The tribute video was just over a minute long, but the ovation seemed endless. Brooks Laich’s teammates past and present stood and banged their sticks on the boards in recognition of his devoted service to the Washington Capitals and the game of hockey.
It began when he joined a last place team in February 2004 — Alex Ovechkin wouldn’t play his first game in Washington for another 20 months — and ended when he left in February 2016, with the Caps smashing NHL records with their eye on their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Laich’s trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs was billed as a salary dump, but it was one that left Washington’s general manager on the verge of tears. After Bruce Boudreau, Alex Semin, George McPhee, and Mike Green departed, Laich was one of the last of the Rock the Red, run-and-gun core that made hockey relevant in this town again.
“I wish the guys good luck,” Laich said when asked what he said the his former teammates during the tribute. “I looked down the bench and wished the guys good luck.”
On March 2, 2016, In Game Recap, By Margaret Stuart
Photo: Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports
It is 2016, and the only trend worse than man buns is the Caps looking deader than dead in the first period. Whether the Caps were playing at even-strength, on the power play, or on the penalty kill, they were hardly a dominant force throughout the game.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past nine months or have absolutely no prior knowledge of hockey, guess what? According to the standings, the Caps are the NHL’s best team, and the Leafs are amongst its dregs. After tonight, though, who’d have thunk?
The Caps made an already-iffy first period even worse by taking three penalties (and giving the Leafs’ league-worst power play a chance to climb the rankings.) The Caps’ penalty kill was equally disappointing; the same can’t be said of their first-period offensive outburst. Thanks to a sweet assist by TJ Oshie, Taylor Chorney scored the game’s first goal–and his first since 2011. Not to be outdone, Nicklas Backstrom capitalized on a Leafs turnover to set up Alex Ovechkin with a perfect pass. If you kept watching, good for you.
Woah, didn’t see you there, internet people. You caught me singing to myself.
The Caps play against the Maple Leafs tonight and Brooks Laich is back in town. Tonight will be like the closure talk of a relationship. Let’s hope everyone agrees to try and stay friends. Connor Carrick is back, too. Daniel Winnik is like our new lover and we’re about to run into both of our exes while out on our first date. This could be weird. Or awkward. Let’s get weird and/or awkward.
On November 28, 2015, In Game Recap, By Chris Gordon
Photo: Chris Young
The Capitals came into the Air Canada Centre looking flat, getting outshot 16-4 in the opening frame. That’s understandable, given the Caps were playing back-to-back games, their seventh match in 11 nights. The Toronto Maple Leafs, meanwhile, hadn’t played since the 23rd of November. They came out swinging, wanting one last win against the boys from Arlington before Steve Whyno relocates back to the National Capital Region.
Jason Chimera, Whyno’s biggest admirer, made sure the Leafs would not get it. After a nice save by Braden Holtby, Chimmer used his speed to go two-on-one up the ice. His shot wasn’t great, but it was enough to beat Jonathan Bernier, who hadn’t played since November 15.
The Leafs got the goal back when the fourth line failed to clear the defensive zone. Maybe Tom Wilson and Michael Latta were tired after carrying all of Brooks Laich’s Black Friday shopping.
Wilson must have been rejuvenated in the second, as he picked up a loose puck in front, did a move from the Nutcracker, scored his first goal in his hometown and his first since March 3. Later in the second, Toronto tied it again when Leo Komarov deflected a puck past Braden Holtby on the power play.
The man advantage was the story of the rest of the night, as Marcus Johansson expertly deflected an Alex Ovechkin PP Bomb into the net for his second goal in as many games. Justin Williams added Washington’s fourth of the net off a brilliant assist from Jason “Yes, That One” Chimera. Nothing in the third. Caps beat Leafs 4-2.
On November 7, 2015, In Game Recap, By Chris Gordon
Photo: Geoff Burke
After six years, Sergei Fedorov no longer stands alone as the most prolific Russian goal scorer of all time. With a backhanded whack, kiss of the glove, and a one-footed body slam into the end boards, Alex Ovechkin tied his legendary former teammate with his 483rd career goal. The Great Eight did it in 476 fewer games. The fans gave Ovechkin a standing ovation for his second period tally. The Leafs scored earlier in the game, btw, but that wasn’t important for our biased and bloggy narrative.
In the third, Tom Wilson made a dumb and James Van Reimsdyk and the Leafs capitalized. It looked like the Leafs were in for a win.
But wait! In one of the most glorious moments I’ve witnessed at Verizon Center, Ovechkin, with his back to the goalie, flipped the 484th goal of his career, breaking the Fedorov’s record. It tied the game. Until it didn’t. The goal was called back on a coach’s challenge.
Nicklas Backstrom scored with the goalie pulled and less than one second left on the clock, sending the game to three-on-three overtime and then — and apparently we still do these things — to a shootout.
Some stuff happened and then OVI WON IT! That was amazing! Caps beat Leafs, 3-2 (SO).
On November 7, 2015, In Pregame, By Patrick Holden
Tonight begins a stretch of games for the Caps against relatively weak competition. But there are no easy games in the NHL, and the Maple Leafs are better than their record shows, so it’s not as if there are any gimmes on the horizon for the club. Then again, tonight’s game is a perfect example of a game in which the Caps need to take advantage of the schedule. Seize the carpe, so to speak.
The Leafs are in town, fresh off an overtime loss last night to the Red Wings. Having played last night, and then travelling to DC after, Mike Babcock’s boys likely won’t be at their freshest tonight at the Verizon Center. Time to prey on the weak.
Check your local listings for channel, as the game is on CSN+ at 7 PM.
We got a lead from Evgeny Namestnikov, who we hired as a scout for us over in Russia. He said come over to watch this young man who he liked a lot, who he coached.
The Maple Leafs hired Namestnikov, a former NHL player and father of current Tampa Bay Lightning forward Vlad, to scout for them while working as an assistant coach for Soshnikov’s Atlant. This went mostly unnoticed in North America, but Russia’s top hockey reporter Alexei Shevchenko, after confirming Namestnikov’s double affiliation, referred to situation as “awkward.”
I think what the Leafs did was an unfair practice and requires an NHL investigation regarding its legality and possibly prohibiting it in the future.