2017 was a big year for the Washington Capitals. They made it back to the playoffs, only to lose again in Round Two. They took the summer to regroup and trade away many our favorite players to make room to pay for those that that management hope will bring them closer to the Stanley Cup.
In January the Caps had a 14-game regulation winning streak which ended in a loss to Ottawa. But boy was it fun to watch! And they beat the Dallas Stars for the first time since October 2008. They also hosted the annual Hockey ‘n Heels.
February we celebrated Alex Ovechkin’s 1,000th NHL career point–who doesn’t like a big Ovi Party?? And we had a guest visitor from Abu Dhabi: female hockey player Fatima Al Ali who was invited by Peter Bondra to join the Caps at practice and to attend a couple of games while she was here. And…Burky hurt his hand February 9th and was out until mid March. We had our first taste of a ‘bye-week’ and we did not like it. The Caps added Kevin Shattenkirk to the roster and our hopes were high that he would be one piece on the board to help win the Cup.
March was relatively uneventful. We had a Caps Camo night to honor the US military. The team headed down the final stretch of the regular season and it seemed as if all the pieces were in place for a real run toward a final round in the playoffs. They were the first team to clinch a playoff spot with 100 points. Their performance was grand.
That takes us to April. Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer continued to amaze us with their blocking skills and shutout games. Garrett Mitchell – the Hershey Bear’s captain – got his first break playing in the NHL and we were thrilled to capture the moments with his family for him. There was some final game fun with the Jerseys Off Their Backs tradition – especially the Kuzy and Slapshot moment!! And then it was playoff time!
May began with chats of “We Believe” and hope that this phenomenal team would be the one to finally make a difference. Once again the Capitals won the President’s Trophy and unfortunately were again eliminated in the second round. Yes, kicked out of the run by the Pittsburgh Penguins…again… And then began the talks about trade and who the Caps would offer up a potential drafts by the new Las Vegas Golden Knights. Most bets were on Grubi getting the nod for the number one spot as goalie. And somewhere in the noise of the end of the season began the buzz about Jakub Vrana.
That brings us to the trade months of June and July. We reported on the Ovechkin wedding celebration extravaganza. Lily traveled to Chicago for the draft. We hung out at Caps Development Camp and had a first look at some potential players in the Caps future. That included Fan Fest and a lively alumi game. Mostly, we watched a lot on twitter as the players and their families enjoyed some time off. The off season is still a great time to meet up with other Caps fans – like at Fan Club events. And we said our goodbyes to the Smailys as they took our little mascot JoJo off to Texas.
First on the shocking list was the selection of Nate Schmidt to join the Vegas Knights. We still aren’t really over it yet! TJ Oshie worked out a deal with the Caps for eight years at $46 million. Then they resigned Brett Connolly. Dmitry Orlov was signed next for six years at $30.6 million. Evgeny Kuznetsov signed his eight-year agreement and Grubauer signed a one-year contract. Finally Andre Burakovsky was offered a one-year deal to see if he can improve his consistency and earn a longer term contract.
We said goodbye to Dan Winnick, Justin Williams, Kevin Shattenkirk, Marcus Johansson, and Karl Alzner. For many it felt as if the Caps team had been gutted and there was a good bit of uncertainty about the future. Oh and Mitch Korn stepped down as head goalie coach.
The changes continued in August. Verizon Center was no more. Enter Capital One Arena – The Vault! New jerseys were offered by Adidias and we covered they history of sweater changes. And sadly, CSN ended their relationship with our friend Jill Sorenson. Fan are still not happy about this change. And CSN became NBC Sports Capitals. And players began to return to the ice on their own at Kettler.
The new season got going in September and we had a chance to see some of the rookies at Caps Camps and in the pre-season games as management looked to fill their vacancies. The NHL Centennial visited Washington and we had a chance to hug the Cup — the closest we have come so far!
And at long last October arrived. Opening night included the red carpet and a lot of line shuffling as Coach Trotz worked with new players and how to best integrate them into the team. Burky got hurt again…and the Caps were plagued by quite a bit of inconsistency which led to fan frustration.
By November they were settling into a better pattern. Oh and there was Hockey Fights Cancer night – all those boys in lavender!!!
December has been a fun month for us with a trip to Las Vegas where the Capitals met the Golden Knights for the first time. Brittney met up with the Caps Road Crew and the Capitals’s Fan Club to get you some great shots of Nate Schmidt as well as the Caps playing in this fabulous new stadium.
We ended the year with a win against the New Jersey Devils — where we got to see MoJo again. We still miss him too…
So here we are in 2018 and hopeful that the months ahead will lead the Capitals closer to winning the Stanley Cup. We never give up hope.
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