Hershey Spotlight: Christian Djoos

Swedish-born D-Man Christian Djoos is certainly one of the guys we didn’t expect to see play for the Caps the majority of the season and through the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But he did and his name WILL be on the Stanley Cup with Alexander Ovechkin and one of the best, if not THE best scoring D-men in the league, John Carlson.

When we first saw Christian Djoos at Capitals Development Camp 2012, fresh off the draft, we weren’t sure he would make it. He was looking a little smaller than other defenseman but seemed to be quick on his feet. Over the years we have seen him grow both physically and technically. His feet are just as fast now if not faster than before; however, now there are some sweet moves to back up those quick strides.

Prior to the beginning of his American hockey career he played in the Swedish Hockey League for Brynas IF Gavle. This season Djoos scored only three goals with 11 assists over the course of his 63 game stretch in the NHL. In his last season with AHL Hershey he played nearly the same amount of games but produced 13 goals and a whopping 45 assists. We think these numbers are pretty great for a guy his age (23 going on 24) at this point in his career and we expect to see much more from him this season. Just because your name is on the cup doesn’t mean you’re safe (Jay Beagle, Brooks Orpik we miss you already…).

Show us whatcha got Djoos we’re ready!!!

Just a cool little tidbit of information for you before we go- Christian’s father; Par Djoos also played for Brynas IF Gavle before and after being drafted in the seventh round in 1986 by the Detroit Red Wings. His father was up and down in the AHL and NHL system for about five seasons before heading to the Swiss league for one season and finishing the last nine seasons of his playing career in the Swedish League where he began.

Hershey Spotlight: Connor Hobbs

Today begins our daily Hershey Bears Spotlight, the newest addition to the blog. We know you all are already going through withdrawals after yesterday’s final day of Caps Dev Camp so we decided to give you some more information on the guys from camp that will be heading to Hershey for the first time this season as well as those returning from the previous season.

First up we have one of our personal favorites here at FiCP; Connor Hobbs who played defense wearing #7 for the Bears since last season. Connor was drafted in the fifth round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft #143 overall and continued to play for the Regina Pats in Canada for two more seasons following the draft.

In total Connor played for the Pats for three seasons before coming to the Bears; breaking multiple records during his time there including goals in a single season by a Pats defenseman and points in a single season by a defenseman in the WHL.

Connor is a hard hitting guy who throws his body around in all the right ways and has the speed to get him where he needs to be. To us he is the Tom Wilson of defenseman. Last season he posted 61 minutes in penalties, accompanied by three goals and 13 assists Impressive for a defenseman in his first season with the AHL. These numbers do not truly reflect his abilities though due to a wrist injury that sidelined Hobbs for seven weeks.

We expect to see Connor again for training camp in September as he demonstrates his abilities with the full Caps team.

Kempny To the Caps and I Flat Out Love It!

Capitals acquire Michal Kempny from the Blackhawks.

Opinion by Chris Cleveland

Michael Kempny, the 27 year old defenseman, was traded from the Chicago Blackhawks to the Washington Capitals Monday and I flat out love the move for both sides. As a Hawks and Caps fan, I might have more of an interesting perspective on this then most people. Continue reading “Kempny To the Caps and I Flat Out Love It!”

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.

Washington Capitals: Sticking with Orpik?

Based on general manager Brian MacLellan’s comments last week, it would appear that the Capitals are sticking with Brooks Orpik. The GM said that there would be no buyouts, which implies that Oprik, with two more years on his contract, will remain on the roster. This has upset some fans who think it would be better to release some salary cap space to make room for younger players. Others see the benefit to be gained from someone with his experience and locker room presence.

The Capitals’ alternate captain isn’t afraid of the fight. He doesn’t hold back on the ice. And he doesn’t hold back from calling out his teammates to do better. After the Caps lost three west coast games, Oprik told Mike Vogel that “We make hockey our first priority and focus a little better than we did on this trip.” He didn’t want to explain himself to the press, but we’re sure his pals heard him loud and clear. After all; many wives, girlfriends, friends, and family accompanied many of the players, turning the trip into a bit of a holiday and perhaps a distraction. He went on to complain about the number of penalties the team was taking and the negative impact on their game. Continue reading “Washington Capitals: Sticking with Orpik?”

Hockey 101: The Defensemen

Washington Capitals Defensemen

44 – Brooks Orpik     74 – John Carlson

27 – Karl Alzner           2 – Matt Niskanen

88 – Nate Schmidt      9 – Dmitry  Orlov

4- Taylor Chorney
6 – Mike Weber

Welcome to the first in a series of articles explaining the different positions on a hockey team and what their role is. First up, the defensemen.

Being a great defensemen isn’t about shots or hits but the entire package. Defense typically is for grinders and fighters, those whose primary objective is to prevent the other team from scoring.

What is a Defensemen?

They are often referred to as defensemen or blueliners, the latter a reference to the blue line in ice hockey which represents the boundary of the offensive zone. Defensemen generally position themselves along the line to keep the puck in the zone. A good defenseman is both strong in defensive and offensive play while also defending and attacking.

What is their job in regulation play? Shorthanded? Overtime?

In regulation play, two defensemen complement three forwards (left winger, center, right winger) and a goaltender on the ice. Exceptions include overtime during the regular season and when a team is shorthanded (i.e. has been assessed a penalty), in which two defensemen are typically joined by only two forwards and a goaltender. In NHL play in overtime effective this season, the teams have only three position players and a goaltender on the ice and may use either two forwards and one defenseman (typically), or conversely, two defensemen and one forward.

Offensive Zone Play

In the offensive zone, the defense plays the blue line. It is their duty to keep the puck in the offensive zone by stopping the puck from crossing over the blue line. Passing the puck quickly is key to opening up shooting lanes or taking the shot themselves if the lane becomes open. Because defenseman are expected to shoot at the opposing net from long range, they usually develop some of the hardest and most accurate slapshots in the NHL.

During a power play, the defensive player can set up at the point and distribute the puck to the teammate he feels is in the best position to score, similar to the point guard in basketball or quarterback in American football.

Defensive Zone Play

When in the defensive zone, the defense is responsible for keeping the opposing team forwards opportunities to a minimum when they are on a rush, forcing them to the corners and blocking both passing and shooting lanes. When the opposing offense puts pressure on the defense, the skater usually plays closer to the net, attempting to block shooting lanes but also ensure the goalie is not screened so he can see the puck. It is especially critical to clear any rebounds away from the goal towards a teammate.

Neutral Zone Play

In this area, the defense tends to hang back towards their own blue line, usually playing the puck up to another teammate. This is where the defense joins the rush but should not lead it.

What award is given to the NHL’s best defenseman?

Each year the NHL presents the James Norris Memorial Trophy to the best defenseman in the league. Bobby Orr of the Boston Bruins—an eight-time Norris Trophy recipient— is often considered to be the greatest defenseman in NHL history. In addition to his Norris Trophy honors, he is the only defenseman in NHL history to capture the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer. In 1998, Orr was selected as the best defenseman of all-time (second overall player behind Wayne Gretzky) in The Hockey News’ Top 100 NHL Players of all-time. Niklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings is second to Orr with 7 James Norris Trophy’s.