orpik

The Washington Capitals’ defense was really bad last season. Adam Oates and George McPhee suited up fourteen (!) defensemen over the course of the season and got little success for their effort. Fixing the blue line was priority one in free agency for new GM Brian MacLellan, and he delivered in a big way, bringing ex-Pens Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik to town (as well as their former defensive coach, Todd Reirden).

The new Caps D-corps is definitely improved– but at a great cost. Orpik and Niskanen cost a combined $11.25M per season. Washington now sports the most expensive defense in the league (more than Philly once you factor in Chris Pronger’s sadly never-ending LTIR). With all that– rather pricey– new blood, let’s explore how the Caps might line up in October.

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Trotz MacLellan (11 of 13)

Photos by Chris Gordon

Early Monday, the Washington Capitals announced that they had promoted Ross Mahoney, who has been the Caps’ director of amateur scouting for the past 16 seasons, to the vacant assistant general manager position.

At 1pm, Caps GM Brian MacLellan held a conference call with reporters to talk about Mahoney’s promotion, but the discussion quickly turned to everything else.

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Mike Green: 2013-14 Season Review

Oh boy. Mike Green. Is there any more polarizing figure to Caps fans? Is he too soft for the NHL? Is Muscle Milk any good?

The answer to all three questions is No. I think.

By the Numbers

70 Games played
22.2 Average time on ice per game
9 Goals
29 Assists
51.7% Shot attempt percentage during 5v5
44.8% Goal percentage during 5v5
6.9% On-ice shooting percentage during 5v5
91.4% On-ice saving percentage during 5v5

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obi-speaks

Photo: Chris Gordon

On Monday, the Washington Capitals held Breakdown Day at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. For two hours, Caps players filed out of the locker room and conducted exit interviews with the media. Because of the whole no playoffs thing, there were a lot of long faces.

There’s about three hours of interview video to surf though on Monumental Network. Because I hate myself and care only about you, dear reader, I’ve transcribed all the key quotes. And because this is RMNB, I also pointed out the fashion choices. Sadly, there was no crazy hair this year.

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Off to the Golf Course: Caps Breakdown Day in Photos

Breakdown Day (6 of 12)

NHL plus-minus spokesman and hair model Alex Ovechkin speaks for the final time this year. (Photos by Chris Gordon)

Monday was an odd day at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. We entered the day expecting to Adam Oates and George McPhee shed some light of their respective fates — or at least try to defend their time here.

Instead, we got an awkward stand-off with reporters. Within minutes of a spokesman announcing that McPhee would not be meeting the media, the general manager walked out to an area clearly visible to reporters. He chose to hold court with Connor Carrick in front of the entire Capitals press corps before reiterating that he would not speak today.

McPhee’s job — if he doesn’t leave of his own volition — is now in the hands Caps owner Ted Leonsis, who has never fired a general manager.

There were, however, other things that happened at Kettler on Monday: Jay Beagle got asked what he thought of Jay Beagle centering Alex Ovechkin, Dustin Penner ignored reporters to play with his phone, and Brooks Laich said that he really, really, really believes he’s healthy again.

Below, take a look at some of my photos from the day.

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so-caps

This is so Capitals.

All season long, the Washington Capitals have had recurring momentary lapses in judgement in which they forget how to hockey. That’s why the Caps won’t be making the playoffs for the first time in six years, and now I’ve got a drinking problem.

On Saturday at Nassau Coliseum, Mike Green and Jason Chimera illustrated how to do the worst breakout ever. Instead of establishing possession and exiting the defensive zone, they crashed into each other full speed right in front of their own goal.

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He’s just having fun out there.

1,358 days after being drafted by the Washington Capitals in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Evgeny Kuznetsov has finally recorded his first NHL point. Not one to settle, Kuzya then got a jaw-dropping assist on Tom Wilson‘s third goal of the year and recorded a secondary assist on a Mike Green goal.

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The Risk and Reward of Dmitry Orlov and Mike Green

OrlovGreenFlyers

Photo: Evan Vucci

Thursday night, defense partners Mike Green and Dmitry Orlov were on the ice for two goals against. On Florida’s first goal, Jesse Winchester torched Orlov, blowing past him on the far wall. For the Panthers second goal, the duo left men wide open in front of Braden Holtby before Brad Boyes flipped the puck in.

Sunday afternoon, however, the pair was brilliant — at least for the first 50 minutes. Orlov had the first multi-goal game of his career while Green racked up three assists. It’s usually a zero-sum game with Greenlov: they either win big or lose badly.

Today, though, it was both. With 10 minutes left in game, Orlov went after Brayden Schenn, who had just hit him behind the net. Dima unleashed a brutal board in the corner, receiving a well-deserved five minute major. The Flyers got scored on the ensuing power play. They added two more to stun the Caps in their first game back at home since the Olympic break. Orlov and Green, naturally, were on the ice for the game-tying goal.

“He didn’t change,” head coach Adam Oates said of Orlov’s hit. “He was on the same shift and he went right back after him.”

“You’ve got to suck it up when it’s your turn,” the coach continued. “They hit hard too. They’re big boys too. They’ve got to push, they’re losing. They’ve got to push. We’ve got to be able to handle that.”

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The Florida Panthers had erased two two-goal leads on Monday night, but the Capitals had a chance to finish them off late in the third.

Exiting the penalty box, Mike Green was set on a one-on-zero breakaway. As he neared the paint, Florida goalie Tim Thomas fell– opening up the net for a layup game-winner with deadly casualness.

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The hit that injuried Green. (Photo: Jamie Sabau)

Injuries could sink the Washington Capitals. Just as they started to bounce back from the seven game losing streak, three players have been forced from the lineup.

First, Mikhail Grabovski twisted his ankle when he was hauled down in the crease. There’s no timetable for his return and he isn’t traveling with the team.

Next, Mike Green got hit up high by Boone Jenner in the second period on Thursday. Green’s head was slammed violently into the end boards. He appeared shaken and didn’t return to the game. Green missed Friday’s contest in Detroit.

Finally, Brooks Laich was shut down in the third period on Friday after his groin “was getting a little tight,” according to head coach Adam Oates. That’s bad news for Brooks, who missed almost all of last season with the injury. The forward claimed they had finally found the cause, but after missed practices and now missed game time, that’s clearly not the case.

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