So many incredible moments in this whirlwind of a season, and sometimes there are no words. As the saying goes “a picture is worth a thousand words.” And well, we have plenty so without further ado we have thousands of words to share.
We had happy boys:
And of course, we have those lovely goalies:
Jersey’s off our backs (Karl sporting a particularly awesome outfit):
The boys had loads of fun in practice too:
The Caps roomies never disappoint:
The special jerseys are always a pleasure to photograph.
Mini Chimmer makes his presence known as Tom Wilson and Dad fail to protect the net after practice:
As many of you know, we here at FICP are partial to having fourth liner Michael Latta in the lineup for the Caps. He is not only an excellent forward for the team, he gets chippy when he needs to and stands up for his teammates. The past two games Latts has had the opportunity to play in he’s gotten in scuffles with opposition. And we’re ok with that!
First was Scott Mayfield:
Next challenger was Clayton Stoner:
According to HockeyFights Michael Latta has had eight fights this season and has won five of those (62.5%)
Down to the Numbers:
Michael Latta played 43 games during the regular season and recorded an NHL career high three goals and four assists. Third behind his roomie Tom Wilson (163) and Captain Alex Ovechkin (53), Latts ended the season with 50 PIM, 18 minutes less than his previous season with the Caps. Before his NHL career, Latta played 52 games for the Caps AHL affiliate Hershey Bears where he earned 14 goals and 20 assists accompanied by 134 PIM in the 13′-14′ season. All this to say Michael Latta knows how to play some hockey and given the chance we think he could be a great asset going forward for the Caps in the playoffs.
The Fourth Line Mash-Up:
This season has been a battle for fourth liners on the Caps. Between the additions of Daniel Winnik, Mike Richards, and a few extra players “just in case,”the fourth line has been a constantly changing force. The usual suspects include:
Daniel Winnik (26), Michael Latta (46), Mike Richards (10), Jay Beagle (83), Stan Galiev (49), and the occasional call-up from Hershey. With ice time being split between this many players it’s crucial for players to step up their game and show the coaches just what they bring to the team.
Social media and the press are buzzing about the ’emotional’ return of Justin Williams and Mike Richards to Los Angeles when the Washington Capitals meet the Kings at Staples Center tonight. Having just gone through the emotional visit of Brooks Laich when his new team played at Verizon, we get the buzz.
However, we think the emotion is heavier on Kings fans than on our boys. Lets not forget that J-Willy left LA because he was ready for a change. And we know the unfortunate circumstances that brought Richards to the AHL and eventually to the Caps franchise. Both these guys won the Stanley Cup with the Kings and so there is a certain pride from the LA fans that goes along with their ‘homecoming.’ And we know that there are some long-standing friendships–Justin had dinner with Anze Kopitar when the Kings were in D.C. last February.
Williams told reporters this week: “I don’t like thinking about it because that’s looking back and I find the best way to move on is to think about the future and the present.” That’s what makes him the kind of leader the Caps have embraced.
We would say though, that both these guys are right at home in D.C…just look at these happy faces!!
So we will go along with the hype about their emotional return but at the end of the day, we expect Willy and Richie to show them which team has their allegiance today!!
The Washington Capitals are enjoying sunny southern California and tonight they meet the Pacific Division second place team—the Los Angeles Kings. We will be looking for some consistency in the lines now that Trotz’s Boyz have had a few games to settle into a new rhythm.
The Kings have been fighting the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks (SJS) for first place in the division. The Ducks have a narrow lead with one point after an OT loss to the Caps on Monday. The Sharks are two points behind and the Caps meet them Saturday night. Given the in-division fighting, the league-leading Caps should expect a tough game as the Kings want to be the sole owners of the Pacific.
The Caps, though secure in their lead, can’t become complacent at this stage of the game. So far they have two OT wins on this road trip. They need a couple more regulation wins to get back in the winning grove we saw before the snowstorm and All-Star game slowed their momentum.
Philipp Grubauer was in the net when the Kings visited Washington in February and he made an amazing 39 saves to bring a 3-1 win over LA. In that match up, Andre Burakovsky, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Jason Chimera recorded goals.
Justin Williams has been inspiring the Caps players in and out of the locker room. He, along with Mike Richards, make their first return to LA since they left the team. Both are likely to leave their mark on their former teammates before the night is over.
Brooks Oprik made his injury comeback during the last game against the Kings and also earned his first assist since returning.
Expect Braden Holtby in the net tonight. He is coming off his 41st win of the season in Anaheim, seven shy of New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur’s all-time record 48 wins in 2006-2007.
LA Kings Pregame
The Kings are one of the most cohesive playing teams in the league. It is a thing of beauty to watch their line changes, their ability to read one another, and their power on the ice. That means the Caps need to find a way to undermine this multiple Stanley Cup winning team. Staples Center is always full of energy and the Caps will need to keep those voices out of the their heads on the ice. Kings made some line changes on Monday night which helped edge out the Canucks.
Anze Kopitar scored a short-handed goal against the Caps in February. He is one of the most versatile and powerful players on the Kings team. He leads the team in points at 58.
Milan Lucic has found new life, recording two goals against the Canucks, bringing his NHL career total goals to 300. He was moved from center to left wing for that run. Meanwhile, Tyler Troffoli has been quiet in his last five game with zero points.
This was the first of two make-up games from January. The Pittsburgh Penguins came to Verizon Center to play the league-leading Washington Capitals. Defenseman Mike Weber also made his debut as a Capital.
First Period: Another Slow Start
The Penguins scored first on 2-on-1. The Caps first shot on goal came at 8:53 in the first. Tom Wilson drew the first penalty of the game, Chris Kunitz for tripping. Unfortunately, the Capitals could not convert on the man advantage. Defenseman Karl Alzner went to the penalty box for cross-checking but 31 seconds later Kessel went to the box as well. The Capitals ended the period better than they started.
GOALS: Evgeni Malkin scored his 24th of the season (assists: Carl Hagelin and Brian Dumoulin)
PENALTIES: Chris Kunitz (tripping) Karl Alzner (cross-checking); Phil Kessel (slashing)
SCORE: Caps trail 1-0
Second Period: Penalties Galore
The Caps started the second a little off. Patric Hornqvist doubled the Pens lead. But Mike Richards got the Caps on the board. Kris Letang hooked Jason Chimera and they both headed to the box because it was deemed that Chimera embellished his fall. Shortly after, Ian Cole hooked Dmitry Orlov but Orlov, like Chimera, was called for embellishment. The referees seemed to lean to one team over another. Orlov got called for tripping but the Capitals PK was successful. Evgeny Kuznetsov tied the game not long after.
GOALS: Patric Hornqvist scored his 16th of the season (assists: Olli Maatta and Sidney Crosby); Mike Richards scored his second of the season (assists: Nate Schmidt and Jason Chimera); Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his 20th of the season (assists: Justin Williams and Andre Burakovsky)
PENALTIES: Kris Letang (hooking); Jason Chimera (embellishment); Ian Cole (hooking); Dmitry Orlov (embellishment); Dmitry Orlov (tripping)
SCORE: Tied 2-2
Third Period: Nis-cannon!
The Capitals continued to play their heavy game into the third. Both teams traded chances early in the period. Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie collided mid-way through the third period. The net hit Braden Holtby and he fell to the ice but no harm no foul. Holtby even made a jumping save shortly after. Capitals had a power play with 7:15 remaining and defenseman Matt Niskanen scored the eventual game-winning goal. Holtby with a great glove save on Carl Hagelin with 32.8 seconds left. Capitals defeat the Penguins 3-2.
GOALS: Matt Niskanen scored his fourth of the season (assist: Nicklas Backstrom)
PENALTIES: Evgeni Malkin (high-sticking)
SCORE: Caps win 3-2
The Capitals rebounded from the Blackhawks loss. The Capitals are now 46-12-4 for a total of 96 points. They still have not lost two consecutive games in regulation. There is a good chance the Capitals reach the 100-point mark before the end of the week.
We also wish to extend our congratulations to Taylor Chorney on the birth of his son earlier today.
Practice: No morning skate due to back-to-back games
Game: The Capitals will face Brooks Laich and the Toronto Maple Leafs tomorrow, Wednesday, at Verizon Center at 7pm.
Monday, 22 February. Remember that as the day Caps fans everywhere celebrated Mike Richards! Richards, who joined the team on 6 January 2016, scored his first goal in a red sweater. And the crowd at Verizon Center went nuts with not one, but two, standing ovations for the former Stanley Cup winner.
About a year ago, the Caps were in discussions about possible trades come the deadline. Mike Richards was on many prognosticators radar with most writers saying the Caps should trade for him to help with the playoff push. Oh what a difference a year makes.
Richards has been through a bit of a personal struggle the past year or so and coming to Washington after a promising career with the LA Kings would mean a fresh start for him. In typical Caps fashion, the fans welcomed him with applause the first time he joined the team for practice at Kettler Ice Plex in Arlington, Virginia.
And then we waited for what seemed like an eternity for him to get that first goal and with former teammate Justin Williams, bring us some of the Cup magic. Prior to Monday night, in 14 games he had zero points and we were all getting a little concerned for him. Monday was really a Williams-Richards night with Stick fighting hard at the net, spending four minutes in the box for two penalties, and recording an assist; the boys for LA were showing us how to get it done!!
Richards was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2003. Most recently he played with the Los Angeles Kings from 2011-2015. Richards has had a fairly solid career. In his six seasons with the Flyers he tallied 133 goals, 216 assists, 349 points and a +39. In a little over 3 1/2 seasons with the Kings, Richards posted 46 goals, 87 assists, 133 point and a -21 while winning two Stanley Cups.
At 31, he still has some years left in the tank. In last night’s Washington—Arizona game, he showed why the Caps took a chance on him. In the third, as Coyotes goalie Louis Domingue tried to press his glove to the ice to cover the puck, Tom Wilson dove and poked it away. Richards shot it in from just outside the crease, giving him his first goal since January 2015. Domingue was furious as he yelled at the refs that he had covered up the puck. The Coyotes coach challenged the goal but the refs said it was a good goal and that gave the Caps the lead for good.
His deal with the Washington Capitals amounts to one year, one million dollars, and a chance to prove to the hockey world that he still has what it takes on the ice. We here at FiCP loved Richards and Williams as Kings, but they are ours now and we couldn’t be more excited! Here’s hoping that Mike’s redemption story concludes with the Caps hoisting the Stanley Cup come June.
The Arizona Coyotes start a lengthy road trip with a trip to Verizon Center for a meeting with the NHL’s best team. Rookies Max Domi, Anthony Duclair and Louis Dominque have been solid for the Coyotes and of course the Capitals have their own share of young superstars. Marcus Johansson did not play in this game due to illness.
First Period: Capital Penalties
The Capitals started out fast and spent more time in the Arizona zone than their own zone. Jason Chimera was his normal speedy self and had some scoring chances.The Capitals penalty kill remained effective as Justin Williams took a seat in the penalty box twice. The Capitals captain took a seat in the final minute of the first period for boarding Jordan Martinook.
Goaltenders Braden Holtby and Louis Domingue remained spotless after one period.
PENALTIES: Justin Williams for hi-sticking (X2) and Alex Ovechkin for boarding
Second Period: Kuzy Ties the Game.
Coyote Kevin Connautonscored on a 3-on-2 to open the night’s scoring. Jason Chimera got a breakaway immediately after but he could not settle a rolling puck. The Capitals got their first power play of the game and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored on the man advantage. The Capitals would get more chances on the power play but Arizona goaltender Domingue was solid, stopping the Caps from taking the lead. The Coyotes went to the power play late in the second. Jason Chimera and Oliver Ekman-Larsson exchanged some punches and heated words at the bench as the period ended.
GOALS: Kevin Connauton scores his 4th of the season (Assists: Thomas Reider and Viktor Tikhonov); Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his 18th of the season (Assists: Alex Ovechkin and Andre Burakovsky)
PENALTIES: Martin Hanzal (slashing); Michael Stone (Hi-sticking); Antoine Vermette(tripping) and Tom Wilson (charging)
SCORE: Tied 1-1
Third Period: Richards First As a Cap!
There would be no penalties from the scrum at the end of the second. The Capitals would go to the power play once more but no goals. Then Ovechkin would score to give the Capitals their first lead of the night, 2-1. 26 seconds later, Mike Richards scored his first goal as a Capital. Richards received two standing ovations for his first Caps goal. Arizona was not pleased after Richards put the rebound past Domingue. The Coyotes got within a goal a minute later. The Capitals would hold the Coyotes to no shots on goal on a later power play and would be victorious over the Coyotes.
Mike Richards shot and first goal as a Washington Capital.
GOALS: Alex Ovechkin scored his 39th of the season (Assists: Justin Williams and Evgeny Kuznetsov); Mike Richards scored his 1st of the season and the game-winning goal, (Assists: Tom Wilson and Jason Chimera); Connor Murphy scored his 5th of the season (Assists: Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Justin Martinook)
PENALTIES: Jared Tinordi(holding); Alex Ovechkin (illegal stick); Nicklas Backstrom (tripping)
SCORE: Caps win 3-2.
The Capitals are still the NHL’s best team (44-10-4, 92 points) and Arizona provided a good battle. There were times the Caps looked a little sloppy out there, maybe the season is wearing on them. Coach said later that he doesn’t believe they have become complacent. They still want to win and they still play each game to win.
Just keep on, keeping on Caps.
The Capitals will practice at 11:30am on Tuesday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.
The next game is on Wednesday at Verizon Center against the Montreal Canadiens.
The Washington Capitals and LA Kings, who meet for the first time this season, are top of their divisions and both teams lost their last game—also both away games. That’s where the similarities end. The Caps, as we know, also lead their conference and the league in points. While the Caps held practice on Monday, the Kings had the day off. This is their fifth game of a seven-game road trip in which they have won two and lost two.
Goaltender Jonathan Quick has missed two games and is a day-to-day decision, according to the LA Kings, but could possibly be back the net Tuesday. Jonas Enroth was in the net against the Devils on Sunday. He had 18 saves and gave up the one goal that cost the Kings the game. Peter Budja will most likely back up Enroth is in the net if Quickie is out.
Marion Gaborik was placed on injured reserve February 13 for a possible leg injury he sustained in the Kings OT win over the Rangers. We’ll see on Tuesday if they bring anyone else up. His absence upsets the scoring power of the team.
TheCapson the other hand are looking healthy and there is a hint that Brooks Orpik, who practiced with the team Monday, could be back in his D-man slot. With Jay Beagle nearing his return the only problem Barry Trotz seems to have is who to play when.
We can expect a bit of an emotional game as Mike Richards and Justin Williams face the teammates that they helped win the Stanley Cup, twice. The LA Times reported that “Stick” had joked that if he and Drew Doughty they ever ended up on opposite sides they would have to drop the gloves. Dewey said Sunday that Williams would have to be the instigator. Richards left the team in a less-than positive atmosphere; however, they were the team he played with from 2011 until terminated in June 2015. Richards has yet to put a goal on the board, but he and Williams bring the Cup-winning maturity to the team.
It’s hard to talk about the Caps without saying the same thing over and over. They have Alex Ovechkin—number one in goals and shots on goal in the NHL. Evgeny Kuznetsov is fifth and Nicklas Backstrom is tied for sixth place with Sydney Crosby in overall points. And of course the winningest goalie this season, Braden Holtby.
We have some concerns about TJ Oshie who hasn’t recorded a goal in his last five games and only has one assist in the same timeframe. His all-time high was in the 2013-14 season with 21 goals and 39 assists. Not panicking yet, but we sure would like to see him get on the board as a first-line guy.
Coach Trotz in his daily presser said he was not too happy with practice today and that there were a few individuals who he felt weren’t “as sharp as they need to be.” When asked by Isabelle Khurshudyan who would be in the as goalie he replied, “a goaltender.” He says Orpik is progressing and when he thinks he is ready he will let the coach know. Orpik later said that he will see how he is doing Tuesday morning before making a decision. When he does return, expect short shifts and a period of time to let his body adjust to playing again.
Injury Report and Team Scratches
Jay Beagle: Yes, he is still injured and not ready yet.
The Washington Capitals came home to greet the New York Rangers for a 5pm puck drop at Verizon Center. Mike Richards made his home debut as a Washington Capital centering for Brooks Laich and Stanislav Galiev. Michael Latta and Zach Sill were healthy scratches.
Richards was phenomenal tonight and is starting to mesh with the team—he had two shots and two minutes in the sin bin.
First Period: It’s Not the Start, It’s the Finish.
The Capitals and Rangers started out hitting and moving. Justin Williams knocked the stick out of the hands of Ranger captain Ryan McDonagh. There is a saying that the goalie is the best player on a penalty kill. This was especially true during the Capitals’ first penalty kill of the game for Braden Holtby.
Marcus Johansson lost a faceoff and Ranger Chris Kreider deflects a McDonagh shot. Capitals trailed 1-0.
Derick Brassard held Evgeny Kuznetsov’s stick and the Capitals go on their second power play…and Capitals’ captain Alex Ovechkin scored his 27th of the season and ninth straight goal-scoring game against the Rangers. Fellow Russians Kuznetsov and defenseman Dmitry Orlov collected the assists on Ovechkin’s goal.
End of the first, Capitals and Rangers tied 1-1.
Second Period: Swede Points
The second period was much better for the Capitals. The Rangers continued their penalty trouble and the Capitals capitalized.
Dylan McIIrath took a slashing penalty and the Capital Swedes Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson connected for Johansson’s 12th goal of the season.
A few minutes later, Justin Williams tipped-in a Taylor Chorney shot to build the lead to 3-1. Andre Burakovsky got the secondary assist on Williams’ 14th of the season so all three Swedes collected a point in the period.
Ranger Chris Kreider ruined the fun with his second of the night. Capitals keep the lead 3-2 with less than four minutes to go in the period. And with that goal, the boisterous Rangers fans became rather quiet…
Goaltender Braden Holtby took himself out of the game with two minutes left in the second period, reportedly for dehydration—a common problem for the goaltender. Philipp Grubauer came in for the relief.
Third Period: Justin Williams’Hat Trick!
Justin Williams tipped-in another shot this time by Evgeny Kuznetsov for his second of the night and 15th of the season. It was a great set up by Andre Burakovsky for his third multi-point game in the last four games.
Before the period was over, Williams took advantage of the empty net for his third goal of the night. This was the second career hat trickfor Justin Williams.
The Rangers (and their fans) thought they scored with 54.2 seconds left but it was overturned for offsides. The Capitals end the game victorious, 5-2, over the Blueshirts of New York.
Thanks to two amazing goalies the Caps keep bouncing back and have a firm lead Division, Conference, and the NHL. Get well Braden, there is no one quite like you!
With 12 consecutive home wins for the guys Rocking the Red, they are one shy of a franchise record. The Capitals are the only team to not have two consecutive regulation losses yet this season. We are still waiting to hear when John Carlson and Brooks Orpik will rejoin the team.
Day off on Monday.
Morning skate Tuesday at 11:30 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday night at 7pm at Nationwide Arena.