they’ve lost a few guys. Alex Semin left via free agency for Carolina, Mike Knuble returned to the exotic beauty of Michigan, Tomas Vokoun made a pit stop in Breezewood before heading up to Pittsburgh, and Dennis Wideman got such a ludicrous and undeserved payday in Calgary that you’d think he had left congress to start lobbying for the MPAA.
You’re gonna see some new faces on Saturday night, so here’s a quick refresher on the additions the Capitals made just before the lockout sucked the last ounce of joy out of the universe.
Photo credit: Bruce Bennett
As the first day of NHL Free Agency wound to a close, it seemed certain that the Caps would let July 1st pass without signing a single player. It would have been only the second time that would have happened since the lockout, but then around 10 PM, a surprise signing finally came: former Toronto Maple Leaf Joey Crabb inked a one year, one-way contract with the Capitals.
Crabb is undoubtedly a depth player, a third or fourth line right winger. But judging by his past performance, he may fill that role splendidly.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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