Midway through the third period of Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers, Dmitry Orlov turned the puck over at center ice and started a wild chain of events. The Capitals, in the middle of a shift change, watched helplessly as Oilers’ stars Nail Yakupov and Taylor Hall raced in alone on Braden Holtby.

But the Oilers didn’t score! Or even get a shot off. Hall fumbled Yakupov’s pass and as the Oilers regained possession of the puck, Karl Alzner— playing man-to-man defense against Teddy Purcell — blocked a shot from the point with his shin pads.

The puck squirted to center ice and sprung Alzner, he of 14 career NHL goals, on a semi-breakaway.

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Photos: Amanda Bowen

On Tuesday afternoon, the Capitals celebrated all twelve months of the year with Homeward Trails’ Animal Rescue dogs for the 2015-16 Caps Canine Calendar. Each month had its own silly theme based on a season or holiday, with the players and dogs dressed accordingly.

Here’s a quick preview: Caps roomies Tom Wilson and Michael Latta celebrated Valentine’s Day by putting roses in their mouth for February; Braden Holtby wore a sombrero and poncho for Cinco de Mayo; and Karl Alzner dressed in a skin-tight skeleton costume with his dogs for Halloween in October.

January models Andre Burakovsky and Marcus Johansson had problems. By the time the photographer was ready for them, the puppies they were carrying fell asleep in their arms. Adorable, but improvisation was needed. The New Years theme became “falling asleep before midnight.” After two rounds of throwing balloons, the crew tried popping confetti champagne bottles that startled the two pups awake in the middle of the take. The Swedes handled it well: with many puppy kisses.

After the main sets, the photographer did sessions with the player families that wanted their own set of photos. #SquadGoals.

Prepare yourself for enormous amounts of adorable. We can’t wait to buy this calendar.

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Photo: Amanda Bowen

On Saturday, Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner spoke to the media and predicted big things from a player likely slated for the team’s third defensive pairing.

“It’s just fun to see him handle the puck out there and do some of the things he does,” Alzner said to NHL.com’s Katie Brown. “He’s a very highly skilled player and he can be a game-breaker for us. It’ll be a lot of fun to watch.”

The player Alzner is talking about: Dmitry Orlov.

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Karl Alzner: 2014-15 Season Review


Dear Karl,

You have skated nearly 3,000 minutes with John Carlson in your career up till now. Next season, you’ll play just 45 minutes of even strength ice time with him.

Good luck.

Barry Trotz, October 2014

By the Numbers

82 Games played
19:26 Average time on ice per game
5 Goals
16 Assists
51.6% Shot attempt percentage during 5v5
51.7% Goal percentage during 5v5

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The Apple Watch is a Hot Item in the Caps Locker Room


Wednesday morning, I set off to Kettler Capitals Iceplex on a serious mission. I was on deadline, working on a story on Braden Holtby for The New York Times. I paced around the rink until the locker room opened. When Karl Alzner, Holtby’s longtime teammate, became available, I prepared to pepper him with questions about Holtby’s breakout season, but Karl had other ideas.

“Hey, I gotta ask *you* a question!” Alzner exclaimed, pointing out the baby blue Apple Watch on my wrist. “How did you get that so fast?”

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Photo credit: Chris Gordon

Photo credit: Chris Gordon

Woo! (Photo credit: Alex Brandon)

For the last four seasons, the Capitals had been on a steady decline. During their Bruce Boudreau era runs for Presidents’ Trophy, they were D.C.’s team. For fans since the 70’s and young transplants in suits, Rocking the Red was all the rage.

In 2011, the team started going downhill. Boudreau was fired, with three coaches taking his place since then. Meanwhile, the Nationals got good. The Caps were no longer fashionable. The hockey wasn’t the same either. Instead of exciting run-and-gun matches, the Caps played overly defensive games and then, under Adam Oates, just plain bad ones, missing the playoffs for the first time in seven years. Despite claiming a sellout every night, Verizon Center was littered with empty purple seats.

But with Washington’s comeback victory in game two, the spark was lit. On Thursday, the Phone Booth was red, proud, and loud. The Caps dominated, beating the Islanders 5-1 and taking a 3-2 series lead.

“We love this,” Karl Alzner, who scored Thursday, told me. “The fact that we see everybody getting excited for it and feeling good about our team and about our chance at winning some games, that’s what’s exciting for us.”

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Karl Alzner just scored his second goal of the series. Who is this man?!

The goal was made possible by a great Andre Burakovsky breakout and a great Jay Beagle carry-in. As the puck got loose in the slot, Troy Brouwer shot it at the Islanders net. Brouwer dug the puck out of Jaro Halak’s pads before hitting Alzner, who was streaking to the net.

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It might have felt the same, but it was nothing like 2010 except in the most superficial way: the Caps couldn’t score.

With a possession lead but in a two-goal hole, the Caps grew increasingly desperate in the second. Eventually the shots started getting on net, but none could be that damned Jaro Halak. And then, with a real offensive-zone presence, Mike Green executed a perfect pass to Karl Alzner. With Troy Brouwer’s big ass up front, Alzner hit the back of the net for the second time of his playoff career.

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Photo: Alex Prewitt

After Tuesday’s practice, NHL.com beat writer Katie Brown noticed Karl Alzner and John Carlson wearing new playoff hats. Overlaid on a silhouette of Abe Lincoln (with a hole in its head*) read the text My Man. Naturally, no one really understood the significance of the phrase or what it was doing on a team-prepared hat. Sure, the Abe Lincoln silhouette was a nod to the Caps’ post-victory Honest Abe award. But what about the phrase?

Brown made Alzner spill the beans.

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Photo: Dave Reginek

The Washington Capitals beat one of the best possession teams in the league on Sunday, but not before weathering a last-minute onslaught by the Detroit Red Wings. That onslaught included six shot attempts – five of which were blocked by Washington defenders.

Karl Alzner literally saved the game himself, diving in front of a Riley Sheahan shot with 15.8 seconds remaining. Teemu Pulkkinen’s point shot ricocheted off Matt Niskanen’s skate to a wide-open Sheahan at the left circle. With Holtby facing the other direction, Alzner sacrificed his body – much like Tom Wilson did a few minutes earlier – and blocked the attempt with an awkward double-leg slide.

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