If there’s one person who’s excited for this year’s Winter Classic, it’s Alex Ovechkin. The Russian machine went nuts on Instagram this morning, posting a bunch of photos and dizzying video before their 11:30am practice.
Photo credit: Rob Carr
On Saturday night, Nate Schmidt and Andre Burakovsky sat out as the Capitals faced the Devils in Newark. Tom Wilson, the first line right wing, was also benched for most of second period. Barry Trotz’s weapon is ice time, and he uses it.
For Schmidt, it was his first scratch of the season, coming on the heels of excellent play alongside Mike Green throughout the year. The game before, Schmidt had misplayed Blue Jackets forward Michael Chaput, who scored a game-tying goal late in the game.
“Sometimes you have to reset players when they’re not going very well,” Trotz said the benchings. “You have to give them a little jolt.”
Fehr watches the puck go in from his knees.
Mike Green was a hockey Istari all Thursday night, but never more than he was in overtime.
In the first shift after rego, Mike Green piloted yet another controlled entry into the Columbus zone. Green’s fake shot forced Jack Johnson to revert to his initial form– the NHL’s version of Magikarp. Then Green sailed below the goal line, earning enough space to give Eric Fehr a gorgeous layup.
Sometimes I hate writing about individual plays, because some people think it makes the man. It doesn’t. Even when John Scott blows by Brooks Orpik for a goal.
So when I show you this Mike Green turnover, I want you to remember that Green has been the Capitals best defender this season and I’m 90% writing about this because of what happened afterwards.
Tonight at 10 PM, the first episode of EPIX’s Road To The Winter Classic will air online featuring (hopefully) organic, not-at-all-contrived coverage of the team we love (also the Chicago Blackhawks). I admit I’m super excited for all the right reasons (pageviews!). Some old RMNB footage might even make a short cameo on the show.
EPIX has posted exclusive photos, featuring some fantastic portraits of Caps stars.
I have a feeling at least half of you are going to be very excited to continue scrolling. I even included a few GIFs and a video too.
Photo: Amanda Bowen
Last week, Peter offered up some thoughts on Mike Green and his deployment as a “third-pair” defenseman.
Some commenters believe that, and I’m paraphrasing here, Green is a dominant possession player primarily because he plays against weaker competition. But is quality of competition that much of a driving force behind why Green is doing so well at shot-attempt differential? Does Brooks Orpik suffer at the same because of the tougher opponents he faces? If they swapped assignments, would Green would become Orpik in possession and vice versa?
I have doubts.
Last night, TSN Insider’s Trading panel discussed a number of topics, including the Oilers’ shortcomings, Jay Feaster’s Twitter jab, and a potential re-tool in Arizona. They also talked about Caps general manager Brian MacLellan, whose patience with the team is allegedly running thin.
Tommy M gave me a hard time in the comments the other day.
I’d like to point to Green and Schmidt’s fancy stats. Are those two really our best defensemen? Should they be seeing the opposing teams toughest competition as Orpik and Carly are?
Tommy was kind of sticking it to me, which is totally fair, but I think he raises an interesting point. What does it mean for Brooks Orpik to be a first-pair guy and Mike Green to be a third-pair guy? How would they fare if roles were switched?
For background, Schmidt and Green, when healthy, are undoubtedly the Capitals’ third defensive pair. The best way to judge that is ice time, but it’s also reflected in the quality of competition they face. Whatever the measurement, Orpik is tops and Green is bottom. Even compared to defenders across the league, Green and Schmidt are in the bottom third. Green is at the very top of that bottom third, but he’s still down there.
That’s curious. His usage means that Barry Trotz has adjudicated Green to be inferior to as many as four other Caps defenseman, who all get more ice time, but Green’s performance is actually among the best in the league. Maybe Tommy is right and Green’s deployment against weaker competition is making look Green better than he is.
Recently, Iraq and Afghanistan veteran Bobby Hicks returned home to Virginia. After fighting in two major wars, life was supposed to be easy for Hicks and his family of Caps fans. Instead, he was diagnosed with Leukemia and faces an uncertain future. On top of that, his HVAC and water heater gave out (same thing happened to me last year and it’s the worst) just as winter began. The family reached out to the Michael & Son Cares Program.
And that’s where this sad story gets a get a little bit sunnier.
“When the Hick’s family’s story was brought to my attention, I knew we had to help,” said Basim Mansour, proud son and owner of Michael & Son Services. “Here’s a guy who gave so much for his country and asked so little in return; I not only wanted to help them with their home repairs, I wanted to do something really special for Bobby.”
Initially, Mansour wanted to bring Hicks and his family to a Capitals game for a special surprise. Instead, with Hicks unable to leave the hospital due to his intensive treatment, Mansour brought the Capitals to him.
Our team is just like that.
Monday morning, the Washington Capitals released the cover of their new dog calendar and it looks great. Featuring a collage of Caps with cute dog…hey, wait a second.
Yeah, I’m going to need to zoom into the lower right quadrant here.