Nothing but Love for Ovechkin

OVI OVI Oooooviiii

That chant is being heard over and over again this season as Alexander Ovechkin continues to amaze his team, the NHL, and we fans! The naysayers who thought he wouldn’t be a key part of the winning equation this year have been proven wrong over and over again. Sure he has had a few games with zero points, but he always has a way of making up for it.

Saturday night in Toronto was one of those nights. With a wrist shot and a power play goal in the first period, he set the tone for the team. Jakub Vrana certainly is learning from the Great Eight as we saw with his bullet of a shot in the second period. Ovi put a final touch on the game with an empty net goal that secured the win with seconds left for a 4-2 win over the Maple Leafs! And one more hat trick to his credit!

Beyond the praise for his on-ice achievements, we admire Ovi for the special way in which he interacts with some special fans. He showed his big heart again in Toronto when he gave young Alex Leuy, a cancer survivor, the star treatment.

Coach Trotz later called Ovechkin a great humanitarian. He spoke about Ovi’s ongoing relationship with the special needs community and the joy Alex has during this interactions.

A few years back Ovi met Ann Schrubb, a member of the American Special Hockey Association, and they quickly became fast friends. He still plays hockey with the kids and is a great inspiration to them. This past September he joined them for some street hockey in front of Verizon Center, as shared by the Washington Post.For years Alex has donated his time and money to children back home. He has funded orphanages and helped supply hockey equipment to the underprivileged so that they might have the same opportunity afford to him.

Alex Ovechkin is one of those rare people who come along every so often. He captivates us with his skills. He amazes us with his generosity. And he makes us laugh with his charm.

As we celebrate another milestone for Ovi–20 hat tricks and all-time goals 576–our wish for him is that he will have a team that hoists the Stanley Cup with him before he retires.

The Berlin Wall holds strong in the Lightning storm

The Washington Capitals hosted the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Capital One Arena and beat them 3-1. Philipp Grubauer was the Caps’ netminder for this game. Coach Trotz played him this game for many reasons:

  • The next day was his birthday! (November 25th)
  • Back to back games on the 24th and 25th, he would play one of them.
  • He would rest on his birthday.
  • He would get his rematch against the Bolts, who beat him in his first start of the season.

This was such a relief for Grubauer to finally get his first win of the season. All cylinders were going; defense played smart, offense started shooting and stopped being too fancy, and Grubi held his own in between the pipes. This was a well deserved win for the Caps.

 

The start of the game was not the best, however. Under two minutes into the game and 17 seconds into a power play, the Bolt’s young Russian forward Vladislav Namestnikov scored off a Nikita Kucherov shot to immediately gain the lead and put Washington on their heels. The Caps held their own and continued to play their game. Before the end of the first period, the top line tied the game up. Alex Ovechkin was the goal scorer on the rush. Fed from Tom Wilson on the right side, Ovi hammered a one timer from his ‘office’ on the left side top shelf. That goal tied him with Hall of Famer Mike Bossy in all-time career goals at 573.

 

Washington kept rolling into the second period where the fourth line scored to give the Caps the 2-1 lead. Jay Beagle fired a low shot coming down the left side where Devante Smith-Pelly was crashing the net, in which he popped in the rebound. Those are the gritty, hard-working goals that Trotz and the fans want to see from the team. Those are what get you into the playoffs and those are what get you past the second round.

 

Towards the end of the game, where Tampa pulled their netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy, Beagle found the puck and delivered a patient backhander into the empty net to seal the game 3-1. Caps played great, in my opinion, against the current number one team in the East Conference. If they can continue to play the way they played last night, then there’s a chance that they could slither themselves into the post-season.

Getting up Early on Black Friday..Not to Shop but for Caps practice

Early risers got a quick but vocal practice from the Washington Capitals. With game time at 5pm, practice was set for 9am at Kettler. Goalies out around 840am Kuzy, Orlov & Vrana all out early too.

watermarked16(2017-11-24-1348)Smiles were abundant along with lots of communication work when digging the puck out of their own end behind the goal. Some shaved their mustaches (Tom Wilson), others kept theirs.

Face-off practice between Beagle & Smith-Pelly got intense & Ovi did push ups while skating before practice.. (show off)

 

and tonight’s starting goaltender will be Phillip Grubauer…who has yet to get a win, #winitforgrubi Grubi’s dad was in attendance for practice and Phillip’s birthday is tomorrow.. maybe some magic in the air for Grubi tonight!

Fans got pictures and autographs from some of the Caps today too! Aaron Ness & Nathan Walker both stopped after practice in full gear to sign and take pictures with their fans, Jay Beagle & Braden Holtby stopped for fans outside of kettler on their way to their cars.. with it being a holiday for most there was a good sized crowd waiting for their favorite player.

 

Caps canine calendars are available for purchase starting today, they are for sale a Kettler &Capital One Arena. Caps players are taking to social media to advertise how the calendars benefits Homeward Trails shelter. I got mine today & it’s really a great calendar with awesome pictures of your favorite Caps players, some with their own dogs and others with dogs available for adoption. Go get your today Caps fans!!watermarked24(2017-11-24-1349)

 

Tarik and the Turkeys..

Last night Tarik El-Bashir of NBC Sports Washington DC, had the chance to lace up and referee the Mites on Ice game during the first intermission. But this time there was a twist- all the kids were dressed up like turkeys and Slapshot himself was on the lookout for fresh turkey meat!

We knew this would be good so of courrseee we took photos!

Enjoy and have a wonderful Thanksgiving from all of us at FiCP!

Nicky B. The Big 3-0!!

We just wanted to take a minute and wish our favorite Swede a very happy birthday on this Thanksgiving! We all know how awesome he is on the ice. But let us not forget what a great husband / father he is too!

So Happy Birthday Nicky! We hope it is a great one!

Here are a few shots from his last day in his 20’s!

Lady Gaga and The Caps

The Ovechkin’s and Orlov’s took in Lady Gaga at the Capital One Arena on Sunday night.

Gaga put on a GR8 Show, including celebrating her win for the AMA Best Female Artist 2017. This after beaming in a stunning performance to the Microsoft Center of The Cure for local and worldwide fans.

The boys are at The Vault tonight when it converts back to ice to meet, and hopefully have their own stunning performance against the Flames. Maybe she inspired them!!

Caps Return Home After A Horrendous Road Trip

The Washington Capitals went on a two game road trip this week, starting it in Nashville, TN versus the Predators and ending it in Denver, CO versus the Avalanche. Both games were an absolute disaster and is hands down the worst road trip the Caps have had in a very long time.

The Caps first visited the Music City, where the Nashville Predators have a very strong fan base (one of my personal favorites). Everyone was excited for this matchup because defenseman Matt Niskanen was returning from being on IR, a key part to the Caps’ defensive core. Off the bat, Nashville began to reign shot after shot down on Braden Holtby. It seemed as though every shot they took was on net, being placed in the perfect spot and/or being deflected. Holtby made every save he could have, but with Nashville out shooting Washington 12-0 only ten minutes into the game with barely any team support, even the best crack at some point. Nothing clicked for the Caps until the second and third periods where TJ Oshie and Alex Chiasson scored, but too little too late. After Nashville scored their sixth goal in the second period on Holtby, he finished out the remainder of period and was replaced by Philipp Grubauer, who did not allow a single goal in the third. Washington went on to lose 6-3, also losing rookie defenseman Christian Djoos to an upper-body injury.

Washington travelled to Denver in hopes to recover from the slaughter in Nashville, but would only be unprepared for the young Colorado team’s fast-paced style. One of the biggest surprises was Coach Trotz’s decision to make Jakub Vrana a healthy scratch, promote Brett Connolly to the third line, and activate Nathan Walker. Grubauer would get the start this game because of his performance in Nashville. This did not stagger the Avalanche for they opened up the scoring only 14 seconds into the game with a snipe from Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog, who would go on to score his first career hat trick in the third period. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Connolly were the only ones to score for the Caps. Grubauer could not hold off the young and proficient Avs team as they would crush the Caps with a 6-2 blowout. The entire team looked mentally and physically drained after the final horn, basically recapping the road trip for all its viewers.

This road trip was absolutely horrendous to watch. The entire organization, from the coaching staff and down, needs to take a hard look in the mirror and reevaluate themselves. There was a consistent lack of effort from the entire team. Not enough battles being contested in the corners nor along the boards. What I noticed was the breakout and the entry into the offensive zone was poorly executed every time, which resulted in turnovers and fatigue. I trust in Coach Trotz to make the necessary changes and send the right messages to the right people who need them in order for the Caps to start clicking again, or at least experiment with the different combinations for different results to start producing a sixty minute effort from the players that want to play. It won’t be as cute and pretty as it once was last season, but enough to grind out some wins in order to make the post-season.

We Like Winning Better: Caps Move onto Denver

Ok, there really isn’t anything good we can say about the Capitals-Predators game on Monday. So we have decided to focus on the positive aspects of the Caps, including winning against the Pens and Islanders. Lets hope they learn from their mistakes and come out crashing the net and shooting like nobody’s business in Denver on Thursday.

niskanen hiWe do want to welcome back Matt Niskanen who returned to the ice after missing 13 games with a hand injury. Unfortunately in his 20 minutes of play, he didn’t have too much to show for it except two minutes in the box for holding. You can tell from the following video that he was not feeling great about the game, for a number of reasons:

Looking back, the Caps played well against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Winning against the Pens is always a boost to the team and to the fan base. And there were some great moments that night:

And then we had the shootout win against the Oilers. Now this wasn’t a fabulous game either with Dmitry Orlov scoring the only goal in regulation and TJ Oshie winning it in the shootout with the only puck in the net.

The Caps managed to hold back Connor McDavid to three shots and zero goals, so there was that! Ju Jhar Khair earned his second NHL goal and first of the season against the Caps; his error also opened the door for Orlov to score.

Braden Holtby (and to be fair, Philipp Grubauer) has been doing his darndest to keep the Caps in the game, he often looks alone when the opponents come crashing our net. He had 29 saves against the Oilers,

The Caps are still getting way to many penalties and Tom Wilson is involved in too many fights to actually be helping the team. Don’t get us wrong – we love Tom– we just want to see him play more then we want to see him sit.

We need to see more from Alex Ovechkin but the team can not put so much pressure on him to be the deciding factor in winning or losing. Ovi has 13 goals

Meanwhile, TJ Oshie is second in the league right now with power play goals (six) and he has a total of nine goals in 19 games, leaving us wanting a LOT more from him.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov (17), John Carlson (13) and Nicklas Backstrom (11) lead the team in assists. Odd that Nicky’s numbers are lower but great to see Kuzy and Carly producing so much for the team. Especially good to see Carlson looking more like the player we knew before his injuries and great the he is holding up with all the extra ice time with Nisky out.

With Niskanen back we hope to see the defense for the team step it up more. He is a great leader and encourager. We have some young guys who are finding their groove, especially Madison Bowey. Unfortunately, Christian Djoos left the game with an apparent upper-body injury. We should hear more at practice on Wednesday.

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The bottom line to all this is, we the fans like winning better. Who doesn’t? And we get that the Caps will loose a game here and there. What is disconcerting for us is that they are now 19 games into the season and they still haven’t found the missing identity Coach Trotz often refers to. And for us, that is his responsibility. We can’t help but wonder what is going on between the locker room and the ice. We just hope they rediscover their magic soon. For now, they are in a wild card place in the standings. It is still early friends, but we would fell a bunch better if they moved up a tad bit more in the standings. Are we right?

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Caps Crush Pens in Homestand

The Washington Capitals hosted long time rival Pittsburgh Penguins at the Capital One Arena last night. It was a very tightly contested game until about the third period, where Chandler Stephenson scored his second goal of the season and Jakub Vrana would go on to score an empty net goal to seal the win. Washington went on to defeat the Penguins 4-1 in regulation time.

 

To open up the scoring for Caps fans, John Carlson ripped a bomb from the point on the power play to push them ahead 1-0. Alex Ovechkin threaded a pass across the ice to Evgeny Kuznetsov, who laid it off for Carlson to rip a one-timer from the blue line. The puck was deflected into the top corner off a defenseman’s stick. The Penguins would later tie up the game 1-1 with an own goal from Phil Kessel’s hard-pass off of Dmitry Orlov‘s active stick.

 

Later in the second period, Carlson again would rip a shot from the blue line. This time it was deflected into the top corner by T.J. Oshie, helping regain the lead for the Caps 2-1. The third goal came from Stephenson off a beautiful pass by Nicklas Backtrom, who finally ended his longest career point drought with the primary assist. He fed Stephenson with a behind-the-net pass through the legs of Alex Chiasson in to the slot for the goal. The game sealing goal came from Vrana, who capitalized off a missed pass by Penguins’ defenseman Justin Schultz. The Capitals went on to win and  out shoot the Penguins 31-28.

 

On the physical side of the house, the Caps’ were on it. Devante Smith-Pelly was an absolute wrecking ball and Tom Wilson was a presence as always. Liam O’Brien would answer the call from renowned fighter Ryan Reaves and drop the gloves, only to be taken down in the first few hits. Not the best bout by O’Brien, but a smart move to take Reaves out of the game for five minutes so the team could gain the lead. It’s one of those hidden strategies that not many people know about, but is neccessary in desperate times.

 

Overall, this was a well executed game from the Caps to capitalize on the crippling Pittsburgh team. They stuck to their game and played very conservative. Almost every player on the team was playing their game and playing well. Braden Holtby earned his 200th career win, becoming the 2nd fastest to do so behind Hockey Hall of Famer Ken Dryden. I hope they can carry this momentum into Sunday when they host the Edmonton Oilers. Brett Connolly is possible to return next game, so Coach Trotz will take that into consideration for line combinations. He will most likely send O’Brien back to Hershey for he hasn’t made as much of an impact as other recalls like Stephenson, Madison Bowey, and Christian Djoos. I think things are going well for the team and should slowly and carefully integrate injured players back into the lineup.

 

 

Celebrating John Erskine 

erskine jan2013

Today we were thinking about John Erskine recording his 400th NHL game on  this day in 2011. He would only play another 91 games before hanging up his skates as a professional hockey player. Erskine is one of our favorite Caps players and people. And he remains a loyal fan to this day.

John brought a toughness to the sport and a genuine enthusiasm for winning to the team. The defenseman fought through injuries for most of his career. He suffered with a concussion and injury to his hand, knee, and neck; and still he came back to play again. His work ethic was inspirational to many junior players on the team.

John’s career ended before he could rally his stats. What the numbers don’t show is the all-out enthusiasm he brought to every single game and practice. There will only be one number 4 for us!


Erskine last played in April 2014. Although he was on the roster for the 2014/15 season, he was benched, mostly for injury and injury recovery. He returned to the ice for a practice at Kettler in March 2015, as reported by Alex Prewitt. It was a long rehab journey back following an October 2014 surgery to repair a disk in his neck. We still remember the excitement of seeing him skating again.

Erskine in the house
Celebrating Big John, December 2016
John and his wife Karie now live back home in Kingston, Ontario where eldest son Paxton is following in his dad’s footsteps playing with the Quinte Red Devils. Ersk remains a big Capitals fan–he and Paxton are frequently at games since they live close enough to get to Senators and Maple Leafs games–always Rocking the Red and catching up with teammates.

We miss that huge personality that along with his physical game earned him the nickname”Big John.” You can see from this video why we loved John on the ice. Unfortunately, his spirit is likely what also ended his NHL career.