Last season, it took Matt Hendricks 30 games to score his first goal of the season. This year, it took The Paralyzer two.
In the first period of the Washington Capitals home opener, Hendricks — slow to leave the ice on a shift change — joined first-liners Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin in the Jets offensive zone. As Ovechkin passed to Backstrom at the top of the circles, Nicky then immediately sent a pass to Hendy camped out in the crease. Hendricks, unable to get his stick on the puck, did the next best thing: he deflected the biscuit towards the net with his skate blade. The puck then careened into the air, went off of the shaft of Hendy’s stick, and into the net. Legal goal!
The Washington elite and tourists turned out in droves on Monday, filling the nation’s capital for the second inauguration of Barack Obama. Revelers packed the mall and filled (most) of the streets along the parade route. The crowd downtown reached around 800,000 by the time people finally got off their Metro trains, down from the estimated 1.5 million people four years ago. Members of the Washington Capitals were no exception. General Manager George McPhee — a dual citizen of the United States and Canada — scored a spot at the Canadian Embassy, a prime viewing area near the intersection of Constitution and Pennsylvania. From my view next door at the Newseum, the scene looked festive with our friends from the North putting up a large “Canada salutes Barack Obama” banner and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police patrolling their sovereign land.
McPhee wasn’t the only Cap in attendance. Matt Hendricks, an American, posted a picture of Canadians Karl Alzner and Jeff Schultz stuck on MetroRail with approximately 348,236 other people on their way downtown to view the celebrations.
The parade wasn’t much to write home about. Sadly, there were no massive inflatable Muppets. There were, however, a bunch of high school marching bands and a 40 minute delay. And then another couple thousand high school marching bands. But that’s neither here nor there. This was a day to come to together and freeze as one.
On Monday, the second day of Caps training camp, Hendricks debuted a new wrinkle. As the wagon commits to a backhand shot, which many goaltenders would expect, Hendy dekes back to his forehand while in the crease.
Michal Neuvirth, who was prepared for the move, couldn’t stop it. He was so faked out he knocked the net off its moorings.
Miss the media? “Not really,” says Ovechkin. (Photo credit: @SWhyno)
This morning, a bunch of Washington Capitals players jumped back on the ice for an informal practice. Those who skated include Alex Ovechkin, Braden Holtby, Mike Green, Mike Ribeiro, John Carlson, Michal Neuvirth, Matt Hendricks, Jason Chimera, Jay Beagle, Jack Hillen, and John Erskine.
At 11am, Caps general manager George McPhee then spoke to the press for the first time since dinosaurs roamed the earth. GMGM revealed that injured defenseman Dmitry Orlov is “improving” but questionable for opening night (but you already knew that), and side-stepped questions on Nicklas Backstrom’s health, acknowledging that the team can’t examine him until a new CBA is ratified. Hershey Bears defense prospect Cameron Schilling will also be given a shot to make the team out of training camp. McPhee’s full comments are below.
But temper that confidence. On Sunday, NHL players including Zach Parise, new Caps defenseman Jack Hillen, and Hendricks, took the ice for a charity game benefiting Defending the Blue Line. The game brought 3,000 hockey-starved fans out to the University of Minnesota and raised an estimated $50,000 for the children of military parents. It was great, until Hendricks’ shootout attempt at the end of the game.
This was the Matt Hendricks’ year. This was the year that he broke out of his small, specific role and became a real contributor. This was the year that he made NHL goalies and women everywhere swoon with his dazzling shootout moves. This was the year that the most significant story about him was not centered around a ghastly eye injury.
We try to read lips, but it’s not easy to know what our Capitals are saying. Not unless a HBO crew is following them, or they’re within earshot of Pierre McGuire.
Luckily, Karl Alzner, John Carlson, Mike Knuble, and Matt Hendricks got mic’d up for the second round of the playoffs. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the Rangers vs. Caps. Tears and swear words not included.
There were a few common themes to the Capitals’ last postseason interviews, before they went their separate ways for summer. The first question posed was always about Dale Hunter, who has made the decision to return to the London Knights franchise in Ontario rather than stay on to coach the Caps. The team expressed universal admiration and gratitude for what he brought to the Capitals in his short tenure, often focusing less on his system than on the character and sense of accountability he was able to instill.
There was clear disappointment at the early ending to the season, but a different tone to the team’s assessment of their year than the year before — many of the Caps mentioned that they thought they were able to go out in a way that they feel better about this year, though of course they’d all still rather be playing hockey.
Read on for the details of Jay Beagle‘s injury, Brooks Laich standing outside Hunter’s window holding a boombox, and Hunter’s odd career model for Alexander Ovechkin.
In a few short hours, the Capitals will face the Rangers in New York City to battle over who will advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. But we shouldn’t worry. Why? Because our team is made up of a bunch of super heroes.