For years, the Edmonton Oilers were in the cellar of the standings, raking in high draft picks like fall leaves. Last offseason, the Oilers rebuilt their rebuild, trading away number one selections Taylor Hall and Nail Yakupov while signing Milan Lucic to a seven-year contract. Connor McDavid, a generational talent with just 45 games of NHL experience, was given the C.
With the new captain, the youngest in NHL history, and a half billion dollar new arena, the Oilers have now won five of their first six games in the 2016-17 season, holding the top spot in the Western Conference and placing second in the NHL.
“It’ll interesting to see how they do this year because I think they have all the talent to be a much better team than they have been recently, with McDavid leading the way especially,” Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen said Tuesday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “It’ll be for sure a different Oilers team than it’s been the last couple years.”
Photo: Derek Leung
The Washington Capitals had a tough decision to make in Tom Wilson. The promising young forward could have started the year with the Plymouth Whalers in the OHL, where he’d likely score over a point per game. Instead, George McPhee decided the 19-year-old was ready for the big show. Having played more than ten games in the NHL, Wilson is now consuming the first year of his entry-level contract, but he’s got precious little to show for it.
Playing under seven minutes a night on the Caps’ fourth line, it’s not a big surprise that Wilson has yet to score his first NHL point. Instead his role has been relegated to fisticuffs: Wilson leads the team in fighting majors with 4. For a big, physical prospect touted by some as a future power forward, the early season comes a disappointment.
I’m not sure why.
Joel Rechlicz is a heavyweight fighter. He has held his own in fights with Donald Brashear, Matt Clackson, and Jay Rosehill. Every bout Recker’s had follows the same script: he either knocks you out or it’s a marathon that will make you wish you hadn’t dropped the gloves in the first place.
In Monday’s Washington Capitals’ preseason game against the Boston Bruins, Rechlicz reminded us that there’s more to his game than just shootout winners. Recker fought one of the toughest players in the NHL, Milan Lucic. ‘Twas epic.
Lasting nearly 50 seconds, Rechlicz and Lucic exchanged a flurry of lefts and rights, which left Recker bleeding and Looch gasping. By my count, Lucic landed more blows (9) than Rechlicz (8), but Recker got the upper hand in intense facial expressions.
Jack Edwards, the Boston Bruins’ homerlicious play-by-play guy, apparently did not see the same fight I watched.
“Lucic connects and connects and connects,” Edwards screamed midway through the bout. “Rechlicz’s being reckless with his face. He’s assaulting Lucic’s knuckles… with his nose.” Cute.
Because I love you, precious RMNB reader, here’s video, GIFs, and screenshots of the fight. Hockey best!)))))
GIF by welshhockeyfan
What did I say yesterday? Do not smite the hockey gods lest you shall pay. In game one of the Stanley Cup Finals, Jaromir Jagr hit the post in second overtime and then collided with teammate and part-time bouncer, Milan Lucic. Shades of this, amirite?
Next for Jagr: locusts!
Photo: Chris Gordon. Guy on TweetDeck: Adam Vingan
The Washington Capitals had only a 38% win percentage on the road this season, so getting the W Thursday night is crucial; they just can’t depend on victory away from Verizon Center. But Monday’s home loss to the Bruins was an ugly affair, and the once well composed team fell to shambles. To win Game Four, the Caps are gonna have to dig deep.
I have compiled a series of modest steps the Capitals should take to make it happen. And then we threw in the secret weapon. (Okay, we’ll tell you: more posters.)
Because this is apparently A Thing now, and because our comments are inundated with semi-literate Boston fans, here’s an animated GIF of Karl Alzner taunting Milan Lucic.
As an antidote, Beccah at Japers Rink wrote a very smart article about how playing the pest won’t work against the Bruins. And there’s a special treat behind the jump for The Alz-Stars (which is our new name for Karl’s fan club).
Photo credit: Stephanie Hakim
We almost feel like we’re watching some kind of bizarre social experiment in this series, as we observe Bruins forward Milan Lucic‘s temper simmer, simmer, and boil over more and more frequently as his line continues to be rather ineffective versus the Caps. These bursts of temper saw Lucic collecting 8 PIMs by the end of the night, though– puzzlingly- the refs seemed to think that it was always necessary to tack a Washington penalty on top, perhaps so Lucic wouldn’t get so lonely in the box. The refs have seen this behavior — he’s acting out for attention– and should know better.
Photo credit: Patrick McDermott
Game Three: The Washington Capitals treated the Boston Bruins to a quiet night of conversation and sport. And then all these damn rowdy Caps fans showed up and spoiled what could have been a pleasant night. It was ugly, it was loose, it was the opposite of those first two games, and it ended tragically.
With Brooks Laich screening up front, Alex Semin converted a first period penalty play while Chara was in the box. Rich Peverly tied it up, but who cares because Alex Ovechkin scored 13 seconds later. Daniel Paille was left all alone in front of Holtby, tying the game at two. Brian Rolston exploited some bad Caps D early in the third and gave the Bruins their first lead of the night. Nick Backstom set Brooks Laich loose for a breakaway to beat Tim Thomas and tie it with six minutes left.
On a late-game 4-on-4, Zdeno Chara’s slapshot caught a little bit of Hamrlik and got past Holtby. Bruins beat Caps 4-3.
UPDATE 10:45 pm: Nick Backstrom’s high hit after the final buzzer earned him a match penalty. He is automatically suspended from Game Four, but that may be waived later tomorrow.
Photo credit: Elise Amendola
As of Thursday, the Washington Capitals are officially embarking on a quest for sixteen wins and a big, shiny trophy. There will be many obstacles along their way, the first of which is the scariest team in the entire world, the Boston Bruins. You may have heard stories, legends, even epic ballads about the infamy of the Bruins, especially their scary power forward, Milan Lucic.
Doubtless you have heard from many Boston fans and members of the media since Saturday that Milan Lucic is a pretty big deal, and that the Caps will need to watch out for him. We’re here to second that assessment, and to offer a profile that we hope can come close to touching the sheer awesome power that is the Bruins forward. Don’t eat us, Mr. Lucic.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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