Capitals Dev Camp: All About the Goaltenders

Every summer the Capitals host development camp in Arlington, Virginia. And every summer we get to look at a new crop of goaltenders that are learning from some of the best coaches in the NHL and AHL. This summer is no different. Continue reading “Capitals Dev Camp: All About the Goaltenders”

It’s Like a Goalie Festival at MedStar Capitals Iceplex

Wednesday was the target date for most of the players to return to MedStar Capitals Iceplex for some conditioning prior to the start of training camp 14 September.

Although not everyone is here yet – no Tom Wilson sighting – we do have four of the franchise goalies in attendance.

Everyone’s favorite goaltender – Smiling Braden Holtby is back an in command of the situation. Actually -he was pretty good today chatting and encouraging the other goaltenders, especially his number two guy, Pheonix Copley, who wears number 1.

Iiya Samsanov seemed more comfortable in the net, with his new red goalie mask, than when last we saw him at development camp. His name is now on the Capitals roster with Holtby and Copley, so it is anyone’s guess who will be sitting number two.

And up from the Hershey Bearss we find Vitek Vaneck, who was holding his own against the incoming shots. He an Evgeny Kuznetsov shared a little secret on the ice…

The Caps are in a fortunate position. Although they lost Philipp Grubauer they have great potential to fill the number two spot behind the Holtbeast. The next few weeks of testing combined with a few preseason games will help the powers that be determine who sits between the posts when giving Holtby a rest. And they are watching all the prospects to size them up – as in assistant general manager Ross Mahoney who kept a watchful eye Wednesday.

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Oh and did we mention that Ovi is back??!!

My Time with the Washington Capitals

The Capitals had an extra goaltender on the ice the past few weeks for Camp Nemo. Max Cichanowicz was invited to sit in the net as a few Caps played a bit of ‘pickup hockey’ before training camp begins mid-September. Here’s his story about how the Capitals made his dream come true! Continue reading “My Time with the Washington Capitals”

No Shortage of Good Goalies Looking for Contracts, Including Caps Grubauer

The writing is on the wall – it is highly likely that Philipp Grubauer will not return to the Washington Capitals as a back-up goalie.  Brian MacLellan said as much on Wednesday during the media interviews. Grubi wants, and deserves, a starting spot.

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So what are the likely options being touted about? How about replacing Jaroslav Halak of the Islanders. Halak could be on the move which means this might be the best option available for Grubauer. The Isles seem dissatisfied with their backup goalies so we think they won’t be moving them into the starting spot anytime soon.  Continue reading “No Shortage of Good Goalies Looking for Contracts, Including Caps Grubauer”

The Many Faces of Braden Holtby

There are few things in life that make us (and we know many of you) smile than the looks of Braden Holtby. Today was no exception.

He was looking marvelous today at morning skate. Serene. Tranquil. Zen-like.

Whatever he is doing to keep in the zone and pucks out of his zone is working. Can’t wait to see more of him tonight when he blocks all those shots from the Golden Knights.

GO HOLTBEAST!!

GO HOLTHAWK!!

Capitals Bring Grubauer Back for One More Season

Philipp Grubauer is the last of the Washington Capitals restricted free agents (RFA) to sign with the team. And it is the shortest of all terms – just one year for $1.5 million. His previous contract was for two years $1,500,000 – an average of $750,000 a year. Although this is a bump in salary for Grubi, it also signals the Caps unwillingness to offer him a long-term commitment. Reports suggest that Philipp did not want to enter arbitration and run the risk of a two-year contract.  Because of his age, he will become an RFA at the end of this term and have to go through the negotiating process all over next summer.  Continue reading “Capitals Bring Grubauer Back for One More Season”

The Goalies of Capitals Development Camp

Critical to any winning team is who sits between the posts and who ultimately keeps the other team from scoring. This summer we had a chance to see four goalies who might one day be decked out in a red Capitals sweater.

Lets start with Adam Carlson. The 23 year old signed with Washington in 2016 as a free agent and has been playing with the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays. He played in 23 games and recorded one shutout against Atlanta. DevCamp 5159He initially reported to the Hershey Bears but was sent down to the Stingrays under and  Amateur Tryout Agreement under emergency conditions, according to the Stingrays. He will most likely return to Charleston but a door could always open to allow him to get some ice time in Hershey.

Collin Delia has made an impression during his time playing at Merrimack College (NCAA) last season. Not only was he invited to the Capitals development camp – he was also invited to the Blackhawk’s camp. DevCamp 570Tells you something about what the scouts see in this 23 year old. He will return to Marrimack as a senior. The door appears to be wide open for his future.

Goaltender Michael Lackey started in six games for Harvard (NCAA) in the 2015-16 season. Before that he was the starting goalie on the U17 team during the World U17 Challenge, according to Harvard and is a USA Hockey National Team Development Program alumi. He is also a local guy – born in Washington DC in 1997. He was sidelined with an apparent hip injury last year. DevCamp 54You see during camp just how invested he is in improving his game and giving it his all in the net. Hopefully he will be back on the ice for Harvard and we’ll have a chance to see how his time at home has paid off.

Mack Shields, the Canadian goaltender from U Sports York University, made his mark on the camp. The York Lions said of Shields: ” A big goalie who has a tremendous work ethic and thinks the game well for his position.” We saw that as he seemed to always have the ear of the Capitals goalie coaches during camp. We understand he will be back for rookie camp.DevCamp 5123 Shields will return to York for his sophomore season.

It was great fun getting to see these guys working with goaltender trainers Mitch Korn and Scott Murray. It was a real treat to spend time with Korn who stepped down as the Capitals goalie guru at the end of camp. We look forward to following them and their possible future in the NHL.

 

 

 

Who is This Matt Murray Who Is Stopping the Caps??

The Pittsburgh Penguins are riding a hot goaltender in the 2016 playoffs after starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury suffered a concussion more than a month ago. A 21-year-old rookie goaltender named Matt Murray was called up from AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and has been a rock in net. He’s been in net since game 3 against the New York Rangers, replacing Jeff Zatkoff, and hasn’t looked back.

According to the Internet Hockey Database, Murray’s career began in his home country of Canada, where he played 40 games for the Thunder Bay Kings midget minor league team in 2009-10. Thunder Bay went to the 2010 OHL Cup with Murray recording a 2-1 record and a 2.67 GAA. In 2010-11, he was drafted by OHL team Sault. Ste. Marie in the second round (35th overall) where he played four seasons. He also played on the Canadian World Junior team in 2012, earning a bronze medal.

He was chosen as a third round draft pick by the Penguins in 2012. In Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, he quickly developed into one of the top goalie prospects in the league. He recorded a record 12 shutouts in his first full AHL season and swept most of the AHL rookie awards in 2014-15. With Fleury under contract for three more seasons after this, one tends to wonder if they will make him or Fleury available if and when an expansion draft is called or make either one trade bait. I doubt Fleury or Murray want to be a backup.

Being a rookie netminder, he admires a lot of players, including Braden Holtby. He can get a little star struck when meeting players he idolized growing up. He also has no animosity from Fleury, as he took the young goaltender under his wing and helped him through some rough patches in the regular season. He has earned the right to stay in net even with a healthy Fleury watching on.

At 6 foot 4, he’s fairly tall for a goaltender. The more he sees, the better his play becomes. He’s a rookie so his puck play, especially when he passes from the net, could improve. His stats so far in the playoffs are mind blowing for a rookie: 5-1, 1.79 GAA, .944 save percentage and a shutout.

He’ll have an even bigger challenge Wednesday as Kris Letang’s suspension is definitely going to lead to more chances for the Caps.

Round Two Stimga: Caps Keep Coming Back

Yea, we all know the Caps history.

We use the appearance of their star player Alex Ovechkin in 2005 as a starting milestone since many of our friends think the team’s success rests on the shoulders of Ovi. So, here’s where they stand:

They have made it to round 3 conference finals, oh never…

They have made it to round 2 four times, including this season.

They have made it to round 1  three times, including this season.

They totally missed the playoffs in the 2005/06, 2006/07, or 2013/14.

They haven’t made it to the Stanley Cup Final since the 1997/98; they have made it to the playoffs 26 times since 1974

We understand the cautious optimism that borders on a lack of expectation. However, we have all said, over and over, that THIS Capitals team is different. We believe this to be true and while we are on the cautiously optimistic side of the fence, we are holding our breath with everyone.

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This team has real depth. We have Stanley Cup winners who know what it takes to keep coming back.  In the course of six games, all but seven of the active roster players recorded a point, including goaltender Braden Holtby. One of those without a point was Brooks Orpik who was out for four games. Every player, with the exception of Mike Weber had at least one shot on goal during the series. Eight players scored at least one goal.

How do the Caps compare with the other teams that moved forward to round two? We find that for many of the teams more than nine players scored goals in Round 1. For all but three teams, every player has a shot on goal. On average, only five players on a team did not record a point. In the grand scheme of things, we are slightly under-performing when compared against the other league leaders. Slightly.

As the team starts round two against the Pens on Thursday we think the Caps will need to increase their shots across the board. Every player will need to be more intentional about creating opportunities in front of the net. And against the Pens – stay out of the box and watch your defense. As Coach Trotz said today, it will take the entire team.

We think THIS team is ready to play like a team. We think they are fully invested in getting to the final round, one game at a time. And we plan to be along for the ride!!

GO CAPS!!!