Photo: Geoff Burke

As Peter pointed out in the recap, Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen hadn’t scored since the first week of the season, a span of 115 days and 47 games. Sunday against the Flyers, Niskanen scored the game-winning goal.

It was random.

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PING! Capitals Hit the Post Twice in Four Seconds (Video)

Photo: Nathan Denette

I’m a big fan of physics and wacky hockey plays, hence I bring you the below video. Last night, in a span of four seconds, the Washington Capitals hit the post twice on consecutive shots.

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Teeny tiny Tom Wilson.

During the second period of Caps-Canes, Joe Beninati wished us Happy Holidays in the best way possible: by presenting photos of the Caps as adorable kids at Christmas.

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Hockey is becoming increasingly less violent. Head shots are punished, fighting is going extinct, and speed and skill are becoming paramount. Nevertheless, there’s still a place for a good open-ice hit, like the one Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen delivered on JT Brown in the third period of Friday’s grand comeback. The Lightning took exception to the hit, which knocked Brown’s helmet off. The testy nature led to a Capitals power power that tied the game, completing the rally.

“That happens a lot now nowadays unfortunately,” Niskanen said of Tampa’s reaction. “Everyone everywhere says they want good clean checks, but then they want you to answer for it. It’s understandable. We do it too. We get riled up if someone gets hit pretty hard. But it’s a hockey game.”

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Photo: Jacquelyn Martin

With the Capitals down 3-0 midway through Friday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Capitals head coach Barry Trotz made a goalie change. He pulled star netminder Braden Holtby, the league’s leader in wins and goals against average, replacing him with backup Philipp Grubauer. Holtby slammed his stick on the bench before ripping off his mask off and kicking it down the tunnel to the locker room. No longer in control, Holtby was too agitated to sit down, watching play unfold with his hands on his hips for several minutes. It was the first time Holtby has been pulled all year.

“We’ve got so used to Braden being so strong for us that we tend to be a little loose sometimes,” Trotz told me Saturday morning. “He’s been erasing our mistakes. I was making a statement: enough’s enough. He’s been our MVP from game one on. Why are we doing this to him?”

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Matt Niskanen’s Game-Changing Hit (GIF)

Matt Niskanen Big Hit

Photo: Geoff Burke

The Washington Capitals had just grabbed some momentum in the third period when TJ Oshie scored on a wrist shot that eluded Ben Bishop. The goal made the game 3-2.

Then Matt Niskanen happened.

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Hockey can be a super random sport sometimes. This is one of those moments.

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They’re Back: Capitals Beat Devils 5-3

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Photo credit: Patrick Smith

Greetings, fans! After five and a half months away, fishing, muddin’, and engagin’, the Washington Capitals returned to Verizon Center to start a new season with nervous anticipation.

The team laid out the red carpet carpet before the game, showcasing the team’s finest knit ties and undercuts. Afterwards, however, there was hockey to play. On ice. For real.

The Capitals got off to a slow start, going almost five minutes without a shot attempt early in the first period. Then Evgeny Kuznetsov hooked somebody. Uh oh. Naturally, Jason Chimera and Justin Williams immediately blew right past the Devils defense for a short-handed tick-tack-toe. Then, just two minutes and 28 seconds later, the unthinkable. Brooks Orpik, who missed all of the preseason with a wrist injury, scored. It was his first as a Capital and it came on a one-timer.

The Caps, though, like to disappear after they score. Maybe they go play with their ferrets. I don’t know. Something dumb probably. Anyway, because the Capitals played with their ferrets the Devils scored twice in under three minutes, first Adam Henrique and then Eric Gelinas. Then nothing happened for 25 minutes.

That was, until, Alex Ovechkin happened. The captain went end to end, blowing past John Moore before flipping a delicious, crisp and refreshing wrist shot top shelf on New Jersey netminder Keith Kinkaid. Marcus Johansson added another. Oh, and then Matt Niskanen got himself an empty netter. But wait, the Devils came back with one of their own. Shower of goals! Caps beat Devils 5-3!

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Matt Niskanen: 2014-15 Season Review

Photo by Amanda Bowen

Fresh off signing a seven-year, $40.25-million deal, Matt Niskanen’s boxcar stats were due for some regression in 2014-15. In 2013-14, he had a career high in PP ice time and PDO, both of which were likely to drop in Washington. Both did and, predictably, his offensive production regressed. Yet, Niskanen’s first year in Washington was solid. But it also left me wanting more.

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Swedish bruisers. (Photo credit: Len Redkoles)

Over the past season, we’ve seen Marcus Johansson go from a talented set-up man into the Caps third leading goal scorer. Andre Burakovsky has gone from an 19-year-old babyfaced rookie into, for a while, the team’s top-line right wing. In the past two weeks, those two have added more facets to their game. In the 2015 playoffs, Johansson and Burakovsky have become physical forces on the ice. But instead of going for needless checks that only put them out of position as so many players do, Marcus and Andre pick their spots, using their bodies to bump opponents off the puck or maintain possession.

“You never want to approach a game looking for hits,” Brooks Orpik, who was third in the league in that stat during the regular season, told me Wednesday. “If you do that you’re gonna be out of position.”

“We can’t try to be a skill team all the time,” he added. “If you are a big team, you have to use that to your advantage.”

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