The last time the Washington Capitals lost two straight games in regulation was March 13, 2015. Curtis Glencross led the way for the Capitals with a first period goal in the team’s 4-2 defeat to the Dallas Stars.
Nineteen months later, the Capitals crashed back to earth after a season of tremendous success. On Wednesday night, the Caps fell 4-1 in Edmonton to Oilers after losing their previous matchup against New York 4-2. The team has now won three of its six games.
Last year, the Capitals had one of the best regular-season performances of all time, capturing the Presidents’ Trophy. Despite bringing back a nearly identical roster, the 2016-17 campaign has gotten off to a choppy start.
“We got to perform better,” defensemen Matt Niskanen said after Wednesday’s loss. “Guys need to do their jobs. It’s a little uncomfortable here tonight after the game.”
For years, the Edmonton Oilers were in the cellar of the standings, raking in high draft picks like fall leaves. Last offseason, the Oilers rebuilt their rebuild, trading away number one selections Taylor Hall and Nail Yakupov while signing Milan Lucic to a seven-year contract. Connor McDavid, a generational talent with just 45 games of NHL experience, was given the C.
With the new captain, the youngest in NHL history, and a half billion dollar new arena, the Oilers have now won five of their first six games in the 2016-17 season, holding the top spot in the Western Conference and placing second in the NHL.
“It’ll interesting to see how they do this year because I think they have all the talent to be a much better team than they have been recently, with McDavid leading the way especially,” Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen said Tuesday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “It’ll be for sure a different Oilers team than it’s been the last couple years.”
The Washington Capitals are hosting their Halloween Party tonight — see all the costumes here — and Alex Ovechkin just posted something ridiculous on his Instagram page. It’s a video of Salem, Massachusetts native Zach Sanford singing, or maybe I should say butchering, the Neil Diamond classic Sweet Caroline.
I must note that Sanford is dressed up as Dog The Bounty Hunter. He also got support with the backing vocals from the other Capitals players.
Sunday night, Capitals players held their annual Halloween Party at the Mari Vanna restaurant in Washington DC. The costumes were fantastic.
Superstar Alex Ovechkin slicked back his hair and put on a prisoner costume. His wife Nastya, who I’m guessing was his captor, dressed up as a police officer, potentially giving us an inside look into who truly wears the pants in that relationship. Meanwhile #CapsNeighbors Tom Wilson and Andre Burakovsky dressed up as stepbrothers and TJ Oshie and his wife Lauren were Mr. and Mrs Smith… with a twist.
Check out all the costumes below.
Opening night is fast approaching and the Washington Capitals’ roster is taking shape, especially on the defensive end where there were no personnel changes during the offseason. However, it appears that a fairly significant change is coming to the back-end pairings. Dmitry Orlov will begin the season paired with John Carlson on the second unit while Nate Schmidt will start the season with Brooks Orpik. Matt Niskanen and Karl Alzer will remain together as the team’s shtudown pair.
Moving Orlov up in the pecking order to play with Carlson suggests that the the Caps are comfortable placing a greater deal of trust in him. Trust in a defenseman means putting him on the ice for big minutes and game-breaking situations, and believing that the good will outweigh the bad in both zones.
Let’s take a look at which of last year’s defensive pairs were the most utilized and trusted in terms of deployments, and how much that might have to change with Orlov no longer on the third pair.
Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen got in a rare fight Friday night and it got bloody.
In the second period, teammate Taylor Chorney was injured on a clean hit from Phillip Di Giuseppe. After Di Giuseppe passed on a fight with Brad Malone, the Hurricanes forward was forced to engage with an angry Matt Niskanen.
According to Hockey Fights, the third period bout was Niskanen’s ninth of his career.
Over the weekend, we reported on something that felt gross, weird, and terrific all at once. Caps defenseman John Carlson scored on Caps goaltender Braden Holtby during the second of a back-to-back exhibition series between Team Canada and Team USA.
Monday morning, Team USA held their practice at Verizon Center and Matt Niskanen was asked about the awkward goal.
Last week, Barry Trotz said he envisions Dmitry Orlov playing in the Caps’ top four this season, paired with either Matt Niskanen or John Carlson. If Orlov were to be deployed as a top-four defender, it would have a ripple effect on the rest of the defense. For one, Brooks Orpik would likely be playing on the third pairing. It could also mean a reunion of Carlson and Karl Alzner, a pairing we’ve seen much less of since Niskanen and Orpik came to town.
But the part of this possible deployment I’d be most interested in seeing is Orlov paired with Niskanen. Doing this would not only mean more minutes for Orlov, who drove shot attempt differentials better than any other defender on the team last season, but it would mean minutes with a player whose steady defensive style could be a great compliment to Orlov’s high-risk, high-reward style.
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