Washington Capitals Weekly: 31 October to 6 November 2016

The Caps have one more game in Canada (Jets) on Tuesday and they return to a re-match with the Jets on home ice on Thursday.   Check the times below for game and practice times.

Game Schedule

Tuesday, 1 November at the Winnipeg Jets, 8:00 pm on CSN-DC

Thursday, 3 November, the Winnipeg Jets at Verizon Center,  7 pm on CSN-DC

Saturday, 5 November, the Florida Panthers at Verizon Centers, 7 pm on CSN-DC

     (Hockey Fights Cancer auction concludes)

Practice/Morning Skate (Schedule subject to change)

Monday the Caps have a day off.

Tuesday Morning Skate at MTS Centre in Winnipeg (Closed)

Wednesday is another day off as they settle in back home.

Thursday Morning Skate at Caps Kettler Iceplex, 10:30 am

Friday Practice likely at Caps Kettler Iceplex, 11:30 am

Saturday Morning Skate at Caps Kettler Iceplex, 10:30 am

Sunday, we are betting they have the day off as has become the tradition.

Special Events

The players will don lavender sweaters for Hockey Fights Cancer during warm ups on 5 November. The shirts will bear the names of those people to whom the Caps dedicate the game. The jerseys, and other signed items, are part of the ongoing auction, which closes after the second period intermission. Click here to see how you can bid on these items. (Current top item is a jersey for $1,000 and lowest is a $50 signed puck)

Who to Watch

Zach Sanford – he has his first NHL point and keeps coming close to a goal. Could this be the week?

Marcus Johansson – Everyone is buzzing about his two two-goal games. Is there a hat trick coming?

Conquering Canada, One Team at a Time… 

By Brittney Marcum

It was another late night for the fans with a 9:30 PM puck-drop. We know you’re either reading this after the game or just as your waking up. Either way we are going to keep this short and sweet.
The boys started off with the scoring quickly with a goal from Brett Connolly 2:01 into the first. This was his first goal this season. The goal was assisted by Jay Beagle and Zach Sanford (this was his first NHL point), who is quickly becoming one of our favorite additions. Marcus Johansson was the next to light the lamp with help from the great 8 and his fellow Swede Nicklas Backstrom. But all good things must come to an end as Mikael Backlund slipped one past the Holtbeast at 13:44. There was only one penalty in the first against Deryk Engelland for high-sticking on Tom Wilson.

In the second period the Caps and Flames made us a little sleepy. The score remained 2-1 throughout the period. Both teams had penalties this period; first Matt Stajan with a tripping penalty and then TJ Oshie the hooking followed by a slashing call on Justin Williams. The number of shots on goal were also less than stellar at nine for the Caps and five for the Flames.

The Third Period started with the Caps killing of the rest of J-Wills penalty. Flames did their best to control the ice, outshooting the Caps and putting them on the defense. Sanford had us all buzzing with a great SOG and lots of energy.  Elliot was doing some magic in front of the net including an amazing block of GR8.

Seems like the Flames man of the night was one-time Caps player Dan Wideman. He was everywhere the Caps wanted to be, foiling attempts. Right down to the last seconds–but it wasn’t enough. Marcus sent one last one in to end it Caps 3-1!!!

Next quest? Winnipeg Jets. And old friend MattyP.

Capitals Redeem Themselves in Vancouver

After the past two losses, our win against Vancouver was a huge sigh of relief and allowed us to all feel a little better about this four-game road trip. Tonight’s game more than made up for the 4-2 loss to the Rangers and the 4-1 loss against the Oilers, plus gave us a good look at how these new line combinations will work for the team.

 The first period was a breath of fresh air to Caps fans, when concerns from previous games were taken care of. Shots were taken, as opposed to an excess of passing. Specifically the third and fourth line seemed to be taking advantage of a lot more opportunities on goal, which made the offense very strong. 

Defense, on the other hand, was a little sloppy, and allowed far too many breakaways, which would eventually result in Jannik Hansen scoring with five seconds left in the period. That wasn’t until after both Marcus Johansson and Tom Wilson had scored within fifteen seconds of each other, however. Grubauer was also very strong, making some incredible saves and being very fast in his movements. Highlights of the first twenty minutes included Johansson’s unintended headbutt on Canuck’s goaltender Jacob Markstrom, the efficient penalty kill from the Caps, and the incredible net presence that Barry Trotz was hoping to create.


 The second period, on the other hand wasn’t as exciting. It started out slow and with a high-sticking penalty from Karl Alzner. The Caps were denied a goal under the claim of goaltender interference, but that did ignite a spark in them. After that, there was a lot more speed and eventually, a good goal from Marcus Johansson, yet again. Grubauer continued to make great saves and the defense cleaned it up some more. Overall, the second period was mostly in the Capitals favor, aside from a goal from Bo Horvat toward the end of the period.

 The third period sealed the Capitals victory, though, seeing a goal from T.J Oshie as well as an empty-netter from Alzner. It also featured a number of penalties, however, from both ends. The Canucks got penalties on tripping from Hutton, and cross-checking from Virtanen, while the Caps got hooking from Lars Eller, and the same cross-checking from Nicklas Backstrom. 

Overall, defense and speed were definitely a lot stronger in the last twenty minutes and, more accurately resembled the Capitals hockey we know and love. Trotz certainly knew what he was doing in tweaking the lines and leaving us all pleasantly surprised in this 5-2 win.

Caps Line Shuffle Leaves Us Shaking Our Heads…

Coach Trotz appears to be trying something new–again–with the lines. For the Oilers’ game, Coach moved T.J. Oshie to the second line and moved Andre Burakovsky up to the first. And we know how that game went with all the penalties, missed opportunities, a single goal by Alexander Ovechkin, and a 4-1 loss.

This sparked shock and horror to many fans as the Caps lost two straight games in regulation – something they hadn’t done since March of 2015, according to Mike Vogel. From what we are hearing and reading, Caps fans are feeling as if something is off.

And now we are hearing from reporters at the Vancouver practice that Trotz has really shifted the lines again.

Ovechkin  Backstrom  Williams

Johansson  Kuznetzov  Wilson

Burakovsky  Eller  Oshie

Sanford  Beagle  Connolly

Building Chemistry? 

img_5394-3So we have Tom Wilson moving up to the second line and Oshie moving to the third and a big switch up with Williams moving to the first line. We have gotten used to seeing Backstrom move back and forth between the top two lines, so this is no great surprise. But quite frankly, this latest move has many of us scratching our heads.

We get that Trotz likes to keep things fluid and keep the players from becoming complacent. We get that he likes to reward those that play hard and demote those whom he thinks haven’t shown enough enthusiasm for the win. We just aren’t sure what these changes indicate, if anything.watermarked142016-10-01-1257

  • Is he hoping to spark Wilson into a more offensive player by paring him with Mojo and Kuzy? He still leads the team in penalty minutes and has only had six SOG.
  • Is there a chemistry there that we aren’t seeing or that coach hopes to create?
  • What will Williams bring to the first line that is missing? Leadership? He hasn’t exactly been heating up the ice with SOG or goals.

We have said it before, and we will say it again: IN TROTZ WE TRUST!

They pay him the big bucks to figure this stuff out. We know something is off and it is up to him to find the way back to the kind of winning we saw last season. We have to remember that he knows things about the team which we are not privy to and so for now:

Breathe Friends – Breathe. And hang on until we see how things go on Saturday. 

 

 

NHL Curses: Is There a DC  Curse? 

Update: The Chicago Cubs have now won the World Series and broken the ‘curse’ that hung over them for 108 years. Twitter promptly lit up with hockey and Caps fans finding hope for breaking the DC Sports Curse. Here’s what Lily wrote earlier about curses:

During the Chicago Cubs run to make the world series, it seems that everyone was talking about the Billy goat curse. The story behind that curse is that a man named Murphy brought a billy goat, named Billy Sianis to a Cubs game and was told to leave due to the smell of the goat. Murphy responded “they ain’t gonna win no more!”. Meaning that they won’t make it to the world series let alone winning it. Last Saturday night the Cubs won game 6 of the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers and are now playing the Indians in the World Series defeating that curse.

Curses aren’t just in baseball though, there are also hockey curses:

The Presidents Trophy curse: According to this curse, the team that wins the Presidents Trophy, won’t win the Stanley Cup. It isn’t always true but, only eight of the 59 teams who won the Presidents Trophy won the cup. Including the Washington Capitals.

The Canada curse: This curse started during the 1993 Stanley cup finals. The LA Kings were up 2-1 against the Canadiens in game 2. Then the Habs coach noticed something weird about Marty Mcsorley’s stick. It turns out the curvature of Mcsorley’s stick was against the rules and he got an illegal equipment penalty. While Mcsorley was in the sin bin the Habs tied it up taking the game to overtime. The Habs won the rest of the series and the cup that year and since then a Canadian team hasn’t won a cup. Fun fact though, the Quebec Nordiques didn’t win a single Stanley Cups until they moved to Colorado and became the Avalanche. Their first year in Colorado the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup, coincidence? Not if you believe the Canada curse.

The Chicago Blackhawks: Recent years have perhaps layed this curse to rest, but it certainly was discussed for a while. In 1927 The Blackhawks fired coach Pete Muldoon. He then said that they will never win a Stanley Cup again. This curse was broken in 2010 when the Blackhawks won against the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Toronto Maple Leafs: Finally, the Leafs who have been called the Cubs of hockey because of their lack of wins. One of their players Bill Barilko scored the winning goal in overtime of the 1951 Stanley Cup Finals against the Canadiens. During the offseason Bill Barilko went fishing and was lost on the way back in a plane crash. The next time the Leafs won the cup was 1962, the year Barikos body was found and also 11 years after the crash. Then they won a cup in 1967. Right after the win their new owner Stanford Smythe got ill and then later died. They haven’t won a cup since 1967.

We hear a lot about curses in DC sports. Many fans think the curse is keeping the Caps from getting to the final round–what do think? Is there a curse and how do we break it??

Like the Cubs – IS THIS OUR YEAR???!

Penalties Drown Caps in Loss to Oilers

Get the coffee ready, Caps faithful! We’re in for a late night as our boys play the Edmonton Oilers at the brand new Rogers Place. In a game that started at 9:30pm, local time, this was the first meeting of the Caps versus rookie phenom Connor McDavid. Can Braden Holtby and the Washington Capitals defense stifle McDavid and the Oilers offense?

In the first period, Edmonton brought an onslaught of offense and had great zone time. They peppered Holtby with pucks but could not get anything through. Benoit Pouliot committed the games first penalty and was called for cross-checking against Alex Ovechkin. The Caps could not convert on the powerplay so the game remained scoreless. Jay Beagle was called for holding the stick of Connor McDavid, and the Caps were on their first penalty kill. As the Oilers were also unsuccessful on their powerplay, the Caps kept them off the scoreboard. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was also called for tripping against Evgeny Kuznetsov, and the Caps were back on the powerplay. However, they were still unsuccessful in getting a puck past Cam Talbot. Daniel Winnik was also called for a penalty against the Caps. He was caught tripping Connor McDavid. This seems to be a pretty penalty heavy period! Although, neither team could get anything past the netminders. Caps and Oilers tied, 0-0.

With :44 seconds remaining on Winnik’s penalty, the Caps started the second period shorthanded. Oilers could not convert, so back to even-strength go the Caps. The Oilers had a great oddman rush, but Karl Alzner was there with a sprawling play that knocked the puck away. Caps had a great chance as Sanford almost got his first of his NHL career, but Talbot was there with a fantastic save to keep the game even. Backstrom had a point blank shot but Talbot made another
spectacular save to keeps the Caps off the board. A rather lucky deflection off a Pouliot’s skate put the puck past Holtby and gave Edmonton the lead. With less than three minutes remaining, Pouliot threw a puck off Holtby’s back that bounced into the net. Almost immediately, Pouliot was called for a penalty for closing his hand on the puck. During that powerplay for the Caps, TJ Oshie and Cam Talbot got matching minors when Oshie furiously tried to get a puck from under the tendy and Talbot threw a few shots to Oshie’s face with his blocker. Things are getting fiesty at the end of the third. Bad guys up, 2-0.

Alex Ovechkin finally breaks through Talbot and got the Caps on the board 9 seconds into the third period. This is Ovi’s 4th goal in four games. Dmitry Orlov almost tied the game with a shot that barely missed. However, Edmonton got their 2 goal lead back almost immediately. Patrick Maroon tapped a rebound in past Holtby as Braden was flat on his stomach from blocking a shot from McDavid who hit post. Caps were this close to tying the game and just as quickly lost their momentum, viewing another 2 goal defecit. Lars Eller was called for hooking, sending the Caps to their fourth penalty kill. Edmonton was able to convert on this powerplay, scoring their fourth goal. Milan Lucic deflected the puck past Holtby, glove side high. Right after the faceoff, Oshie was called for yet another Capitals penalty. Caps go a mandown. Yet again. The Oilers did
not score on this PP. However, it did not matter. Caps lose to the Oilers, 1-4.

The Caps are having a VERY lazy looking and slow game. They look very tired tonight. There were WAY too many penalties committed by the Caps in this game. Not sure how they expected to win when they played half the game a mandown. While Holtby did he best to keep pucks out of the net, Edmonton had some very fortunate deflections and definitely took advantage of the penalty parade the Caps put on. The Caps are now 3-2-1. 

As they continue their Canadien road trip, the next Caps game is on Saturday night at 10pm, local time, against the Vancouver Canucks. We are lucky this one is on a Saturday night, as this is sure to be another late one!

Beer League Beat-Down: Ringers

Beer league is full of characters. You’ve got the hot head, the shy guy, the girl with the wicked edges, the goalie who only plays well halfway to hammered, the guy who plays three levels down, puts up all the goals and two-thirds of the assists.

It is this guy, the ringer, who is our subject today, and in reference to him, I pose this question:

Is dealing with sandbaggers a rite of passage for developmental players? A burden? A wonderful challenge? Something else?

There’s nothing quite like working hard, taking lessons, going to clinics, renting ice with your teammates to practice and then having some guy with no shoulder pads deke around the entire team, pass to himself off of his skate and drill an impossible angle shot off the turnbuckle and down for the score. Oh yeah, and then celebrates like it’s the playoffs after every single. goal.

I’m always left asking “Who even does that? They must know it’s not a huge achievement!” It’s like an English professor showing up to an elementary spelling bee and then being proud they can spell “scissors” correctly, or maybe if I decided to challenge an amateur cellist for their chair in community orchestra. Just the thought is laughable- but is that all there is to it?

I started the conversation by talking with some friends who also play D and C League hockey, and I hope you’ll join us in the comments!

CompSci maven Jen: “All of us in beer league are objectively terrible at hockey […] way to take the fun out of a thing that exists for no reason other than to be fun.”

West Point grad Jason: “We had this unbelievably good ringer in our league. He never lost the puck, could make crazy passes and score at will. So we asked around and it turns out he was a recent college grad that had spent 10-plus years playing high-level youth hockey around the country. You would think we would be mad, but when we realized his parents must have spent tens of thousands of dollars on ice time, equipment, travel, hotels and so on, only to have him be able to dangle around 40+ year old fat guys after midnight on a weeknight, we kinda felt sorry for him.”

Realtor David: “I actually don’t mind playing against a team who has a ringer or two so long as the ringers generally respect the level of play. I enjoy a challenge and playing against people who are better than you is an amazing learning experience. […] People who skate circles around everyone [who are] the deciding factor between winning or losing is wrong, and I have little respect for the ringer or the team itself. I feel bad that their team isn’t confident enough in their bond to skate hard together and win lose or draw be happy with the outcome and that everyone was out there doing their best and having fun.”

Content dev Tabitha: “In the end, it’s an issue of respect for the game. You can be a ringer, play down, and play respectfully of other players on the ice. Whether that means playing to the level at hand, balancing the skill level using smarter passes and perception up ice, or simply avoiding the heads-down, no-pass drop-in style of play we all know them for, it all comes back to respect. This includes respect for the other players (including abilities, weaknesses and well being), the officials, visiting families, and for the sacrifices we all make to be here each week.”

Well said. What do you think?

Amazing Hockey Hello Kitty from a Chicago Now piece on the same subject!

The Final Skate… Before Canada (A Photo Gallery)

Today’s practice began on the Arlington rink before switching half-way through.

BREAKING NEWS:

THE BEARD IS GONE EVERYONE!!!

There were smiles and laughter of course, we would expect nothing less.

And then there was a lot of hard work running drills.

 

Shots shots shots!!

DON’T FORGET: TOMORROW’S GAME IS AT 9:30 ON CSN

Nightmare at the Museum: Caps STH Party

The Washington Capitals hosted the annual season ticket holder party at the Smithsonian National The Museum of Natural History. The event has been held at Six Flags and the National Zoo in previous years so fans were pretty excited about the new venue. The night was a bit of a mixed bag – some fun and some disappointments.

The night started when fans lined up outside starting as early as 5 pm when the doors weren’t due to open until 6:30. The lines were long but they moved fairly quickly, for the most part.Once inside visitors were given a map with symbols indicating where players would be for photo opportunities or autographs. Unfortunately, the map didn’t tell you who was where so it was a bit of a mystery as fans wondered around looking for lines.

Wrist braclets were available for fans wanting pictures or autographs with Braden Holtby or Alex Ovechnkin, provided they had signed up earlier through Monmental Rewards. Alex was paired with Dmitry Orlov and Holtby with Taylor Chorney. Fans were pretty excited for the chance to meet these superstars, although many commented that they wished the could have had individual pictures with each player rather than the combined shots.

The night was a bit rushed as fans fought to find the right line. Unlike previous years the players shifted signing tables. For example, some fans were in the very long line for T.J. Oshie, Zach Sanford, and Matt Niskanen when all of the sudden they left and were replaced by Karl Alzner, Jay Beagle, and Nate Schmidt. The movement of players seemed to add to the confusion. Those fortunate enough to get through the lines were pretty excited to have a chance to say “hello” to favorite players and get their autographs. Many, however, were left disappointed (putting it mildly).

There were plenty of bag lunches, beverages, and cookies around the museum. Good thing because there seemed to be more fans than in previous years. It might have been because the venue was smaller and fans were in a more confined place. Additionally, the focus was clearly on photos and autographs with nothing else to do. In the other venues the fans and players seemed to intermingle more. There were rides and things to do. And we missed seeing the players families. This venue was missing some of the fun element!

As we walked out with other fans we heard them talking about sore feet and wishing they had been able to sit down more. Some were excited about the evening but most were just plain tired. Parking was a challenge. With Metro and all its problems, many fans drove and parked several blocks away. Flipping through Twitter, it’s clear a lot of fans were unhappy and left early. 

All-in-all it was a good night. Friends of the Capitals had time together as community and for many it was the only chance they had to meet their players up close and personal. However, we, along with many fans, hope they will go find a better place next year!!

Caps Hockey Fights Cancer Auction is Back

The Washington Capitals announced that the bidding is open for signed Caps memorabilia. Bidding starts as low as $50 for pucks and $250 for signed jerseys.

Each year the players don lavender jerseys during warm-ups with the names of special people in their lives that have have battled or are battling all forms of cancer.

This year Handbid will host the auction from October 24 to the second intermission on November 5th. Proceeds from the auction will benefit Flashes of Hope, Hope for Henry, Make-A-Wish ® Mid-Atlantic and Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, according to the Capitals. dsc_0291

The Caps provided the following additional information:

The auction will take place at the MSE Foundation table located on the main concourse at section 104 of Verizon Center during the game. Fans interested in bidding will need to download the Handbid app on their iPhone and Android devices and should ensure their phones or tablets are well charged for the game. Fans without smart phones may bid on iPads supplied by the Capitals at the MSE Foundation table while the auction is open. Fans not attending the game may bid using the Handbid app or online at http://www.washcaps.com/hfc-auction. Bidding began at noon on Oct. 24 and will conclude when the second intermission ends on November 5th. New items will be added leading up to the auction.