Caps Get Chances, But Not Goals, Against Sharks

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Photo credit: Rob Carr

Washington Capitals head coach Adam Oates has been searching for five-on-five production all season. While Alex Ovechkin has thrived, other members of top six have been less consistent. After the first period on Tuesday, Oates had a new iteration for the first two lines: Eric Fehr-Nicklas Backstrom-Troy Brouwer and Brooks Laich-Mikahil Grabovksi-Alex Ovechkin.

“We haven’t scored a lot of goals the last couple games and he’s looking for a spark,” Laich told me of Oates’s change. “Our line had a couple of good chances.”

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Monumental’s Rinkside Updates are becoming must-watch videos. Not really for the exclusive insight they are supposed to bring, but rather because of the silly things that happen in the background. Last week, Mikhail Grabovski avoided an important question about re-signing with the Washington Capitals. He did however comment on “a lot of funny guys in the shower right now laughing at me.”

This week, Nicklas Backstrom spoke to Mike Vogel and no one listened to what he was saying because we were too busy watching his new linemate, Troy Brouwer, hamming it up in the background.

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Adam Oates Looks for Scoring Balance With New Top-Six

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Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

This season, Alex Ovechkin’s shot has been an unstoppable force of destruction. Ovi has registered 31 goals. His line’s scoring, however, has often been one-sided. Marcus Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom, Ovechkin’s linemates for much of the season, have scored just six even-strength goals. When Ovi’s hitting the net, it’s not a problem. But if last year’s MVP hits some bad luck, as he did over the four games before last night, the line struggles. Ovechkin has just a single assist during five-on-five play.

“It’s not enough,” Oates said when I asked him about that stat. “It shows how much all three guys are important.”

For Thursday’s game against the Hurricanes, Oates switched up his lines, putting Ovechkin with Eric Fehr and Mikhail Grabovski while placing Johansson and Backstrom with Brouwer.

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Caps Auction Off Ugly Christmas Sweaters (Photos)

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The sweaters on sale. (All photos by Chris Gordon)

A couple weeks ago, the Washington Capitals released a magisterial Christmas video in which their players wore ridiculous outfits while pretending to provide musical accompaniment to Jingle Bells. Tonight, the team auctioned off the signed ugly sweaters worn Nicklas Backstrom, John Erskine, Mike Green, Brooks Laich, Alex Ovechkin, Aaron Volpatti, Joel Ward, and Tom Wilson in the video, with the profits benefiting Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic. Troy Brouwer owns the onesie he wore in the video, and according to Caps Community Relations, he refused to part with it. Instead, a signed stocking was offered instead. I imagine he’ll be wearing the onesie on Christmas day.

In the third period, it was announced by Caps PR that bidding raised $5,225 for charity. Way to go, guys.

Here are some photos of the #fashion on sale:

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[Editor's Note: Though he's one of the best players in the world, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is also a normal guy who likes to take in a movie every now and then. That's how RMNB reader Mahesh P. came to run into him and have a night he'll remember forever. Let's turn it over to Mahesh.]

My brother and I found out that Troy Brouwer would be at Tysons Corner Mall a few Thursdays ago, so we decided to go meet him. We were indeed successful in meeting him and he seemed like a really nice guy. I told him that I really like the way the 2nd line is playing right now and that they are cycling the puck really well, which he agreed with obviously. I also mentioned that I really like when Oates puts Fehr in the top 6. To this, Brouwer said “I agree, I think Fehr is really good because he plays well.” So, I would call that a successful meeting.

As amazing as the night had already been, it did not end there.

My brother and I decided to go to see the new Hunger Games movie in the same mall after meeting Brouwer. We debated whether or not to buy the tickets on our phone before dinner so that we wouldn’t have to stand in line at the box office. For the rest of my life, I will be thankful that we decided not to buy the tickets in advance.

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Washington Capitals forward Eric Fehr absorbed a scary hit a little more than halfway through a sleepy Caps-Panthers game. Florida’s Erik Gudbranson put a flying elbow into Eric Fehr’s head, sending Fehr reeling, then into the locker room.

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Take Troy Brouwer to #TheBank

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Photo: @tbrouwer20

The struggles of Troy Brouwer have been a long-running subplot in our weekly stat snapshot series. With just two goals and one assist at 5-on-5, Brouwer’s production has been way below what had been expected for him, and his underlying stats have been among the lowest on the team. Indeed, the numbers have been quite unkind to Troy, and at times they have even endangered our friendship with the Brouwer Rangers.

But I think it’s all about to turn around.

As I discussed in Sunday’s snapshot, and as Y.B.J.P. mentioned on Thursday, Troy’s imminent rebound is thanks to his recent divorce from Brooks Laich.

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Love ugly Christmas sweaters and cheesy music videos? This video will make you happy. The Washington Capitals have recorded a music video for Jingle Bells to wish you guys happy holidays. It features Caps captain Alex Ovechkin on the bells, Brooks Laich on the drums, Joel Ward on an inflatable pink saxophone, Troy Brouwer on bass, Aaron Volpatti on the guitar, Nicklas Backstrom on the tambourine, John Erskine on a pre-k piano, Tom Wilson on the ukulele, and– of course– Mike Green rocking the cowbell.

You have to see this.

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Washington Capitals winger Troy Brouwer has struggled this season. Maybe struggled is an understatement. He hadn’t scored a goal in 11 games, since early November, and his line has played so poorly that Peter called it the Black Hole Line.

Maybe breaking up with Brooks Laich meeting fans at Tyson’s Corner a few days ago did something to perk Brouwer up. He looked like a completely different player in the first period of tonight’s game against the Nashville Predators. He put up three shots and ended his 11-game goalless streak. After the goal he looked very, very confused.

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Bad Starts Continue to Doom the Washington Capitals

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Photo credit: Alex Brandon

The Washington Capitals have a glaring hole: they are terrible in the first period. The team is being outscored 24-15 in opening frames, one of the worst differentials in the league. Friday night, it happened again: the Montreal Canadiens took a 3-0 lead less than 14 minutes into the game.

The Caps know this is a problem too. It’s existed all year and you’d have to be stupid to miss it. Most troubling, though, is the lack of answers the players seem to have for the issue. They know it’s there, they just can’t stop it.

“Maybe we need some better music or something,” Troy Brouwer quipped. “I don’t know. We gotta find a way. We gotta find it fast.”

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