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.
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.
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.
By this morning our worst fears were confirmed. Burky will likely be out until mid-March, according to Coach Trotz. He said it is a hand injury that will not require surgery. Zach Sanford will be in for him on Saturday against the Anaheim Ducks.
Matt Niskanen was looking pretty happy to be skating with his teammates on Wednesday. He seemed none the worse for wear and coach indicated in the post-practice presser that if everything checks out, Nisky will be skating on Thursday.
Niskanen is certainly one of Coach Trotz’ favorite players He has repeatedly spoken about his consistency on the ice. Niskanen leaves quite the void when he isn’t playing and the Caps need his kind of workmanship back. Matt has nine assists this season, second only to Nick Backstrom with 14.
In short yes, but this wouldn’t be much of a blog post if I answered only in short.
Remember that article I wrote about Ovechkin? On November 18 he took an awful hit from the Red Wings’ Riley Sheanan and is out with an upper body injury. No one knows how long he will be out, but he is week to week and that doesn’t sound good. But how much of a liability is that?
Last year we scored 252 goals and Oshie scored 26 of them. During the playoffs, we scored 29 goals and Oshie scored six .This year we’ve scored 48 goals and Oshie has scored eight goals–second to Ovechkin in most goals scored. Oshie also has an amazing plus minus record of +10. He is just absolutely amazing in shootouts. Oshie was a key player in the USA vs. Russia game. He scored all four goals in the shootout and won the game for team USA. He is an essential player on our team.
Is there a bright side though?
Yes, yes there is. Although TJ Oshie may be out for a while, we were given Paul Carey just in case another player was injured. It is good for players with less NHL experience than Oshie to get a chance at playing. While he isn’t as good as some of the other players now, the additional play time may be strategic for the team in the long term
Even though Oshie isn’t playing in the games he’s now practicing with the team. Coach said today that he is unlikely to play this week but with an upper body injury “the lower-body still works,” and he has been given the ok to skate.