backstrom-carlson

Photo: Alex Brandon

We already told you that Alex Ovechkin took home the Rocket Richard Trophy for the fifth time and Braden Holtby finished fourth in voting for the Vezina Trophy. But there are a few other juicy tidbits from the NHL Awards ceremony that we missed.

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lucca-carlson

Photo: @gnacarlson

The Summer of Caps Babies continued yesterday with the birth of John and Gina Carlson’s son, Lucca. Via RMNB reader Marianna S., Gina posted an adorable photo of the little man on Instagram and reported he arrived June 15 at 12:30 p.m., weighing in at 7 pounds 5 ounces.

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John Carlson: 2014-15 Season Review

For a team based in America’s capital, the Washington Capitals haven’t had a lot of American players in recent years. That changed in 2014-15, when the team’s number-one defense pairing happened to be same one that played together for the American Olympic team in Sochi: Brooks Orpik and the subject of today’s review, John Carlson.

Carly rules, and these colors don’t run. USA! USA! USA!

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eric-fehr-nicknames

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.

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KuznetsovGameSeven

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.

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The Washington Capitals have been almost powerless during the man advantage this series. Thirteen opportunities had come and gone with just one goal to show for it.

Early in Saturday’s brawl at Nassau, the Islanders were well aware of Washington’s power outage. The Isles committed two penalties and killed them with ease.

Then Isles captain John Tavares got busted for slashing and John Carlson finally made his team pay.

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Looking at Shots From the Blue Line

Greg Fiume

Photo: Greg Fiume

One of the biggest differences between the Caps under Barry Trotz and the Caps under Adam Oates is the role of defensemen in offense. In February, Alex Prewitt described that role like this:

Blue-liners in Coach Barry Trotz’s system hold the freedom to pinch inside the offensive zone, collapsing onto pucks along the boards to keep possessions alive, but they also are asked to do their fair share of long-range flinging.

Last week, I looked at how badly the Caps’ forwards other than Alex Ovechkin struggle to generate shot attempts. But with Prewitt’s insight on the role of defenseman in Trotz’s system in mind, here’s a look at shot generation from the Caps defensemen, from a bit of a different angle.

There’s a glossary at the bottom, so be sure to check that out if the chart doesn’t make sense. We’re going to look at what percent of the overall shot attempts by Caps defenders each regular blue liner takes, as well as how effective each defensemen is at getting his individual shot attempts through and getting them on net.

While we use shot attempts as a proxy for meaningful puck possession, this doesn’t mean that all shot attempts are of equal value during game play. Generally, an unblocked shot attempt is preferred to one that is blocked, and a shot on goal is preferred to a shot attempt that goes wide. With that in mind, here’s a look at the six Caps defenders who have a sample size worth looking at.

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evgeny-kuznetsov-nastia

Photo: @kuzy092

On Saturday, while taking part in an autograph signing in Laurel, Troy Brouwer made some news. Talking to the DC Sports Bog’s Ben Sumner, Brouwer revealed that Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s wife Nastia is pregnant.

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So great. (Photo: @annasleong)

Washington Capitals defensemen/bros-in-real-life Karl Alzner and John Carlson signed autographs for Caps fans in Silver Spring Thursday night. The event was held by Sport Chevrolet, that car dealership they did commercials for this season.

In these types of settings, athletes can be asked to sign some silly items. Example: reader Eric presented Alzner with a printed-out Words With Friends screenshot. Eric had pwned Alzner on the mobile game earlier in the year and wanted to immortalize the victory.

Instead of open-hand slapping the fan, which is what I would have done, Alzner obliged. He’s so nice. He’s really, really nice. Nicer than I.

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