NHL Pause: Can it please be over?

March 12, 2020: the day hockey came to an abrupt end with the announcement from the commissioner that he would take a pause as the United States and Canada began to see the spread of the Coronavirus. It was maybe when many of us realized that this was serious and possibly life changing. It was only two weeks ago and yet it seems like forever.

We have seen hockey go on hiatus before with the lockouts. That was about grown men who couldn’t come to agreement (where have we seen that lately). There was uncertainty then too: when would they start, how long would it take, would the game look different, and could the teams (for us the Washington Capitals) be able to quickly rebound. Those are the same questions we are asking today and we have the same, if not greater degree of uncertainty.

What we do know is that we need hockey. There is something healing about hockey and sports in general. It was there after 9/11 to help us cry with New York and give us something to look forward to. It was there in Las Vegas after an unthinkable shooting when the newly minted Vegas Knights stepped in the limelight. Their opening was unlike anything ever seen and a powerful statement about resilience and recovery. And it was there in Florida when Roberto Luango stood as part of the local community, as a parent and said what needed to be said about the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. So yes, we need hockey to help make us feel whole again.

In the meantime, we watch reruns of the Capitals winning the Stanley Cup and that incredible parade after. We cheer again as Alexander Ovechkin scores 700 and 701 points, over and over again. Now we watch simulated games with our own guys announcing the short video game. But it’s getting a little old.

Caps Stanley Cup Parade

What we are really missing is community. Work and schools and religious communities are banding people together over various video chat platforms. It makes us feel connected when we actually see faces. Can we do that in Caps country? Can we virtually connect in a way that will help us all get through? Call some friends- get online and talk Hockey and when you do—be sure to check and see how everything is going. Give them space to talk about their fears and maybe cry about kids being home and unemployment. And bring some laughs in as you talk about hat tricks and amazing saves.

Let’s do community Caps fans. We need it more than ever!

A June Caps Fans will Never Forget

Remember back in May 2018 when the Capitals surpassed previous expectations and entered the final round of the NHL Playoffs? Remember when Caps fans went crazy as their team returned from Las Vegas tied in the series 1-1 to play their first home ice game on June 2nd? Continue reading “A June Caps Fans will Never Forget”

Capitals-Vegas Knights: Stanley Cup History

June 7, 2018

Las Vegas, Nevada

Washington, DC

The Stanley Cup Final

All week we have been watching videos of that perfect night. It was amazing for the Vegas Golden Knights and the Washington Capitals. Continue reading “Capitals-Vegas Knights: Stanley Cup History”

One Year Later – Kuzy and Exorcising the Demons

It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since one of the most memorable, as well as one of the most stress-relieving moments that most Caps fans can remember occurred. “The Save” is up there as well, but the anniversary for that is a month away.

It’s early in the first overtime of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals, Evgeny Kuznetsov is skating straight towards Penguins’ netminder Matt Murray with Pens’ defensemen Brian Dumoulin and Kris Letang a little behind to Kuzy’s left and right.  A moment later after a quick deke, Kuzy deposits the puck between Murray’s pads into Pittsburgh’s net and glides towards and then along the boards. Continue reading “One Year Later – Kuzy and Exorcising the Demons”

A Capitals Fan’s Guide to Who to Root For in the Playoffs

The Capitals are out of the Stanley Cup playoffs too early (again), but that doesn’t mean that Caps fans no longer have a reason to pay attention to the rest of the playoffs.  Some of the reasons are emotional (teams and fanbases that we just don’t want to see win and some that we do) and some are strategic (draft position), so let’s get to it.

Boston vs. Columbus

Let’s be realistic. No one outside of New England wants to see Boston win another title, especially with championships in the two most recent major league sports (Red Sox in the World Series and Patriots in the Super Bowl). Besides, they won a Cup in 2011 (too soon) and that would leave the Caps as the only Cup winner in the decade without multiple Cups.

While the Blue Jackets are a rival, they have a fanbase that has not had a lot to enjoy, so seeing a city and fanbase that has no other pro sports teams (though the Ohio State University football program arguably qualifies), I would not have an issue with their city getting to enjoy a title. Columbus sacrificed a lot of their future at the trade deadline so their future is not as bright. Besides, they have one of the best hockey bars around (the R-Bar near Nationwide Arena).

Strategically, if the Blue Jackets advance to the Eastern Conference Final, their first round draft pick (owned by Ottawa in the Duchesne trade) drops to one of the bottom four picks.  This moves the Caps’ pick draft up a spot in the first round.

Carolina vs. Islanders

I’m glad this round is over because it was a no-win situation. Allowing Trotz to leave was going to look and feel worse if the Islanders advanced. Seeing the “bunch of jerks” and their late to the party fanbase advance isn’t exactly a joy either, but at least with Carolina advancing to the Eastern Conference Final, their draft position in the first round has dropped to the bottom four in the first round, so that does benefit the Caps.

Dallas vs. St. Louis

If Dallas advances, one of the second round draft picks that Dallas traded to the New York Rangers for Mats Zuccarello becomes a first rounder and we don’t want to see that happen.  As a Caps fan, I never want to see anything that benefits the Rangers, especially since they will select second overall in the upcoming draft thanks to the draft lottery   and they are doing a pretty good job with their rebuild in a short period of time.

St. Louis is the only remaining (and existing) team from the 1967 expansion to not win the Cup. It probably wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for them to win one. Besides, they went to the Final the first three seasons in the post-1967 expansion NHL, were swept all three times, and haven’t been back since. It may be about time.

San Jose vs. Colorado

San Jose is the equivalent of the Caps in the Western Conference in terms of always doing well in the regular season and always falling short in the playoffs (at least until last season for the Caps). Their core is getting older, Joe Thornton is getting close to retirement, and their pain needs to end sometime. The San Francisco Bay Area has done pretty well with the Golden State Warriors and San Francisco Giants each winning multiple titles this decade, so that works against any sympathy for that area’s fanbase, but they will likely be getting worse before they get better and this may be their last good chance at a title.

Colorado is a feel good story after the horrific seasons that they have endured recently and there is a certain German goaltender that most people in the DMV still have a fondness for, but Colorado still has two Cups, including one during the Avalanche’s first season after relocating from Quebec, which edges this one towards the team with no Cups.  Besides, Colorado is young, talented, has the 4th overall pick in the upcoming draft (thanks to Ottawa), and should only be getting better.

Enjoy (or at least try) to enjoy some great hockey over the next month.

Capitals Excerpts from 31 Thoughts

Each week during the regular season and about once per round during the playoffs, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman writes his popular 31 Thoughts column.  In the current column, two of the thoughts (numbers 20 and 21) were about the Capitals. Continue reading “Capitals Excerpts from 31 Thoughts”

We’ve Never Been Here Before: Capitals Game One Round One Playoffs

We have never been here before.

Round One as the NHL Stanley Cup Defending Champions, not just the Washington Capitals.

It feels different. We want to win like we did last summer. We have the taste of victory. Continue reading “We’ve Never Been Here Before: Capitals Game One Round One Playoffs”

Capitals downgrade Hurricanes 3-2, Clinch 11th Playoff Berth in 12 Seasons

TLDR: Goals by Brett Connolly, Jakub Vrana, and Nic Dowd lift the Capitals over the Carolina Hurricanes, guaranteeing a post-season appearance, and earn 100 points for the 5th consecutive season.


Tonight, the Washington Capitals hoped to clinch their playoff berth. A win tonight would also allow the Capitals to reach the 100 point mark for the 5th consecutive season.  With a win, or an overtime Caps’ loss and the Canadiens/Blue Jackets’ game being decided in regulation, Washington would snag a playoff spot with four games remaining. Having won all 3 previous match-ups with Carolina, a win tonight would mean another regular season series sweep.


T.J. Oshie did not dress for tonights’ match-up, and therefore Andre Burakovsky would be entrusted with the second line right-winger spot. Paired with Carl Hagelin and Jakub Vrana, one could just call that second line the ‘speedy second’. Just four minutes into the first period, Nino Neiderreiter scored his 22nd goal of the season, giving the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead. Shortly thereafter, Brett Connolly would tie it, as he also scored his 22nd of the season.

Once Connolly scored the equalizer, the Hurricanes gave the Caps very little room to operate. The combined speed and shot generation from Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen of the Canes gave the good guys some trouble, but Caps’ goaltender Braden Holtby was able to keep them off the board in the first. With no power plays to speak of, the Caps and Canes headed into the intermission tied 1-1.


In the second period, we hoped the Capitals would tighten up, especially in front of the goal. Carolina had way too many good looks from the point, and with eight players with 15 or more goals, it’s only a matter of time until they score. The Capitals played a much more dominating period. A Canes 2-on-1 was thwarted by a beautiful save by Holtby half-way through the period. Warren Foegle would give the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead as Carolina tied up defenseman Nick Jensen and drew Holtby out of the net. It was apparent that the Capitals were not playing as carefully as they had on Tuesday. If the Caps want to get out of PNC Arena with a win, they will need to eliminate the turnovers. The Capitals would receive the first power play of the night, as Alex Ovechkin was tripped up by former Cap Justin Williams. Unfortunately, the Capitals were unable to tie it up with the man-advantage. Carolina would lead 2-1, as the second period came to a close.


Through two period, shots on goal heavily favored Carolina once the Caps scored their single goal. The Hurricanes played like they needed the two points. The Capitals could seal their playoff spot with at least one point, but a win would certainly be preferable. Jakub Vrana tied the game 2-2, tallying his 23rd goal of the season, just 120 seconds into the final frame.

Nic Dowd would give the Capitals their first lead of the game, off a deflection right in front of McElhinney. Figurative and literal redemption for Nick Jensen, who would be credited with the primary assist. The goal would be the game-winner.

Moments later, however, the Hurricanes would get their first power play of the night, as Brooks Orpik would go off for tripping. The Capitals would successfully kill of the penalty. Despite the Canes’ head coach Rod Brind’amour electing to lift netminder Curtis McElhinney, the Capitals would sweep another regular season series, winning in Raleigh 3-2.


FiCP’s Three Takeaways of the Game

  1. The Capitals now are guaranteed a chance to repeat.
  2. Overall, the defense is improving.
  3. Braden Holtby is playoff ready.

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!!

Beware, Blue Jackets pick up Matt Duchene

This morning, the Columbus Blue Jackets announced that they have traded Vitali AbramovJonathan Davidsson, and two conditional 1st-round draft picks (2019/2020) in exchange for the Ottawa Senators’ top center Matt Duchene and Julius Bergman. While this isn’t necessarily Caps news, it is something to be aware of. Columbus is going all-in. We could potentially have a round-two with them and their newly acquired fire power.

Formerly drafted by the Colorado Avalanche, Duchene blew up in his early years as an incredible playmaker. With other stars like their captain Gabriel Landeskog and the “fastest-skater-with-the-puck” Nathan MacKinnon taking over as the face of the Avs, they were pretty stacked at the time and pushed Duchene to the backseat. He eventually went through a rough patch with the club and decided to request a trade. He got what he wished for and was traded to Ottawa. The Senators have been a struggling team for quite a while now, especially this year, placing dead last in the Eastern Conference. In hopes of getting a hold of some young stars, they put Duchene up for grabs and the Blue Jackets were happy to scoop him up.

img_6357Photo Credit: Isiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports

Columbus has been a thorn in the Capitals’ side for the past few years and solidified the rivalry after mocking Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s bird celebration after their first 2018-2019 regular season win over the team. If these two clubs meet in the post-season, the Caps must be aware of Duchene’s talent he adds to Columbus’ scoring abilities. Fast skater, quick hands, and some incredible hand-eye coordination; definitely a player to watch out for.

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Photo Credit: Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire

Columbus now has a pretty stacked center core. They have Pierre-Luc Dubois, Alexander Wennberg, Riley Nash, Boone Jenner (flex), Brandon Dubinsky, Lukas Sedlak, and now Matt Duchene. My guess is  that Sedlak is scratched to fit Duchene in their lineup. Down the middle would be Dubois-Duchene-Wennberg-Dubinsky, Jenner is currently on the wing so he’ll probably stay put. They’re going to be a huge threat in the playoffs.