I was going to give this story a sexy title like: TJ Oshie Goes Top Shelf, Unstoppable In Shootout, but the Caps shootout victory over the Ducks was a true team victory. For those who stayed up until 1 AM last night, you know what I mean.
Photo: Geoff Burke
The Capitals have a lot of skill, which makes them extra dangerous in three-on-three overtime. “We’ve got some good guys out there,” TJ Oshie said after the game to reporters.
That same skill makes the Caps downright lethal in the shootout. Barry Trotz didn’t even have to send out his three-time MVP, Alex Ovechkin, or arguably his best player, Nicklas Backstrom. Instead he sent out Oshie– the player who rose to fame by beating Team Russia in an Olympic shootout — and Evgeny Kuznetsov, the Caps’ team leader in points.
They scored easily.
Photo: Monumental Network
Yesterday, news broke that there might be a rule change to overtime next season. NHL general managers approved a 3-on-3 format to limit how many shootouts decided games. While the rule still needs to be green-lit by both the board of governors and the NHLPA, there is no one happier in the Caps locker room than Eric Fehr.
Fehr’s had a modicum of success in the shootout (he’s a career 6 for 18), but he was blunt about how much he hated the “skills competition.”
“Anything to get rid of the shootout, in my opinion,” Fehr said to The Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt, taking out his finest figurative verbal knife. “I’m all for it.”
On Tuesday night, as EPIX’s The Road To The Winter Classic began, the Caps began what became the longest shootout in NHL history. The scheduling conflict forced fans to make a difficult decision: reality TV or live hockey. For those who stuck with the live hockey, they got a shootout that went a record twenty rounds, five more than the previous record, which also belonged to the Caps. Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin actually shot twice in the losing effort.
Karl Alzner, Michael Latta, Nate Schmidt, Brooks Orpik, John Carlson, and Tom Wilson all got their first career shootout attempts in the same game.
With all the wackiness on the ice and the game determined not to end, the Caps turned to a late-game baseball tradition to influence the outcome: rally helmets.
Photo credit: Mark Humphrey
On Saturday night, former Washington Capitals grinder Matt Hendricks finally got his first opportunity in the shootout with his new team. He did not score.
Hendy even tried his patented move, the Paralyzer. Unfortunately for him, Steve Mason read the scouting report and made an unbelievable save.
Photo credit: Alex Brandon
After scoring a hat trick opening night, Washington Capitals center Mikhail Grabovski struggled, scoring only two points in his next six games. However, since being demoted to the third line with Jason Chimera and Joel Ward, Grabovski has found his groove, scoring 7 points in his last 5 games. And on Saturday night against the Florida Panthers, Grabovski reminded us again just how freakin’ skilled he is, scoring a fantastic goal in the shootout.
One for the ages. You know how it ends, so just watch and enjoy.
“In the shower I use a water-activated gel cleanser, then a honey almond body scrub, and on the face an exfoliating gel scrub. Then I apply an herb-mint facial mask, which I leave on for ten minutes while I prepare the rest of my routine.” (Photo: Jonathan Kozub)
The Capitals finally got the heck out of Dodge following a miserable homestand. The first game of their road trip found them in frosty Winnipeg, where the Capitals hoped to rid themselves of the gremlins in their defense and get an easy win from a soft opponent.
Haha. As if.
We were goalless until Mikhail Grabovski broke the tedium four minutes into the second period, sweeping a rebound home. The Caps swiftly surrendered that lead on a shorty by Bryan Little. To make junk worse, Andrew Ladd tipped in a Grant Clitsome shot just 70 seconds later. Luckily the Caps still have one guy who can deliver this season: Alex Ovechkin got two late in the second: a breakaway and a set play off the faceoff. Call it the Ovisplosion. Of course, Blake Wheeler knotted it at 3 goals apiece before the buzzer.
Troy Brouwer put then Caps ahead again in the third period, taking a Jedi pass from Nicky Backstrom right up in the kanooblian paint. Little got his second of the night a bit later as the Caps were unable to escape their own zone.
Into overtime we came and went without a result.
- Wheeler had nothing for Holtby.
- Grabo musta left the smooth moves elsewhere on his attempt.
- Little’s attempt got kicked away.
- Ovi couldn’t get a nibble from Pavelec.
- Ladd beat Holtby stick-side to put the dirty Peg up.
- Nicky B had a sneaky delay to tie it up and send us into extra rounds.
- Jokinen wasn’t jokining with a sly five-holer. (Sorry.)
- Brooks Laich roofed it, so kept on going.
- Setoguchi got a low one on Holtby.
- Troy Brouwer roofed it, so we kept on going.
- Evander Kane got denied as the puck rolled on him.
- Marty Erat, the man, WON IT!
Caps beat Jets 5-4 (shootout)!
Dima losing the puck. Poor guy.
If you’ve ever watched warm-ups before a Capitals or Bears game, you may have noticed a pattern. Dmitry Orlov will spend 10 minutes zig-zagging along the red line, working on his puck-handling skills. Orlov, a defenseman who loves jumping up on the rush like Mike Green, is attracted to offense like a moth to a flame. During his younger days in Russia, Orlov was used routinely during shootouts.
At last year’s Caps Development Camp, Igor Kleyner asked Orlov if he’d like opportunities in the shootout once he came to North America. Orlov nodded and explained,”I think any player would want to get a chance to score in a shootout, although you need to be able to handle the situation mentally,” he said. “You have to be confident; you can’t be nervous. It’s mostly a game of nerves: goalie versus the shooter.”
When Orlov came to America to begin his professional career, his above-average offense was apparent. On November 18, 2011, when the Hershey Bears visited the Syracuse Crunch, Bears head coach Mark French played a hunch and sent out Orlov during the gimmick to see what he could do.
Paralyzed high-school hockey player Jack Jablonski drops the puck for a ceremonial faceoff between Parise and Hendricks. (Photo via Defending the Blueline)
When George McPhee traded for Mike Ribeiro and signed Wojek Wolski, he formed perhaps the greatest shootout line-up in the history of hockey. That duo is rounded out by Matt Hendricks, who went 5 for 6 and embarrassed some of the best goalies in the game last season. The Capitals don’t even need Alex Ovechkin or Nicklas Backstrom for the gimmick anymore.
But temper that confidence. On Sunday, NHL players including Zach Parise, new Caps defenseman Jack Hillen, and Hendricks, took the ice for a charity game benefiting Defending the Blue Line. The game brought 3,000 hockey-starved fans out to the University of Minnesota and raised an estimated $50,000 for the children of military parents. It was great, until Hendricks’ shootout attempt at the end of the game.