Photo: Harry How
Brian MacLellan has said the Caps intend to upgrade their third line this offseason. This is part of our series looking at free agents who the Caps may target.
We’re nearing the end of our free agent profiles, and today I present to you the holy grail. On July 1 Kris Versteeg will be a free agent, and he should be the Caps’ number one target. The only thing that could keep the Caps from signing Versteeg is his price tag. Bidding for his services may take it above what the cap-strapped Caps can afford. But, Matt Cane‘s salary predictions say Versteeg will get $2.6 million, which might be within the Caps range, depending on how negotiations look with the RFAs.
Let’s take a look at how awesome Versteeg is and why we’ll all take our shirts off and run around the block if the Caps sign him.
In the game’s final moment, Evgeny Kuznetsov wrecked Carolina Hurricanes’ forward Kris Versteeg at center ice with a legal shoulder check into the boards. (Let’s ignore the fact the referees called a boarding minor on Kuzy. They weren’t on their game tonight.)
Versteeg, probably already pissed that his team was getting outplayed, did not appreciate the hit. He decided to deliver some frontier justice. As Kuznetsov skated over, Versteeg swung his stick at Kuznetsov like he was trying to hit a game-winning homer. Tsk tsk.
In the education industry, they call this a “teachable moment.” Versteeg’s hockey professor was Alex Ovechkin.
On any given night, there’s a fanboy somewhere, watching a hockey game and saying “Well, we shoulda won that, it was just a fluke we didn’t.”
Caps fans have been saying that a lot lately. Weird puck squirts. Dominating play but no points. Mystical karmic forces aligned against Washington until its NFL team changes its name, or some such.
Point is, if you find yourself resorting to the fluke argument too often, chances are pretty solid you’re really not talking about flukes, but something else. Fixing that something else is starting to become an issue now, and seeing as we’re going up against our Winter Classic rivals tonight, this game needs to provide clues as to what, exactly, needs fixing.
Chicago is a dominating team with a corps of dominating players, despite some of their early going this season. I’d like to say something rude about all those young punks like Toews, Kane, Van Riemsdyk (which always makes me think of hipsters with funny little beards), and even some of the elders, but I can’t. They’re just that good.
Chicago itself is another story.
Photo credit: Eliot J. Schechter
The Washington Capitals schlepped down to that bustling metropolis of Sunrise to face the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night. It was classic Caps hockey: dumb penalties, tons of goals, a nominal interest in defense.
Mike Ribeiro found the puck on the weak side to score an early power play goal, but then Tomas Fleischmann banked a shot off John Erskine’s skates to even it up. Shawn Matthias knocked in a go-ahead goal for the Cats from high in the slot. Karl Alzner scored a nasty slapper off the faceoff to knot the score at 2. Let me repeat that: Karl Alzner scored a goal.
Peter Mueller Huberdeau bounced a flubbery puck past Braden Holtby, but then Matt Hendricks got a rebound of his own. Jonathan Huberdeau exploited some bad defense to make it 4-3 Florida. Holtby bobbled a loose puck to give Drew Shore his first NHL goal — after a review from Toronto. Eric Fehr finally made it onto the scoresheet with a tip-in just five minutes before the end of regulation. Alex Ovechkin ripped a tying goal off the faceoff during a late-game power play.
And then Troy Brouwer won it in OT on a breakaway. Cause that’s how this team gets down.
Caps beat Panthers 6-5 (OT).
Ovechkin and Versteeg hug it out.
Alex Ovechkin has been trying some different things this season: right wing, the half wall on the power play, and now… fighting.
Just over a minute into the game, Ovi delivered what seemed to be a clean hit to Kris Versteeg in the corner. The former Blackhawk went down hard on the hit before laying on the ice for a minute with an apparent injury.
The Pregame: “Oh dear.” Oh, d-d-dearie dear me. Gosh and darn it all.
Remember that funny little wiggly piglet from your childhood stories named…um, Piglet? The one who worried about everything x 2? Oh, the one who was really needy? We do. Specifically, we remember that Piglet, for all his kindness, was prone to needless worry.
“SEO!” yell our overlords at RMNB (not really.) (Kinda.) “Optimize key items! Fast and tight! Key words! Search items for hits!”
“Caps Fail!” screech the bloglines. “Disaster!” “Pull The Plug”*
We’re ignoring both.
Kris Versteeg wipes out. (Photo credit: Thearon W. Henderson)
How was your weekend? The Caps won. That was cool. I bet Coach Hunter is psyched. I lost my cell phone. That sucked.
On Monday night, the Capitals hit the road again, leaving a tumultuous three-game home stand behind them. They’ll be suiting up in Sunrise, Florida, which is a ludicrous name for a city. The hosting team? The Florida Capitals.
Ahh, shoot! Florida Panthers. Sorry. But the Florida roster does sport four ex-Caps: Tomas Fleischmann, Matt Bradley, Jose Theodore, and Marco Sturm (who shouldn’t really count). How did so many Caps players end up in Florida? Over the summer, Panthers GM Dale Tallon got his checkbook out and started signing free agents all willy nilly just to reach the salary floor.
And now– somehow– the Panthers are at the top of the Southeast Division. No one saw that coming. This team was assembled from spare parts. We had joked that it was a retirement home. These guys shouldn’t have a cohesive personality, let alone a winning record. Instead, they’re 14-8-4 and they’ve commited the fewest minor penalties in the league. It’s disciplined and effective hockey they’re playing in Sunrise, which is still is a stupid name for a city.
Photo credit: Scott Audette
The Florida Panthers spent their Monday night trouncing the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-4. The Cats used five powerplay goals to fend off a third period rally from their rivals in America’s groin. By now the Panthers are probably already on their way up to Washington.
Here we go. This is the game you’ve been looking forward to. Not the rematch with Tampa, the date with Pittsburgh, or Thursday’s face-off with Jagr. You have been amped for this game: Matt Bradley, Jose Theodore, Tomas Fleischmann– all your exes are coming over for a dinner party and it’s going to be AWKWARD.
#GoodSasha (Photo credit: Paul Bereswill)
The Washington Capitals are in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Now, don’t start panicking. The Caps of this year are different. They play postseason-style defensive hockey. (Well, let’s just forget about the D tonight.) Washington has their swagger back too. They’re just one point off the top spot in the East and are firing on all cylinders as April awaits.
Nicklas Backstrom opened the scoring at 7:52 after his wrist shot from between the circles snuck under Flyer goalie Sergei Bobrovsky’s shoulder. Weak goal. Then with under three minutes left in the first period, ol’ man Mike Knuble chipped in Marcus Johansson’s pass from behind the net to push the Caps lead to multiple goals. Spongebob never saw it. Weak goal.
Under 1:30 into the second stanza, Dennis Wideman fired a shot from the point the found twine after Bobrovsky failed to react in time. Weak goal. New ‘keeper. At 8:05 Kris Versteeg got himself an easter egg. Number 10 in orange and black racked up his 19th of the year after his off-target pass hit Wideman’s skate. With just over 30 seconds left in the frame Claude Giroux inched Philadelphia ever closer, one-timing Andreas Nodl’s perfect pass past Neuvirth. The Czech netminder never even moved on the shot after biting on Nodl’s excellent fake. The Flyers would then tie the game 10:02 in the third period when the Capitals got Jeff Schultz’d. Mr. Nasty’s outlet pass was deflected by Giroux and Nodl slapped it home. Daniel Briere would then score the Flyers’ fourth unanswered tally, saavily tipping a a Kimmo Timonen shot from the point home. 4-3, Fly Guys. Panic!!!1 Luckily for you guys, Swedes are good at hockey. Johansson would tie the game up on a perfect shot from the point with 3:19 left. What does that mean? Overtime.
In the extra period, there would be chances a plenty, but neither team would convert. You know what lies next: The Gimmick.
Ville Leino: goal. Matt Hendricks: fake, fake, fake, fake, fake, fake, fake, leg lift, fake, fake, fake, backhand and GOAL! Giroux: miss. Backstrom: GOAL! Briere: Goal. Up next, The Enigma. GOAL WSH #28 SEMIN, Backhand, Off. Zone, 7 ft. Playoffs, here we come! Caps top Flyers, 5-4 (SO)
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