The Washington Capitals return home after a grueling road trip from British Columbia to Alberta, only taking one of three of those games. This has helped the Caps refine their lines with their chemistry, play style and injuries.
After the hefty loss on Vancouver, the Caps had a lot of thinking to do involving work ethic and tactics. Nothing clicked. Defense wasn’t present, goal scorers could not score, and with those not there, Braden Holtby fell victim to the Canucks.
The game in Edmonton, Alberta was surely a change of pace. The Caps played a bit more conservative and to their system. A lot started to click, which result in many scoring chances and opportunities. Once the confidence came back, the Caps looked a lot better because of it. The biggest change to the lineup was Devante Smith-Pelly, who was placed in the top six with the Russian duo of Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. DSP scored the first goal and an absolute snipe that night for the Caps with an Ovechkin-like one timer from Ovi’s office on the rush. He proved that he has potential to be a top nine forward.
The final game of the road trip in Calgary, Alberta showed us all how beaten up and fatigued the team was. They were surely ready to come home. Sporadic glimpses of confidence and grit, but nothing consistent. A close game and lose to close out the roadie is never fun for anyone. Alex Chiasson was placed on the fourth line, but was still put on the second power play unit. Barry Trotz must still be searching to uncork his gritty talent for net-front, veteran presence. All though he did not contribute to the Caps’ production department the entire road trip, maybe there is still hope in his signing later down the season.
With the Caps set to play at home and host the New York Islanders, they hope to refine their lines and build confidence amongst the team.
These are the words we are hearing after another loss for the Capitals on Thursday night. We really aren’t sure who this team is right now. As Coach Trotz said earlier in the week; they lack an identity. Continue reading “Capitals Rebuilding Every Game “
The Capitals will meet the Vancouver Canucks in the first of three roadtrip games tonight. The Nucks are having a bang of a start to the season by Western Conference rankings. The Capitals, not so much.
So we start with the dreaded news that Nicky Backstrom might not be in the game tonight. He is “ill”
The lines from this morning looked like this, but Coach says they could change. All depends on Backy’s status.
Holtby in the net.
Watch twitter for updates.
Anders Nilsson in the net for the Canucks. He has two shutouts already this season.
Vancouver’s projected lineup:
Daniel Sedin—Henrik Sedin—Jake Virtanen
Sven Baertschi—Bo Hovat—Brock Boeser
Sam Gagner—Alex Burmistrov—Thomas Vanek
Derek Dorsett—Brandon Sutter—Markus Granlund
Ben Hutton—Chris Tanev
Michael Del Zotto—Erik Gudbranson
Derrick Pouliot—Alex Biega
They are most concerned with keeping Ovechkin cornered and blocking his ability to shoot. And of course- beating Braden Holtby!!
The Caps have three away games coming up. Chris Cleveland shares his thoughts on what could happen!!!
Chandler Stephenson- The Caps recently put Andre Burakovksy on the IR after he had thumb surgery and he will be out for six to eight weeks. Stephenson, who has been red hot in Hershey, was the obvious choice be to recalled after registering his first AHL career hat trick. He seems excited to be a part of this trip. Chandler is from Canada after all, so there is a good chance he will get to play in front of his family and friends. We are not sure when (or if) he will play during this road trip but it would seem likely that he could play either in Edmonton or Calgary.
Caps in Vancouver- This is the one arena the Caps never seem to win in. They always struggle there and for some reason, it is a hard place for them to win. The Canucks are just that good at home. Even though it’s a tough place to play, it is a beautiful city. I think the Caps will come out slow, like they usually do when they have so many injuries and the lines so juggled. It is going to be an interesting first period.
Prediction: I’ve got the Canucks up 2-1 after the first with goals from the Sedin line and Jakub Vrana scoring for the Caps on the second period. The Caps will get an early power play chance in the second and capitalize on it to tie the game but will give up a goal later in the period and be down 3-2. The third will be interesting too. I have the Capitals knotting it at 3-3 but the Canucks once again taking the lead and then finishing it off with an empty net goal for the 5-3 win.
Caps In McDavid’s House– Rogers Place will be rocking for this high-powered offensive lineup. The amount of goals the Caps score in Edmonton seems to be endless. Look for Chandler Stephenson to be in for Nathan Walker this game on the fourth line. The Caps will come out strong in the first, getting a few early power plays, with goals from Oshie and Djoos. The Capitals take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. The second period is going to be the fun one with goals left and right. I’ve got Oshie scoring again and Carlson getting his first of the year. Caps lead 4-3 after two. McDavid will tie it early in the third with a beauty of a breakaway goal to tie the game. The Caps will eventually retake the lead with around seven minutes left I see Oshie getting his hat trick! The Caps will add another empty net goal from Lars Eller and seal the win 6-4.
The game of Grubi– Grubi definitely gets the start in Calgary with Holtby playing the previous night vs the Oilers. This is going to be another very interesting game for sure. The Flames always seem to be the wild game of the road trip and you never really know which way it will go. I think this is going to be a tight defensive game for the most part, with the Caps eventually breaking through midway of the game. Chandler Stephenson will get some more time on the power play late in the second and really capitalize on it netting his first career NHL goal. The Caps will add another goal late in the third and then an empty netter for good measure and with steller play from Grubi will end up with a 3-0 win and a very happy flight back to D.C.
So there you have Chris’ projections!! What do you think??
The Washington Capitals signed Alex Chiasson to a one-year $660,000 contract after giving him a look in the preseason under a PTO. His production on the scoreboard wasn’t a eye-catcher, but his gritty play and big stature landed him a contract with the club. Originally, Coach BarryTrotz placed him on the fourth line with Jay Beagle and Devante Smith-Pelly. However, with the “injury bug” rummaging its way through the NHL putting players like Tyler Graovac and Andre Burakovsky, the Caps look to mix it up. For the three game road trip, Chiasson will be paired on the second line with captain Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. The team aims to add more of a net-front presence to that line.
Caps’ lines at practice prior to Vancouver road trip
Chiasson was drafted by the Dallas Stars in the 2nd round of the 2009 NHL Draft. He played two years with their affiliate and made the jump to their team the in the second half of his contract. From there, he went on to play for the Ottawa Senators for 2 years (2014-2016) and the Calgary Flames for 1 year (2016-2017). Over his career in the NHL, he has averaged 10-12 goals and 14-16 assists per season. His production seems fitting for a good third checking line.
Alex Chiasson with the 2016 Calgary Flames
This is a risky move by coach Trotz, but nothing to be worried about. Trotz shuffles the lines regularly until players click. Maybe we’ll see a “Mike Knuble” style of player breakout from Chiasson, maybe we won’t. Only way to see if he has it in him is to put him out there for a game or two. Give him a chance to prove he is worthy. Best of luck to him in the upcoming games.
I nearly ran into Burky as he flew out of Kettler this morning. He was rushing off to have surgery on his left thumb, which he injured Saturday in the game against the Florida Panthers. He is now on injured reserve which opens some cap space on the roster.
Andre Burakovsky has had a rough start to the 2017/18 season and was just getting in his groove, having been moved down from the top line after failing to score a goal. He did that against Detroit on October 20.
Burky was out for 15 games last season when he broke his right hand. Similarly, Jay Beagle was out in January 2016 and returned in late February after missing 24 games. We should not expect Andre to be out that long.
In the meantime, Chandler Stephenson is up from Hershey and could see some ice time during this period. And for now, Nathan Walker is back in based on what we saw at practice.
The Washington Capitals leave Tuesday for Vancouver, but before they packed up they held practice at Kettler ice Plex. And the coaches put them through the paces. They went over an hour and then many stayed to work on specific skills.
Rookie defenseman Christian Djoos has proven to fit nicely among the Caps’ needs on their blue line. He has so far recorded two goals and one assist in his first six games in the NHL, compared to his father Par Djoos who only recorded two goals in 82 games. He was the “talk of the town” in Hershey and was an instant fan favorite when discovered he was going to compete for a spot on the Caps’ roster this season. Last season with the Hershey Bears, Djoos recorded 58 points in 66 regular season games (13G-45A). He fits very well in the second pair alongside John Carlson, who plays a rounded two-way defensive game.
The Washington Capitals current defense pairs are:
Djoos – Carlson
Orpik – Bowey
Orlov – Chorney
Matt Niskanen‘s injury versus the Detroit Red Wings crippled the Caps’ top blue line pair of him alongside Dimitry Orlov. Since then, Orlov hasn’t been the same without his original partner. This has propelled the pair of Djoos-Carlson to the top defensive role. In order to even out all pairs, Orlov has been placed on the third pair alongside Taylor Chorney. This will have to do until the return of Niskanen. In no way should the Caps even consider scratching or sending Djoos down to Hershey. He’s young and producing, which could potentially be the future of the Caps’ defensive core.
Everyone seems to be frustrated with the Washington Capitals inconstant play. And while there is frustration, there is also an understanding that the team is still adjusting to a summer of roster changes. And then there is the rookie element.
Coach Trotz hit the nail on the head in his post-game comments following the loss to the Panthers Saturday. The team doesn’t have an identity yet and they are really struggling to find a way to make it all click. By his own admission, he can’t get a handle on the mistakes and which players need to get some consistency back. Hearing that from the Caps coach is troubling. Continue reading “Capitals Inconsitency and Missing Identity “