Despite how desperate the standings look, the Capitals are actually playing darn good hockey right now according to their underlying numbers. Let’s take a look at those together and then have a warm glass of milk.
On January 27, 2013, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Photo credit: Patrick McDermott
Although hockey has been back for over a week now, the lockout seemed longer to the Washington Capitals and their fans. Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres put a definitive end to that. The Caps were poised, aggressive, and — most importantly– victorious for the first time this season.
And oh yeah, Ovi scored.
John Carlson allowed a bad breakaway that became a goal for Tyler Ennis, but Joel Ward occupied the slot a few minutes later to restore the tie. John Erskine scored a sneaky goal from outside to give the Caps their first lead since the season home opener vs. Winnipeg. Then, Alex Ovechkin scored a glorious powerplay goal with a one-timer that went top shelf on Ryan Miller. Marcus Foligno got one back for Buffalo, feeding at Neuvirth’s trough to make it 3-2.
Olie Kolzig is remembered as the greatest goalie in Capitals history. A staple in Washington’s net for over a decade, Kolzig led the team to their only Stanley Cup Finals appearance and became one of the franchise’s most beloved players. These days Kolzig has a different role. In his second year as associate goaltending coach, Kolzig spends his time mentoring the club’s young netminders in both minor leagues. The influence of a veteran has apparently rubbed off on the players– Caps goalie Michal Neuvirthrecently added the German goalie’s likeness to his mask, a gesture Kolzig deeply appreciated.
On Sunday, I spoke on the phone with Olie The Goalie, who was in Hershey scouting the Bears game. As the NHL season approached, Kolzig gave me his thoughts on the Caps goalie duo, the distractions Braden Holtby faced last season, and what he sees next for Alex Ovechkin. He even told me what he thought of Tom Poti‘s return to hockey and what that could mean for the organization.
One side of the mask features images of Neuvirth’s hometown along with a portrait image of Czech goaltending great Jiří Holeček. On the other side there’s an action shot of Olie Kolzig, the franchise’s leader in wins, juxtaposed with the old Capitals dome logo and stars.
The gesture was not lost on Kolzig, now an associate goaltending coach for the Capitals and technically one of Neuvirth’s coaches.
Caps training camp may not be officially underway yet, but almost all the players are now taking part in self-led practices at Kettler Capitals Iceplex (the team can’t hold formal workouts until the CBA terms are finalized). Without coaches leading the drills, these sessions haven’t been particularly riveting. Still, hundreds of fans filed into the rooftop rink to get a glimpse of world-class NHL hockey for the first time in months.
Speaking of world-class NHL hockey, the highlight of the day came when Mike Green got too close to Michal Neuvirth before bulling over the young netminder. Green then got lodged in the net upside down. Man, it’s good to be back.
“I had Lasik eye surgery yesterday so my vision’s a little off,” Green told reporters after the practice. “I didn’t realize he was that close to me. I apologize though.”
Take a look at some pictures of the incident after the jump.
There are three Washington Capitals players that have yet to make an appearance at Kettler Capitals IcePlex this week: goaltender Michal Neuvirth, defenseman Roman Hamrlik, and potential top-six winger Wojtek Wolski. You can now cross Neuvirth off that list. According to The Washington Times’ Stephen Whyno, Neuvy flew to Washington on Wednesday and plans on skating with his Caps teammates on Friday morning. Sorry, Brett Leonhardt. You must now vacate the ice.
Before Neuvy left for America (some time in the last six months), he took in a tennis match with his girlfriend Monika. Thanks to ahaonline.cz, you can see them not-smiling for the camera.
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.
Peter said it best a few weeks ago. RMNB has zero interest in covering the actual lockout. “Financial negotiations (and their public face) are all about posturing, tedium, and equivocation,” he said. “Whereas our principal interest in hockey has always been scoar, moar, and goals.” We have gone to great lengths to cover hockey and try to make things fun as possible while patiently waiting for the NHL to end the madness.
But now that Washington Capitals players are bickering with each other through the media, we feel compelled.