This season, Alex Ovechkin’s shot has been an unstoppable force of destruction. Ovi has registered 31 goals. His line’s scoring, however, has often been one-sided. Marcus Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom, Ovechkin’s linemates for much of the season, have scored just six even-strength goals. When Ovi’s hitting the net, it’s not a problem. But if last year’s MVP hits some bad luck, as he did over the four games before last night, the line struggles. Ovechkin has just a single assist during five-on-five play.
“It’s not enough,” Oates said when I asked him about that stat. “It shows how much all three guys are important.”
For Thursday’s game against the Hurricanes, Oates switched up his lines, putting Ovechkin with Eric Fehr and Mikhail Grabovski while placing Johansson and Backstrom with Brouwer.
In overtime, unless you’re a really bad hockey team or extremely good at shootous, you play to win the game. A minute and fifteen seconds into overtime, the Washington Capitals tried to do exactly that, making an aggressive play in the Carolina Hurricanes’ offensive zone to try and secure that one extra standings point.
They paid the price for it however, as Jeff Skinner scored his hat-trick game-winning goal on a jailbreak odd-man rush into the Capitals defensive zone.
Every Capital on the ice minus Philipp Grubuaer shares blame on the goal. Let’s take a look at the bad reads and bad decisions. (This is as close as we’ll ever get to a Justin Bourne Systems Analyst post.)
Over the summer, general manager George McPhee and head coach Adam Oates worked together to land arguably the most talented player on the free-agent market, Mikhail Grabovski.
Grabo, who was bought out by the Toronto Maple Leafs because they don’t understand teh corsis, signed a short, cap-friendly deal with Washington: one year for three million dollars. He did so, presumably, to maximize his value as a free agent heading into the 2014-15 season.
We knew all that coming in. Let me repeat: we knew this already. But, like finding a lost puppy in the woods and feeding him, it’s now hard to think of parting company from him. We want to keep Grabo forever and ever and dress him up in cute outfits.
Washington Capitals’ senior writer Mike Vogel broached the whole re-signing thing to Grabovski on Sunday. The Belarusian’s answer was telling.
When the Washington Capitals signed Mikhail Grabovski during the offseason, we knew he would bring tehcorsis. But after watching him play in Caps red, we’ve learned that he brought some sexy breakaway moves with him too.
Against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday, Grabo authored his fanciest shootout move yet. Who cares if he didn’t score? He faked a slapshot, deked back-and-forth twice, then did a spinaroonie and shot the puck with his backhand. Got all that? Don’t worry, we’ve got the GIF.
The Washington Capitals 2013-14 season has been a roller coaster, but their big summer acquisition, Mikhail Grabovski, has been one of the team’s most reliable performers. The 29-year-old Belarussian has adjusted splendidly to his new team and is on pace to comfortably exceed his career-best season total of 58 points — all earned while centering just about every winger on the Capitals roster. Grabo has received accolades from coaches, teammates, and analysts alike– a significant turnaround from the disastrous end to his time with the Maple Leafs.
So, how is Misha settling in the new city, how does he get along with gracious host Alex Ovechkin, and, of course, what led to the conflict between him and his old coach? Those are just some of the questions Igor Tichonenko of the Russian Service of Voice of America asked Grabo a couple of weeks ago when they met up at KCI. They went for a ride in Grabo’s car — in spite of having roomed with his captain for a few months now, Grabo does not drive 250 km/hr (at least not with camera rolling). You can watch the whole interview, and just in case your Russian has gotten a tad rusty, you are welcome to cheat and follow along the translation below.
The struggles of Troy Brouwer have been a long-running subplot in our weekly stat snapshot series. With just two goals and one assist at 5-on-5, Brouwer’s production has been way below what had been expected for him, and his underlying stats have been among the lowest on the team. Indeed, the numbers have been quite unkind to Troy, and at times they have even endangered our friendship with the Brouwer Rangers.
Late in the second period of Sunday’s game, Washington Capitals center Mikhail Grabovski earned a penalty shot after getting hooked by Ryan McDonagh on a breakaway. Instead of getting fancy with New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, Grabo raised up his stick towards the Madison Square Garden roof and fired a slap shot into the top corner of the net.
Saturday night everybody’s favorite Belarusian, Mikhail Grabovski, had the game-winning overtime assist against the New York Islanders. Three days later, back at home and in the lovely confines of Verizon Center, Grabo was given an early Christmas present from the Washington Capitals game equipment staff. Unfortunately for Mikhail, it was probably a present he wish would have come with a gift receipt.
The Capitals spelled Grabo’s name wrong on jersey. No, you weren’t hallucinating during warm-ups. Mikhail’s last name was really spelled with a Y.
Fehr scores on Friday. (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)
Eric Fehr has rarely had an easy season in the NHL. Under Bruce Boudreau, the former 18th overall pick was often under-utilized, banished to the bottom-six or the press box. Late in his first stint with the Washington Capitals in 2011, Fehr suffered a serious shoulder injury, a problem that plagued him for nearly two years. Because of that, he struggled in his only season with his hometown Winnipeg Jets after being traded from Washington. Looking for a job after the NHL lockout, Caps general manager George McPhee decided to take another chance on Fehsie. The 28-year-old, for the most part, succeeded, notching 17 points in the shortened season.
Rather than settle in with a nice role on second or third line, however, Fehr was asked to try something he’s never done before: play center. He spent much of October at pivot, registering just one goal. The shift, Fehr admitted, was difficult. Playing in the middle requires you to be much more aware, along with increased defensive responsibilities and not having a set position on the ice. Fehr’s struggles were understandable. Playing center for the first time in not something you can adjust to in a few preseason games. After the experiment Fehr then spent two games on the first line in early November after Alex Ovechkin went down with an upper-body injury. He did well in that spot, picking up a few points that week.
“It’s a very unique season for me,” Fehr told me Friday night. “I knew coming there was a good chance I was going to play center, but it’s been a little bit different.”
Inexplicably, head coach Adam Oates then scratched him for the next nine games. He was allowed back in the lineup only when another player in the coach’s doghouse, Martin Erat, got sent to the press box after he requested a trade.
“He was ready to get back in and he’s provided a spark for us,” the coach said of Fehr. “He’s played good.”