Tom Poti - Jim McIsaac

Photo: Jim McIsaac

Tom Poti‘s NHL career ended inauspiciously in March of last year. A persistent groin injury kept him off the ice for all of 2011-12 before an abbreviated, 16-game comeback in 2012-13 spelled the end of his time with the Washington Capitals. “I still have that hunger to play and I still have that desire,” Poti told the Washington Times that May, “and I definitely want to play as long as I can.”

While his future has not included more NHL action, Poti is still on the ice and still doing good. This time he’s suiting up to face off against the USA Warriors, the sled and standing hockey teams made of wounded and injured American servicemen and women. On April 9, Poti and a team of US Olympians will play against the Warriors at UMass Lowell. The charity game will pit some of the most accomplished and impressive athletes in the country — against former Olympians.

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Please, Gnome More: Leafs beat Caps 3-2

patrick mcdermott

Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

I wrote on our mission statement that hockey should be as fun to read about as it is to watch. So what happens when hockey– Caps hockey at least– becomes a chore? Tuesday’s game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals was another messy loss, and gnome amount of puns will cheer us up right now.

The Leafs scored first, JVR seizing upon a communication breakdown between Neuvirth and Poti behind the Caps net. JVR struck again after Washington’s defense temporarily lost motor function. Marcus Johansson got his first of the year late in the first after Tomas Kundratek gave him a nice feed at the back door. Korbinan Holzer got his first NHL goal with a tricky long bomb. Mike Ribeiro executed a nice zone entry and passing sequence by sinking a powerplay goal, but the Leafs emerged victorious.

Leafs beat Caps 3-2.

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Tom Poti Scores Point in First NHL Game in Over Two Years

Tom Poti

Is Poti now! (Photo credit: Scott Audette)

Saturday was a bad night for the Washington Capitals. In their first game since May, the Caps got topped 6-3 by the Tampa Bay Lightning after a pitiful third period. One Cap, though, had to wait an even longer time between games. For the first time in over two years, Tom Poti stepped on the ice in an NHL game. After suffering a nagging groin injury and a busted pelvis (and before that almost losing an eye) it’s been a slog for Poti to make it back to the NHL. But just 8:25 into the game Poti got back into the action, assisting on Joel Ward’s game-tying tally. It was the 35-year-old defenseman’s first point since December 21, 2010 when he tallied an assist against New Jersey.

Coupled with a goal during his conditioning stint in Hershey (video) it appears Poti has come back as a scoring machine.

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Olie Kolzig

Photo credit: Chris Gordon

Olie Kolzig is remembered as the greatest goalie in Capitals history. A staple in Washington’s net for over a decade, Kolzig led the team to their only Stanley Cup Finals appearance and became one of the franchise’s most beloved players. These days Kolzig has a different role. In his second year as associate goaltending coach, Kolzig spends his time mentoring the club’s young netminders in both minor leagues. The influence of a veteran has apparently rubbed off on the players– Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth recently added the German goalie’s likeness to his mask, a gesture Kolzig deeply appreciated.

On Sunday, I spoke on the phone with Olie The Goalie, who was in Hershey scouting the Bears game. As the NHL season approached, Kolzig gave me his thoughts on the Caps goalie duo, the distractions Braden Holtby faced last season, and what he sees next for Alex Ovechkin. He even told me what he thought of Tom Poti‘s return to hockey and what that could mean for the organization.

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Read SHOE’s Story on Tom Poti’s Big Night

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Photo credit: Tim Stough / Sweetest Hockey on Earth

A year ago Caps defenseman Tom Poti was considered washed up. After a pestering groin injury and a broken pelvis, which apparently is an actual thing that can happen to a person, his future as a pro hockey player was dubious at best. Fast-forward to January 2013. Tom Poti has recovered. He passed his physical in DC and got sent to Hershey on a conditioning stint. Poti proved himself capable on Sunday night, scoring a power play goal in 5-0 rout over the Whalers.

Kyle Mace at our sister site, Sweetest Hockey on Earth, has the full story on Poti’s big night in Pennsylvania. Read it and then tell me you’re not rooting for the guy to come back to the Caps and do great things.

Use this Impossibly Big Link to Read How Awesome Tom Poti Is

A Primer to the Washington Capitals 2011-2012 Season

Primer to the 2011-12 Capitals Season

If you took a break from hockey after May 4th, when the Tampa Bay Lightning swept the Washington Capitals out of the playoffs, we completely understand. It was rough. But the new season is here, along with reasons for renewed hope. So in case you’ve been avoiding hockey in general and this blog in particular, we’ve prepared a primer to catch you up.

Here is everything you need to know about the Washington Capitals but were afraid to ask (2011-2012 edition).

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Caps Are Officially Back: Fitness Tests, Pies, and Sasha Cares

“Matt Bradley said what?!” (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)

136 Days after the Capitals got swept out of the playoffs, the players were back on the ice on Saturday, ready for a new season.

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Photo credit: Richard Wolowicz

After absorbing an eight-game losing streak in December and seeing their offense repeatedly not click, Bruce Boudreau and George McPhee decided that the time had finally come to change the team’s run ‘n’ gun style to a more defense-first system. During the year, the Capitals traded top six forward Tomas Fleischmann to Colorado for veteran Scott Hannan and also picked up Dennis Wideman at the trade deadline. The results were stunning.

After finishing 16th in the league in 2009-10 with a goals allowed per game of 2.67, the Capitals finished in the top five in 2010-11, with 2.33. Washington also had the third best penalty kill in the league last year, improving almost six percent from the year before. However, the Caps still flamed out early on in the playoffs, being swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“I felt we needed to add a defenseman last year in the summer and we didn’t do it,” McPhee said Friday. “We made the trade the during the year, but it’s a hard process to go through.”

So in response, McPhee signed 37-year old defenseman Roman Hamrlik, who played the last four seasons in Montreal, to a two year, seven million dollar deal.

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Eric Fehr, Matt Hendricks, Brooks Laich celebrate goal

Photo credit: Rob Carr

Not all goals are created equal. A team scoring first has almost twice the win percentage of a team that trails first, while scoring an empty net goal almost always means the game was out of reach. But what about all the goals scored in between? Of all those goals that a player scores, how many contribute to victories and how vitally do they contribute?

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FOR FRAK SAKE: Bolts beat Caps 3-0

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Just lie down, Schultzy. It’ll all be over soon. (Photo credit: Scott Audette)

In Paddy Chayesfsky’s Network, seasoned newsman Howard Beale has a nervous breakdown on live television. At the height of frustration, he compels his viewers to open up their windows and shout, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

Don’t know why that popped into my head just now.

The Washington Capitals’ appointment with the Tampa Bay Lightning was supposed to be an impassioned affair: two tied Southeast teams battling for the division lead. That did not happen. The Caps, perhaps reeling from last night’s overtime loss to the Panthers, never really suited up. The ever-improving Lightning took control of the game and never relented.

Dominic Moore waited for the power play to end before scoring, exploiting some lazy defensive work by Washington. Sean Bergenheim followed up with a home-run swing at one of Semyon Varlamov’s flying rebounds. And then Simon Gagne grabbed a loose puck and beat the overwhelmed Varly on the breakaway. The Caps didn’t even try. Bolts beat Caps 3-0.

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