Caps Get Chances, But Not Goals, Against Sharks

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Photo credit: Rob Carr

Washington Capitals head coach Adam Oates has been searching for five-on-five production all season. While Alex Ovechkin has thrived, other members of top six have been less consistent. After the first period on Tuesday, Oates had a new iteration for the first two lines: Eric Fehr-Nicklas Backstrom-Troy Brouwer and Brooks Laich-Mikahil Grabovksi-Alex Ovechkin.

“We haven’t scored a lot of goals the last couple games and he’s looking for a spark,” Laich told me of Oates’s change. “Our line had a couple of good chances.”

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The Washington Capitals should have beaten the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday. If it wasn’t for Ryan Miller‘s stunning late third period save, they would have.

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Photo credit: Chris O’Meara

For most of the year, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has skated on a line with super Swedes Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson. While Nicky and Mojo are talented players, they are at times too timid to shoot the puck themselves. While Ovechkin leads the league in goals, his five-on-five output could still be better.

That may be why Adam Oates got all surly and switched up the lines three games ago. Ovechkin now skates with Mikhail Grabovski and Eric Fehr, players who are a bit more aggressive. And that may be why, on Thursday night in Tampa, we saw a little more of Alex Ovechkin the playmaker.

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Photo credit: @dcsportsbog

Playing the Carolina Hurricanes on December 3rd, Washington Capitals center Mikhail Grabovski stepped out on the Verizon Center ice for warm-ups wearing a nameplate with his name spelled wrong. Instead of the i, Grabo’s last name was spelled with a y.

When Grabovsky came back for the first period, his jersey was correct. Since the i and the y in the Cyrillic alphabet are interchangeable, we had a giggle and moved on.

But now it’s back. Grabovski’s y jersey returned in Minnesota.

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Adam Oates Looks for Scoring Balance With New Top-Six

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Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

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.

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Photo credit: Rob Carr

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.)

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Whoops. (Photo credit: Marc DesRosiers)

On Monday morning we published a story about how awesome Mikhail Grabovski is, including the likelihood of him re-signing with the Washington Capitals.

Maybe we should reconsider if we actually want that as it seems Grabo forgot how to play the sport of hockey during the Ottawa Senators game.

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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.

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Mikhail Grabovski’s Incredible Shootout Attempt (GIF)

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Photo credit: Joe Camporeale

When the Washington Capitals signed Mikhail Grabovski during the offseason, we knew he would bring teh corsis. But after watching him play in Caps red, we’ve learned that he brought some sexy breakaway moves with him too.

We’ve seen a few memorable moments from Grabo already. His shootout goal against the Florida Panthers was Forsberg-ian. His overpowering slapshot past Henrik Lundquvist during a penalty shot was, uh, Semin-ian.

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.

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Photo credit: Patrick Smith

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.

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