For the first three games of the season, Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin have been split up. Though this separation may not last long, and though they have spent some time apart during their years in DC, splitting them up is definitely a deviation from the norm. One impact of this change is forcing opponents to make a tough decision in how to match lines against the Caps.
But another major impact is the way the Caps are matching up against the opposition’s top line. Barry Trotz had generally preferred a power vs power matchup, often pitting the Backstrom-Ovechkin line against the other team’s top offensive line. With the duo broken up, the tough task of playing against the opponent’s top line each night has been assigned to the Caps second line of Marcus Johansson, Andre Burakovsky, and Backstrom.
So far, through an admittedly tiny sample of three games, the results have been outstanding. Not only has the Caps’ second line stifled the offense of the opponent’s top line, but by controlling the puck and going on the attack, they’ve been forcing the top offensive weapons of the Caps’ opponent to spend more time on defense than offense.
The Washington Capitals hosted their 2016-17 regular season home opener in style Saturday with a special red carpet event. As cars provided by Lexus dropped players off on F Street, diehard Caps fans lined the entrance, hoping for a picture or an autograph with their favorite athlete.
The event started at 3:30 and was hosted by PA Announcer Wes Johnson, who served as the master of ceremonies. Johnson introduced players as they arrived while preselected fans walked the players down the red carpet. Many Caps, including Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson, Nate Schmidt, and Andre Burakovsky, posed for selfies with fans before going inside Verizon Center.
That afternoon, RMNB had two photographers at the event, myself and the talented Katie Snyder (who you can follow on Instagram and Facebook). Snyder is one of the Redskins’ home-game photographers and graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Snyder also does a lot of freelance work, including family-based portraits.
For a decade, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom have been dominant offensive forces for the Washington Capitals, spending most of their time in DC together on one line. Over this time Ovechkin has scored 50 goals six times, becoming the greatest goal scorer in the NHL, while Backstrom has hit 70 points during five campaigns.
The Capitals spent years trying to find a quality, second line center to make the team more than just one line of firepower. They finally found one in Evgeny Kuznetsov, who flourished in his second NHL season last year, leading the team with 77 points. Some of his 57 assists, fourth most in the league, were spellbinding. So now, at least to start, Backstrom is the one backing him up — at least on the depth chart.
During Thursday’s 3-2 shootout loss, Backstrom assisted on both of his team’s goals, making enlightened and deft passes that led to two goals for Andre Burakovsky. Backstrom also had five shots on goal and won 16 of his 23 faceoff attempts. The trio was rounded out by Marcus Johansson, a Swede like Backstrom and Burakovsky.
“The Backstrom line was really good,” head coach Barry Trotz told reporters after the game. “All the other lines had spurts where there were okay, but they also weren’t as as consistent as that line. That line was our most effective by a large margin today.”
Now that the Capitals have figured out their 2016-17 opening night roster, the team conducted their final photo shoots for the Caps Canine Calendar, Monday afternoon.
Caps stars Alex Ovechkin, Braden Holtby, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Nicklas Backstrom dispersed across several different tourist attractions in Washington, D.C. — the Capitol building, the Supreme Court, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and the DC War Memorial respectively — to take some adorable shots with puppies.
The calendar, which goes on sale on November 18 and benefits Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, is being photographed by Taylor Winnik, the wife of fourth-line winger, Daniel Winnik.
Six-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner Alex Ovechkin has been named an early favorite to win the award yet again. With 2/1 odds, Bovada has Ovechkin beating out the likes of Vladimir Tarasenko, Patrick Kane, and Steven Stamkos. Should Ovechkin score more goals than any other player this season, he’ll win the award for five consecutive seasons.
Filip Forsberg is a weapon on the ice. In just two seasons in the NHL, he’s become one of the league’s most prolific goal-scorers, with 33 tallies last year and 26 in his rookie campaign.
Now the newly minted 22-year-old has been compared to Alex Ovechkin, one of the greatest scorers of all-time. It’s just one more stab in back for Caps fans by reporters who refuse to forget Forsberg’s trade for Martin Erat in 2013 by former Caps general manager George McPhee. Oh wait.
“He reminds me of playing with Alex with his quick release,” Nicklas Backstrom, who centers Ovechkin and has played with him his entire NHL career, told Dan Rosen of NHL.com on Friday. “He loves shooting the puck. He loves to go to the net. He loves creating stuff. In that way he reminds me of Ovi.”
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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