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.
The Washington Capitals stunk in the first period of their road game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, but the damage was just one goal against. And then Mike Green went down.
Columbus’ Boone Jenner skated with Mike Green behind the Capitals net. Jenner shoved Green off balance as they crossed the red line and Green crashed awkwardly into the corner boards. That wasn’t so bad, but Jenner came crashing in after him, smearing Green’s head and neck into the glass.
On January 24, 2014, In Game Recap, By Chris Gordon
Ugh. (Photo: Andy Marlin)
Just like Alex Ovechkin, ya boy Peter was out with an injury tonight. Undisclosed for those asking. I’m nursing the flu. We’re sort of like the Caps of Caps blogs right now.
Embarking on five game road trip with their dads in tow, the Caps headed to newly Cory Booker-less Newark for date with the Devils. Allowing the fewest shots per game in the NHL and featuring the blue-hot Cory Schneider, New Jersey didn’t look like great opponent to get Washington’s hapless offense going. They weren’t. Yep, it’s gonna be one of those again.
As usual these days, the game got off to a horrid start. Five minutes in, Dmitry Orlov made another silly mistake, fumbling the puck in the Caps offensive zone. Steven Gionta and Ryan Carter went the other way on the odd-man break. Shockingly, Mike Green did not misplay the 2-on-1. It wasn’t enough. The puck snuck past Michal Neuvirth off the blade of Gionta.
Early in the second, Adam Henrique put the Devs up by two with Orlov in the box for holding. Jaromir Jagr made the play, fabulously skating through the Capitals defense before feeding the puck in front for his second assist of the game. Facing this Capitals offense, it looked like that was all New Jersey needed.
Jason Chimera, however, had other ideas. Midway through the third, he deflected a John Erskine shot from the point for his third goal in seven games. It wasn’t enough though.
The imagery above has been making the rounds on Reddit and Twitter this morning. It’s so glorious that I figured I’d share it with you.
On Tuesday night, as Mikhail Grabovski got the claws out with Zach Smith and an angry Cory Conacher tried to literally separate Eric Fehr’s head from his torso, Erik Karlsson and a late-arriving Mike Green embraced each other at center ice like long-lost bros. Instead of getting involved in the fracas, the two offensive defenseman caught up and enjoyed their front row seats to some hockey carnage. Wouldn’t you?
After the game, the fan base — and the team — seemed to hit the panic button. People on Twitter smashed their keyboards, pointing out Washington’s glaring defensive holes and overreliance on the power play. None of that, however, is anything new. It’s not likely to change before playoff time either.
On Saturday, Adam Oates came up with wacky line combinations in hopes of righting Washington’s four game skid. It didn’t work.
The game got off to an awful start when Rick Nash picked off a silly defensive zone pass from Dmitry Orlovto put New York up just 70 seconds in. Fifteen minutes later, Nash was at it again. A lack of spatial awareness led to two hooking penalties on the Caps. On the ensuing 5-on-3, the former Blue Jacket floated a weak wrister through Phillip Grubauer’s legs. About a minute and a half later, Derek Stepan put the nail in Washington’s coffin with a shot though traffic. Braden Holtby came in, but the game was already over.
Ovechkin tried to give the Caps life with a 5-on-3 bullet early in the second, but Ryan Callahan put Washington back in their place just 86 seconds later. This was never a game anyway. Rangers slam Caps 4-1.
Johansson (red) laughs during the preseason Capitals Alumni Game. (Photo: Chris Gordon)
The Washington Capitals’ defense allows the second most shots per game in the NHL. They’ve put perhaps their best defensive prospect, Dmitry Orlov, through recall-scratch-repeat hell. Now that Orlov is finally playing, he’s paired with a guy who has a similar skill set, Mike Green.
Then there’s the frequent shuffling of the Caps blue line deck. Due to injuries, on-ice struggles, waiver pickups, and call-ups from the minors, Washington has used twelve different defenseman this season. Just about every blue liner in the organization has gotten a shot as part of the 2013-14 Caps D corps.
As we head towards the stretch run, the Caps seemed to have settled on a lineup for now: John Carlson, Karl Alzner, Mike Green, Dmitry Orlov, John Erskine, and Connor Carrick. Though Washington’s defense has been its biggest flaw, its recent improvement may also their best chance at making — and succeeding — in the playoffs.
A few weeks ago, I spoke with assistant coach Calle Johansson, the man who runs the Caps’ blue line, and asked him about some of his decisions, including some of the positives from this season.
With the Caps trailing the Wild 3-2 in the second period, the visitors needed a break. They had given up two goals to Ryan Suter on the power play earlier and it appeared their energy was waning. And then, something weird happened that we’ll *try* to describe here.