Evgeny Kuznetsov takes off his pads after Sunday’s game. (Photos by Chris Gordon)
By tomorrow morning, big changes may have already struck the Washington Capitals. After the Caps’ final game, a 1-0 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the players were somber, but not angry. They’ve been dealing with postmortem questions since Thursday. Four days later, those questions haven’t got any easier to answer, even if the team’s flaws are clear.
I brought my camera into the locker room as the players took off their skates for the final time this year and faced probing reporters Sunday evening. They’ll have to face the latter again tomorrow morning.
The Caps are bad at defense and give up a lot of odd-man breaks. Even when they win, Washington can’t hide that flaw. One aspect of that is particularly troubling: the amount of rushes they allow on their own power play.
The Capitals man-advantage has kept them afloat all year, generating about a third of their offense. However, against the Stars their PP could barely get going. Dallas had two breakaways on Washington’s opening power play, which was quickly negated by a John Carlson slash.
“Usually odd-man rushes are our breakdowns, not necessarily great plays by them,” Carlson said after the game. “We can’t let that happen. We’re too good of players.”
Early in the first period, as CSN+ came back from commercial, the end-zone camera zoomed in on Washington Capitals defenseman/dudebro John Carlson chatting with a referee. As Carly skated away for the face-off, he did some open-mouth breathing and we noticed something curious.
Midway through the second period of the Washington Capitals game against the Anaheim Ducks, Caps defenseman John Carlson had an oopsy. As Captain America attempted to clear down the ice, he nailed Eric Fehr right in the side of the head with the puck.
Wednesday night, the Washington Capitals held their fourth annual Casino Night at the Pentagon City Sheraton. Fans had the opportunity blow fake money gambling with their favorite players, as well as dishing out real money on a live auction featuring big-ticket experiences, a silent auction on equipment and memorabilia, and a raffle. The money made from Casino Night will benefit the Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation. The team has raised nearly $1 million on past Casino Nights, and the live auction this year took in over $40,000.
“We did a got of research on craps,” Karl Alzner, who was there with his wife Mandy as well as her mom and grandparents, told me. “The correct throw and the technique and all that.”
“Even though it’s play money it’s still a lot of fun,” Alzner added. “We get to dress up.”
When I talked to Tom Wilson about the night, he had one main takeaway.
“Ovi’s pretty risky,” Wilson said.
Below, take a look at some of my photos from the night.
“Canada all the way,” Brooks Laich told me then. “Canada’s going to lay a beat down.”
That’s why this morning, I was not surprised to see that some of John Carlson‘s teammates messed with his locker ahead of the Team USA/Canada game today. Above Carlson’s gear, there was a piece of tape that read “GO CANADA” with a maple leaf drawn to the side.
That’s great, but the story doesn’t end there.
Defenseman Connor Carrick, who recently represented the U.S. in the World Junior Championships, noticed what was going on, ripped the tape off, and threw it in the trash.
Yesterday, after the United States beat Team Russia in the shootout 3-2, there was a handshake line — which let’s all agree is one of the best traditions in hockey. During the Sochi Olympics, opposing players have high-fived each other at the conclusion of every preliminary round game, an act normally reserved for elimination.
Because of this, we get to see what I’m going to ahead now and declare the second best Caps related photo of the Olympics (Nicky and Mojo biking together will always be first). Here, wonderfully captured by the IIHF’s Jeff Vinnick, John Carlson and Alex Ovechkin shake hands after the game. They look amused.
“I thought to get our feet underneath us, especially those young guys on defense, I thought they played large,” Blysma said to NBC. “We have Paul Martin and [Ryan] Suter back there, but Cam Fowler and John Carlson in particular, and Ryan McDonagh, played well on the back side.”
He also said it was “fitting” that Carlson scored the first goal.