From Europe to Russia with Stanley Cup Love

The Keeper traveled with the Stanley Cup through Sweden and Germany before a few days with fans in Russia this past week. Click the highlighted links for the full story and pictures of the Stanley Cup Journey! Continue reading “From Europe to Russia with Stanley Cup Love”

Christian Djoos Keeps Date with Lord Stanley

Christian Djoos has been on the minds of many Caps fans this summer. He played 63 games in his debut season with the Capitals and accrued 14 points (3 goals and 11 assists). The future looks bright for the return of this Swede from Nick Backstrom’s hometown of Gavle.

It only made sense the two would share a day together with the Cup when it was passed on from Andre Burakovsky. Backstrom had plenty of time on his own with the glorious trophy.

Djoos joined Backstrom on Saturday at Gavelrinken Arena to meet with hockey fans who travels brought them to the Stanley Cup. They posed, awkwardly at times, with fans and later signed some autographs.

Like Nick, Christian had his personal time with those closest to him. His father Per played for the Brynas Club and passed that tradition to his son.

Another thing you will notice are the AWESOME “DJ Oos” t-shirts all of the boys donned for the special day!

It was a proud day for this beautiful town to celebrate two of their youth hockey players.

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The Cup has been packed safely away by Nicky and heads to Deutschland and goaltender Philipp Grubauer.

Read more about Djoos here and here!

Nick Backstrom Days of Stanley Cup

June 7, Nicklas Backstrom took the Stanley Cup from the hands of Alex Ovechkin and held it over his head for the first time. On August 10 he again lifted the shiny trophy, this time in his homeland of Sweden.

Even before Nicky began the celebrations with the Cup, he was busy meeting fans around Gavle, where his family lives and he learned a love for the sport of hockey. Fans were excited just to meet their hometown legend. Continue reading “Nick Backstrom Days of Stanley Cup”

A Swede Moment for Andre Burakovsky with Lord Stanley

Wednesday night Andre Burakovsky was in Copenhagen with teammate Lars Eller–eyeballing the Stanley Cup as Lars celebration wound down. Burky, who skated in 13 playoff games and scored two goals with an additional four assists, finally received the Stanley Cup at  his home in Malmö, Sweden. It was Lord Stanley’s first visit to Malmö!

Malmö is where Andre grew up. Although he was born in Austria, Sweden is home to the Burakovsky family. His father Robert once played for the Ottawa Senators, which makes bringing the Stanley Cup home a even more special accomplishment for the family.

Continue reading “A Swede Moment for Andre Burakovsky with Lord Stanley”

Hershey Spotlight: Jakub Vrana

Yeah yeah we know what you’re thinking about this spotlight “but he plays for the Caps.” Well that is true- but what is also true is that Jakub is on an entry-level contract from when he was drafted in 2014. If you do the math you would think his contract were up already, the  reason it isn’t is something called an entry-level slide.

This term refers to what happens to an ELC when a player has not played at least 10 games in the NHL in a season. The contract will then “slide” each season until this occurs. Jakub did not do that until the 2016-17 season which means his contract is good through the 2018-19 season. If the Caps do not ink a new deal before his contract expires he will become a restricted free agent and will also be ineligible for arbitration for another two seasons.

You all know how incredible Jakub Vrana is- from his play on the ice to his partying in the streets of DC. But just how good is he? And where did he come from?

Jakub was born in the Czech Republic in 1996 (22 years old) where he played for the majority of his early career prior to being drafted. He also put in a few years in the Swedish League from 2012-2014 with Linkopings HC where he earned the titles “Most Goals by a Junior” and “Most Points by a Junior” in his final season. He came to Hershey late in the 2014-15 season and played only three regular season games and 10 Calder Cup games. In those 10 games he scored two goals and four assists; impressive for a player straight off the plane from the Playoffs in Sweden. Jakub only lasted in Hershey for one full season (2015-16) before being snagged by the Capitals. In that season he made every single one of his 36 games played that season count (16 Goals, 18 Assists).

The numbers speak for themselves when it comes to Jakub Vrana. We told everyone we knew from the beginning that this kid was something special and that he as going to break out… and break out he did. His AHL totals are at 88 games, 35 goals, and 40 assists. He has played 94 games in the NHL regular season and has 33 points in the regular season, but has also played 23 Stanley Cup Games and scored a total of three goals and eight assists in the quest for this years Stanley Cup… which they WON!!!! Sorry not sorry for the #ALLCAPS…

Needless to say Jakub’s game is continuously developing and his moves are as slick as they come. Jakub reminds us A LOT of a young Ovechkin and we see his speed and sneaky shots taking him far in this league. We hope Vrana has the stamina to make it many years in the NHL and we get to see him flourish with the Capitals for seasons to come.

Read our other stories too:

Djoos

Bourque

Barber

Johansen

Boyd

Hobbs

Its Yours Birthday: Happy Birthday MoJ0

Marcus Johansson turns 26 today!!! The Swede from Landskorna signed a new three-year contract with the Washington Capitals in July 2016. Unfortunately his birthday celebration is somewhat overshadowed by an injury he sustained October 2nd in a preseason game against the Islanders. CBS Sports reports that the left-winger should be good to go come opening night. Continue reading “Its Yours Birthday: Happy Birthday MoJ0”

Andre Burakovsky: The Third Sweet Swede

Burkie

Andre Burakovsky had what many consider a break-out year in the 2015-16 season. It wasn’t clear at the beginning exactly where he would fit in the lineup but Coach Trotz made it clear that he believed in the Caps youngest player and his ability to fit in where ever needed. He played 79 games and ended the season with 38 points (17 goals and 21 assists).

Andre had a bit of a scoring streak starting in late January 2016, recording a goal or more a night for five consecutive games. In 10 games, he notched a point for all but one of those games. Most often he was assisted by Evgeny Kuznetsov. He closed out the season in the ninth spot for overall points- not too shabby for his second year in the NHL.

Personally, we think Burkie’s success began when we first captured this little image of Andre and Tom Wilson on January 17th. It quickly became a ‘thing’ as they posed for us  at home games and fans began to take notice. We think it may have evolved into a pre-game superstition for Burakovsky as he patiently  waited for Tom to skate over for some  hand-holding  because this is when the streak started.

And who could forget the hilarity of a certain broadcasters pronunciation of his last name? It led to lots of friendly tweets for Bear-akovsky fans.

As the youngest player on the team, Burky became one of the favorite players for our lady friends! We saw signs proposing to him. We saw signs asking for pucks. We saw people waiting in the rain outside of Kettler to get his autograph. And always we saw how gracious and friendly his is. He never hesitated to stop for a fan. Even as other players were dodging fans during the playoffs, Andre was out there smiling and posing–even if it meant some ‘interesting’ poses!

We wish Andre the best in the coming season. He has an opportunity to grow more and increase his scoring ability. He is spending the summer in Sweden with friends and family, but also conditioning for the coming year. Another year older – another year wiser!!

“B” is for Backstrom (2016 in photos)

jersey backy

Nicklas Backstrom had a rough start to the 2015-16 season and a few health issues throughout the year. Following the end of the 2014/15 season, Nicky had arthroscopic surgery on  his hip, according to the Washington Capitals. Although the Caps predicted that he would be back at the start of the season, he did not play until 17 October 2015. Backstrom suffered an “upper-body” injury December 31st. Then in April he was again sidelined him for an “upper-body” injury for three games. There was some fear that he might miss the playoffs; however, he rallied enough to come back scoring 11 points before the Caps Cup run would end.

Nicky made it to the All Star Game for the first time. He, Kuzy, and Hotby looked like they had a blast. According to the Washington Post, Coach Barry Trotz lobbied for his invite.

The 28-year old Swede lives in Arlington with his girlfriend Liza and their beautiful daughter Haley. He signed a 10-year contract of which he has four years left. We can expect to continue to see more great stuff from Backy – the humble star center of the Caps. That said, there is some concern with the number of injuries he endured last season. He has been conditioning all summer with his trainer in Sweden.

He is dedicated to winning the Stanley Cup for Washington. As CSN reported following the Caps loss to Pittsburgh, he had this to say about Caps Fans and winning: “I love them,” Backstrom said. “I love Washington fans. They’re absolutely the best fans in the world. Even if we disappoint them, hopefully they have faith in us. I know we’re gonna do it. We’re gonna do it one day. I promise them.”

We know that Backstrom will give it his all in the 2016/17 season. His dedication and work ethic are one of the things his teammates admire and respect about him. As the center for Ovi and Oshie, he is a powerful asset to team. The quiet Swede will also participate in the World Cup of Hockey in September/October 2016.

The future looks good for next year, if he can put these injuries behind him!

 

Baby Swede All Grown Up

That “bear’ of a Swede, Andre Burakovsky, who turned 21 this past week, started his professional hockey career at the age of 16. He played for the Malmö Red Hawks of Hockey Allsvenskan, Sweden’s second league. In 2012 he was a point per game scorer for the clubs U20 team.

Burt, as Coach Trotz calls him, was invited to Caps training camp in 2013. He signed a three-year entry level contract that September. Spending time in the ECHL (East Coast Hockey League) and World Jr Championships, Burt had 41 goals and 46 assists in 57 games with the Erie Otters. And he recorded 10 goals and three assists in the World Juniors where Sweden lost to Finland in OT, leaving Sweden with the Silver.

Caps training camp once again took place in September 2014, where Andre made the opening night roster and collected his first NHL goal against the Montreal Canadiens.  He split time with the Caps (53 games) and the team’s AHL affiliate Hershey Bears (13 games) during the 2014-2015 season, having several ups and downs–not uncommon for a 19-year old at the NHL level.

This season found Burkie struggling a bit through the first half and finding himself promoted to the second line alongside veteran Justin Williams and stunning Evgeny Kuznetsov. He has had 12 points in the last 11 games. The more comfortable Burt gets with his role on the Caps team, the more he seems to be able to produce. Weather he is getting the puck up the wall to Kuzy and reading the play to be at the right place when Kuzy’s pass is coming; or keeping pressure on the opposing team in their end and shooting more, Burakovsky gives the Capitals a dynamic scoring capability to keep whatever line he is on scoring through post season.

By Mel Abernethy

Photos by Mel Abernethy and Brittney Marcum