The Washington Capitals held an optional practice in front of a full house, Saturday. Half the team, including Head Coach Barry Trotz, was not on the ice. Everyone was energized and in high spirits from the 6-0 shutout against the Chicago Blackhawks the night before.
Instead of a puck, Daniel Winnik started the warm-up with a perforated practice golf ball. Later Braden Holtby and Nate Schmidt shared a silly moment after Schmidt and Dmitry Orlov put a shot past the netminder. Holtbeast playfully slashed Schmidt’s legs, whose dramatics ensued for a fun set of images. Holtby’s face after his payback was priceless.
Post-practice Matt Niskanen even tried to hide from the camera and we shared a laugh. It was a great welcome back to the hockey grind. Enjoy these snaps from the morning practice.
The Washington Capitals’ Scarlet Caps group hosted their annual Hockey ‘N Heels event Thursday evening at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Each rink at KCI was transformed into three stations: broomball, face-off practice, and goaltending lessons. Nate Schmidt and Daniel Winnik handled broomball on the Capitals Rink while Brett Connolly, Craig Laughlin and Craig’s daughter Courtney joined the games on the Arlington Rink. Philipp Grubauer, Mitch Korn, and Brent Johnson showed the Scarlet members the ways of a netminder. Hockey Hall of Famer Rod Langway and a few other volunteers acted as refs to drop the puck for face-offs.
After the on-ice sessions, the fans were treated to three different chats with Chef Robert Wood, Head Coach Barry Trotz (emceed by NBC4’s Amelia Draper), and alumni Johnson, Laughlin, and Langway.
Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom was the hero Saturday night in Ottawa. Backstrom’s 500th career NHL assist would prove to be the difference maker in the Caps’ 1-0 victory over the Senators.
After the game, Backstrom posed with milestone puck along with the goalscorer, TJ Oshie, and the other assist man, Nate Schmidt.
Nate Schmidt is a great hockey player who should play in every Capitals game. Recently, however, ya boy Smitty has been scratched for Taylor Chorney, after the latter scored the game-winning tally in the Capitals’ New Year’s Day victory.
Well, time to put down the Chorn Horn and ride Schmidt Scooter to Goaltown, USA.
On Thursday night, the Capitals broke the Columbus Blue Jackets’ 16-game winning streak, stopping them from tying the NHL record for most wins in a single season. More importantly,
defenseman Jesus Schmidt scored his first goal since January 7, 2016.
“It’s been weighing on me,” Schmidt said when I asked him about his recent rough road, with two straight healthy scratches. He then laughed heartily at his misfortunate. “It’s been a little tough lately. You just got to stick with it. … When they call your name, just be ready!”
On Thursday night, the Washington Capitals stopped history in its tracks when they ended the Columbus Blue Jackets 16-game streak with a 5-0 victory.
While the win was certainly exciting, Nate Schmidt was the most entertaining part of the night. Schmidt scored his first goal in 67 games to extend the Caps lead to 3-0. He also sung and danced to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It off” in a video shown during the second period.
Taylor Chorney scored on Sunday night to give the Capitals a win over the Ottawa Senators. The game-winner was a great release from far out to become Chorney’s first goal of the season.
That performance gives Barry Trotz a conundrum: When the Caps host the Maple Leafs on Tuesday, should Chorney get another sweater, or should he play Sunday’s healthy scratch, Nate Schmidt, instead?
Another way to ask that question would be this: Should the Capitals ice one of the league’s worst defensive pairs or one of the best?
According to the Caps official Twitter account, Taylor Chorney is in for Nate Schmidt tonight.
Over the course of 82 games, in-game and lineup decisions over a small handful of games aren’t worth looking too far into. So, this season when the Caps have sat Schmidt in favor of Chorney, it’s been pretty easy to write it off as needing to get Chorney work. And hey, it’s only one game so sitting Schmidt isn’t a huge deal.
Until it is a huge deal. Schmidt continues to absolutely dominate on the Caps third pairing. His name should be written in the lineup in permanent marker every single night. And while it may feel petty to care about a lineup decision for one game, this kind of decision making process is what leads to Mike Weber getting a sweater for a playoff game.
Brooks Orpik entered the season looking at a reduced role. Formerly deployed as a shutdown defender during his time in Washington, Orpik’s injuries, age, and the continued emergence of Dmitry Orlov have caused Barry Trotz and his staff to pencil in Orpik on the third defensive pairing.
Thus far, the results have been outstanding and, to many people, pleasantly surprising. There are a lot of factors that go into Orpik’s improved play this season. The veteran defender certainly deserves credit for accepting the role and seemingly simplifying his game.
Many people will point to Orpik’s sheltered minutes being a huge factor in his strong play, and it’s no doubt played a part. But not all third pairings are created equal. Orpik’s play on the third pair with Taylor Chorney this season has paled in comparison to his play on the third pair with Nate Schmidt. And Schmidt, for as much as he thrives on the Caps third pairing, as most any defender has under the Trotz regime, has shown an ability to play well in bigger roles. So, while being on the third pairing helps, this is far from the only reason Orpik and Schmidt have been such a strong pair.
One thing that seems clear is that Orpik benefits greatly from skating with Schmidt.
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