Brooks Orpik Ends NHL and Capital’s Career

The Washington Capitals announced Tuesday morning that defenseman Brooks Orpik has hung up his NHL skates. According to the press releases, Orpik has this to say: I’ve been extremely lucky to have the best job in the world for many years, but my body is telling me it is time to move on to something new,” said Orpik. “I’m excited for more family time and to experience a lot of the things that being a professional athlete forces you to miss out on. Thank you to the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins for giving me the opportunity to play against the best athletes in the world. I’ll be forever grateful for the memories and relationships that hockey has given me.” Continue reading “Brooks Orpik Ends NHL and Capital’s Career”

Hagelin Signs with Caps for Four Years

It’s official! The Capitals announced Sunday they signed Carl Hagelin to a “four-year, $11 million contract extension, with an average annual value of $2.75 million.” Hagelin made his was to the Caps via the LA Kings and was a former Pittsburgh Penguin who was a thorn in the side the the Caps in the 2016 run for the Stanley Cup. The Caps picked him up in February 2019 and have never looked back!

The Capitals GM MacLellan shared their reasons for signing the hard-hitting forward:

We are pleased to have signed Carl to a new four year contract,” said MacLellan. “Carl is a versatile player who can play on any line and is an excellent penalty killer. He is a proven winner and provides great leadership to our team.”

Hagelin is just what the Caps need to transform the team into a fast strong team:

A two-time Stanley Cup winner (2016 and 2017), Hagelin has 48 points (22g, 26a) in 128 career playoff games, which is tied with Alex Ovechkin for the second-most playoff games among the Capitals (Orpik: 156) and tied for the 14th most among active NHL forwards. Additionally, Hagelin’s 237:14 minutes of penalty kill time in the playoffs is the seventh most among active forwards.

Matt Niskanen Heads Back to Pennsylvania

Matt Niskanen has always been one of the more reserved Capitals’ players. We remember when he first came to Washington in 2014 after a successful career with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Capitals announced Friday that they traded the defenseman to the Flyers for Radko Gudas. Continue reading “Matt Niskanen Heads Back to Pennsylvania”

A New Capitals Rivalry Rising??

The Pittsburgh Penguins have been the main rival of Washington Capitals since the 1990’s and heated up when Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby and were drafted in 2004 and 2005, respectively. The rivalry begins with the regular season and carries into the playoff matchups. Other major rivals for the Caps in the Metropolitan Division have included the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, although not like that with the Penguins.

Apparently, a new rivalry is rising although not with a team in the same division. It looks like the Tampa Bay Lightning are going be a frequent opponents for the Caps in the regular season and playoffs and a new primary rival. Continue reading “A New Capitals Rivalry Rising??”

Capitals and NHL Standings Watch

Thursday night the Washington Capitals clinched a spot in the playoffs. Unlike previous seasons, there was no doubt it would happen and fans were less nervous. For now, the focus is on that first place spot in the Metropolitan Division and who the Caps will play in the first round. The Caps are hoping for that home ice advantage. The NHL playoffs are based on a complex bracket system and each night in April brings teams a little closer to discovering who they will play. Continue reading “Capitals and NHL Standings Watch”

Capitals Start Final Push for Playoffs

With ten games left in the regular season it’s time to get really excited or really nervous about the Capitals remaining games. As this goes to press, the Capitals are on top of the Eastern Conference and the Metropolitan Division. The challenge for them to hold that position is the New York Islanders, led by their former coach Barry Trotz. Their playoff rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, are nipping at their blades in the hope of upsetting the balance.

The schedule for the run up to the Playoffs is maybe one of the toughest the Caps have had in a long time. The Tampa Bay Lightning come to Capital One Arena on 20 March and after their match-up in Florida, it is clear the Bolts will be a challenge, now and in the playoffs. The Carolina Hurricanes want to jump above the wild card line and have to get through the Capitals to do that. That could mean two more tough games for the men in red. Although the Caps beat the Philadelphia Flyers the last two times they met, one should never underestimate the tenacity of them. Additionally the Devils, Panthers, and Canadiens always seem to have a surprise up their sleeve and can’t be discounted when it comes to playing the Capitals. Finally, the last regular season game is against the Caps newest rival- the Islanders. It’s almost like playing themselves because of the Trotz Touch.

Nervous is what we do in the DMV. That said, we have no doubt that the Capitals will clinch a playoff spot. Although the schedule ahead is a tight one, the players are really stepping it up. Alexander Ovechkin is on the brink of his eighth season of 50 goals or more. Nicklas Backstrom is on tap for his fourth season in a row of 20 plus goals and sixth season in a row of 50 assists or more. Tom Wilson is having his best season in six years of NHL play. Sprinkle in Evgeny Kuznetsov, TJ Oshie, Jakub Vrana and some great defensive play starting with goaltender Braden Holtby, and we still have faith that the Capitals will be making it to the final round.

The fun is now. The push is now. Let the excitement build and let’s go ALL CAPS as they finish up the regular season!!

SNAPPED; Penguins top Capitals 5-3, But Still Retain Top Spot in Metro

TLDR: Despite two goals by Jakub Vrana, and one by John Carlson, it just wasn’t enough. Pittsburgh wins 5-3, snapping a 7-game win streak. The Capitals still maintain a first place spot in the division. 

In the first of a four-game road trip, your Washington Capitals were unable to complete a comeback against the Pittsburgh Penguins in enemy territory. Arguably the greatest rivalry in modern day hockey, when the Caps and Pens play, you know bragging rights are on the line. Every game feels like it’s the first, but things always pick right back up where they left off. Back in December, the Penguins beat the Capitals 2-1 at Capital One Arena. Although tonight’s game was the last meeting between the two of the regular season, a post-season meeting is all but guaranteed. With these two teams having met in the post season for three consecutive seasons, it just doesn’t feel like Spring unless there is a Caps-Pens series. Over the last three seasons, the winner of the fourth and final match-up has gone on to win the Stanley Cup, so to say this game had major implications would be a gross understatement. Red herring statistic, or is there really some juju behind it?

The Penguins took the ice tonight missing five key pieces, including three defensemen (Ruhwedel, Letang, Maatta) and two forwards (Aston-Reese, Rust). A healthy and decently-rested Capitals team were riding a 7-game win streak, boasting a 90.5% penalty kill and a power play running at 23.8% effectiveness. The first period started off as fiery and physical as expected.

PPG Paints Arena is difficult to play in for the opposition, but that didn’t seem to faze the Caps. Washington would receive the first power play of the night, as Jake Guentzel would be called for holding against Capitals captain, Alex Ovechkin. Unfortunately, Lars Eller would be called for kneeing, so play went to four-on-four for a moment, and the Pens would then get their first power play. A much-needed penalty kill by the Capitals kept Pittsburgh off the board, even with the extra man. Caps goaltender Braden Holtby somehow kept the puck from sneaking behind him despite a flurry of players right in front of him. With just over 30 seconds remaining in the first period, elite sniper Jakub Vrana snuck the puck past Matt Murray, giving the Capitals a 1-0 lead heading into the intermission. The goal would mark Vrana’s career-high of 20 goals.

Early on in the second, the Penguins received their second power play, as Ovechkin went off to the box for high sticking. Another successful kill by the Caps would not only keep the score 1-0, but would also give the good guys an odd-man rush between Lars Eller and former Penguin Carl Hagelin. They would not score, but it is very evident that the Capitals are getting the better of the scoring opportunities. With under 10 minutes remaining in the second, a weird deflection off of the back of Pens goaltender Matt Murray would give the Capitals a 2-0 lead. Jakub Vrana would ultimately be credited with the goal, marking his second of the night.

Shortly thereafter, Pittsburgh would score their first goal of the game. A defensive breakdown in front of Holtby would give Jake Guentzel his 35th of the season. 47 seconds later, a bad turnover in the Pens defensive zone led to Sidney Crosby tying the game at two each. Nicklas Backstrom would go off to the box for tripping, giving the Pens another power play. The already-energized PPG Paints Arena would become even more energized as Crosby would strike again, giving the Pens a 3-2 lead. The Capitals seriously needed to step it up or else this game could tilt dangerously in the Pens’ favor. After 40 minutes, the Caps would end up down 3-2 after allowing three unanswered goals by Pittsburgh.

As previously mentioned, Pittsburgh is a difficult city to play in. But the Caps have been there and done that, most recently evidenced by a second round exorcism of demons during their 2017-18 Championship run. While few actually know what is said in the Capitals’ locker room during intermissions, one can only assume the second intermission break was a less-than-pleasant one. The Capitals came out fighting, and intended on ending the night the same way. However, it was not enough for the reigning Stanley Cup Champions. As expected, Tom Wilson and Erik Gudbranson would eventually cross paths, this time in front of the net. Both would receive matching penalties, so play would end up as 4v4 for two minutes. Neither the Caps nor the Pens would score. Just as the Capitals started to regain steam, they would be called for too-many-men, and the Pens would end right back up on the power play. It is absolutely unbelievable the sheer number of minor penalties the Capitals have been taking recently. For a while, it seemed as though they had that under control, playing more disciplined hockey. But it seems as though this win streak has given the Capitals a false sense of security, and now they are paying for it. Holtby came out a little too far and Phil Kessel would score on the power play, giving the Penguins a 4-2 lead. Pittsburgh would then, albeit late, be called for the same penalty, and the Capitals would get their power play. John Carlson scored his 11th goal of the season, lifting the Caps within one goal, but still trailing 4-3. Ovechkin would be given the primary assist, marking his 1200th point of his career.

With two minutes left, Caps head coach Todd Reirden would elect to pull Braden Holtby in exchange for the extra man. As usual, the plan would backfire, and Pittsburgh would score an empty net goal, sealing the deal for a 5-3 victory over the Capitals. The Caps’ seven-game win streak would be ultimately be snapped, but by a two-point margin, they still hold on to the top spot in the division. The Capitals, Islanders, and Penguins make up the first, second, and third place spots by only two point apiece. The top 5 spots, including the two wildcard spots, are separated by just 8 points total.

FiCP’s Three Takeaways of the Game:

  1. Enough with the turnovers.
  2. Enough with the penalties.
  3. Much of the Caps’ team are having a career-best season.

Braden Holtby and John Carlson Lead Metropolitan Division to All-Star Game Win

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby and defenseman John Carlson were well represented at the NHL All-Star Game in San Jose last week. With coach Todd Reirden at the helm of the Metropolitan Division, the trio contributed to wins over the Atlantic and Central Divisions to win the All-Star Game and split the grand prize of one million dollars. Continue reading “Braden Holtby and John Carlson Lead Metropolitan Division to All-Star Game Win”

The Pregame: Brooks Orpik to Play in 1,000th NHL Game Tonight

When Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik laces his skates, puts on the home red uniform and takes the ice tonight against the St. Louis Blues at Capital One Arena, it would mark doing so for the 1,000th time. Orpik will become the 330th all-time player, 114th defenseman and 22nd active player to play in 1,000 NHL games.  Continue reading “The Pregame: Brooks Orpik to Play in 1,000th NHL Game Tonight”

Alex Ovechkin is on Pace for a Historic Season

Age and daddy time being undefeated doesn’t apply to Alex Ovechkin. Ever since hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup on June 7th, Ovechkin is playing like a weight as big as an 800 pound gorilla is off his shoulder. A lot of people thought Ovi’s numbers were going to regress moving forward once he hit age 30. It looked that way starting out going from 50 goals in 79 games in 2015-16 to just 33 the next season in all 82 games until Ovechkin arrived in great shape prior to last season’s training camp. The summer workouts paid off as Ovechkin came flying out the gates with seven goals in his first two games of that season, including back-to-back hat tricks.  Continue reading “Alex Ovechkin is on Pace for a Historic Season”