The 2019 Armed Forces Hockey Classic

Don’t have much going on over Memorial Weekend? Feel like watching hockey being played for a good cause for FREE?

“The Armed Forces Hockey Classic (AFHC) is a tournament where military veterans the Army, Air Force, Marines and Navy come together to compete against one another while raising money for the United Heroes League (UHL). The UHL wants to ensure that all 5 million military kids are able to develop critical life skills through sports. This intense focus on youth development and serving the families of our military service members motivates the UHL to keep programs focused. This focus has inspired 115 professional athletes and over 30 professional sports franchises to lend their name and support to the UHL.”

The Washington Capitals have supported the UHL since their start in 2009 along with many other franchises, like the Minnesota Vikings and the Los Angeles Kings. Players/coaches who have contributed to this cause have been Nicklas Backstrom, Karl Alzner, Bruce Boudreau, Taylor Chorney, Matt Hendricks, Nate Schmidt, and many others!

This event is being held just outside of Dallas, Texas in North Richland Hills. Veterans, local and country-wide, are gathering there to play the greatest sport for an excellent cause. Coordinators have stated that they have received donations and incoming participants from places like Alaska, Colorado and even the DMV! The winning team of the tournament will get to hoist the James “Maggie” Megellas Championship Trophy. Who knows, you may see someone you’ll recognize!

2010 AFHC Champions – Team Navy/Marine Corp.

The tournament will begin May 25 @ 10:00 am EDT, first puck drop @ 10:15 am. All games will be live-streamed via Facebook here. For more information on the AFHC and the UHL, click here. Have a wonderful weekend!

Capitals Practice: Sunday Photos

The Capitals were on the ice at Kettler late Sunday morning following a big win over the Sabres on Saturday night (5-1). Everyone was there, at least at the start of practice.

Tom Wilson came out. Skated around a bit. Hit a few pucks at our photographer Brittney. Skated off. Came back and talked to the trainer and left again after about three minutes. Coach said later it was a ‘maintenance thing ‘ for him and he was fine. We aren’t as convinced as he sure looked like something was bothering him. Let hope he is in for practice at Nationwide Arena on Monday.

We had a chance to watch Michal Kempny with John Carlson- a likely pairing for future games.

Moving toward Monday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Trotz said Jakub Jerabek is still on hold pending resolution of a visa issue.

Taylor Chorney is likely to make his debut Monday in a CBJ sweater.

Lines during practice today do not necessarily mean same lines on Monday…

Forwards

Ovechkin-Backstrom-Wilson/Vrana

Connolly-Kuznetsov-Oshie

Stephenson-Eller-Burakovsky

DSP-Beagle-Chiasson

Defense

Orlov-Niskanen

Kempny-Carlson

Orpik-Djoos

Jerabek-Bowey

 

The guys were in visibly good moods today, it was great to see them all smiling.

There are just too many good ones not to share..

Caps and Their Defense Gap

Now that we know Nate Schmidt won’t be on the Caps roster next season, we are left wondering what the defense might look like. Additionally, we can assume with a high degree of confidence, that Karl Alzner won’t be back either.We have read that he is exploring his options as well.

Who is left then?

Dmitry Orlovplayoffs126 still needs to sign a new agreement with the Capitals. Coach Trotz usually speaks positively about Dima and seems to have great hopes in his improving abilities. Orlov now has two full seasons in the NHL from which we can gather information. From a scoring perspective, he has increased his assists by six, although he had two fewer goals. In the past season, he ranks fifth in the league and second on the Caps roster with a plus 30, and 10th on the Caps with 33 points. He is also credited as the Caps player who most contributed to scoring opportunities, (defensive point shares/DPS). We see a lot of potential in the 26 year old (his birthday is Friday).

Brooks Orpik: watermarked192017-03-06-1112There has certainly been a lot of discussion on social media over the pros and cons of Orpik, who turns 37 in September. Oprik loves a physical defensive play which can often send him to the box. Last season he spent 48 minutes in the box. He averaged 17.47 minutes on the ice per game—among the lowest time for defensemen on the team. He blocked 132 shots, second only to Karl Alzner. With 181 hits, he was more physical than any D-men—only Tom Wilson and Alex Ovechkin had more hits. He ended the year with a plus 32, highest on the team. He too ranks high on contributing to the scoring advantage, although many fans see him providing more opportunities to opponents.  The Caps said there would be no buyouts, which likely means Brooks is here to stay. It just isn’t clear to us that he will continue as s a top defenseman, given his history of injury and his age. Read more on Orpik here.

Matt Niskanen: img_8640Another player fans love to hate. He joined the Caps in the 2014/15 season, like Oprik he came from Pittsburgh. Like a fine wine, his scoring just gets better every year. Should Orlvo return, it is likely that he will be paired with him once again. He surpassed Karl Alzner and John Carlson in defensive point shares, and as a whole for the season, had more time on ice then Carlson. He is under contract through the 2020 season and we don’t see him going anywhere. At 31, he still has a good career ahead of him.

John Carlson: John has been playing for the Caps since he was 20–he turns 28 in January. He missed a fair amount of the 2015/16 season with an injury and was out for some of the past season as well. Since his 2015 injury, he has not seemed to play as aggressively as he once did. Coach Trotz has tried some different pairing with him, returning to the best mix of John and Alzner. That, of course is off the table now. When he shoots, it is a power puck that flies. This past season he recorded 28 assists, sixth on the team and eighth in overall points (37). His plus/minus dropped to seven and his power play assists have stayed pretty static at 13. He becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. He will really need to step it up this year if he wants to ensure a spot on the roster come 2018.

That brings us to some of the question marks we have about next season. Who will possibly fill in the holes left by Alzner and Schmidt? What if Orlov isn’t signed?

Taylor Chorney: Taylor didn’t see that much ice time last season, playing in only 18 regular season games and seven playoff games. He previously filled in when Carlson and Orpik were out with their injuries. Some have suggested that the coach team him with either Madison Bowey or Christian Djoos, should they become part of the NHL roster. He has one more year left on his contract, and hopefully, if given more ice time he will be able to fill the Schmidt gap. He has one more year on his contract.

Madison Bowey: Bowey has been with the Hershey Bears for two seasons. He has always been impressive during development camp and this could be his standout summer. He was out much of last season with a broken ankle but all indications are he is ready to go. A/GM Mahoney recently said that Bowey is one of two players ready for the NHL (Jakub Vrana was the other).GMBM is looking for some young blood to add to the line up and the 22 year old could fit the bill. He notched four points in the AHL playoffs, including scoring the game winning overtime goal in game five of the Atlantic Division finals. We are optimistic that he would be a compliment to the Caps blue line.

Christian Djoos: The Caps signed him to a two-year $1.3 million contract today. The first year will be a two-way followed by a one-way contract in the 2018 season. It’s a $650,000 cap hit for those of you calculating. The Caps like their Swedes!! That means he should be seeing some NHL time this season. If this isn’t his year to join the Caps, it could be a year of transitioning him into a slot for 2018 and beyond. He has demonstrated his skill at the AHL level and will have the chance to prove himself during camp. They will likely be looking at his speed and ability to protect the puck.

Aaron Ness: We’ve seen glimmers of Ness in the NHL–10 with the Caps. He has been with the Bears since the 2015 season with 44 points – 33 of those assists. He currently has one year left on his contract with a $612,500 cap hit. We are not big fans of Aaron and look forward to see how he does at camp. Don’t think he will be what the Caps need to fill the Alzner/Schmidt gap.

Kevin Shattenkirk: wm-11To keep Shatt would be costly for the Caps. When he came he had one year left on a 4 year / $17,000,000 contract with the St Louis Blues and a cap hit of $4,250,000. He only played 19 games and we ran hot and cold with his performance. It is unlikely the Caps will sign him. he ended with 14 points and even to game winning goals. But we saw nothing notable in the playoffs. Rumor has it the NY Rangers might be interested or he could ultimately end up in Vegas as part of a trade.

It is important that the Caps have a strong blue line presence that can give Braden Holtby added protection. Fan expectation is to have more aggressive scoring defensemen. As the management team gets about filling the gaps this summer, our hope is they will bring forward some new blood with the same desire to win that Schmidt and Alzner had. The Caps shouldn’t have far to look, although a trade isn’t out of the question either.

Caps Giving Continues with Seth & TAPS

Following practice today many of the players stayed after to skate with seven year old Seth Parrish from TAPS–the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors–and organization which provides care for the families of America’s fallen heroes. Seth started his morning meeting TJ Oshie and then donned his jersey to skate with the players.

Seth started his skate experience with Braden Holtby and TJ. We’re pretty sure he was running things at that end of the rink.

From there he had some three-on-one with the likes of Jay Beagle, Jakub Vrana, and Tom Wilson. Zach Sanford got in on some of the fun too.

Clearly,Tom Wilson was loving today as he, and later Taylor Chorney, spent the most time with young Seth. At one point Seth ‘knocked’ over Wilson and nonchalantly skated around Tom as he lay on the ice.

Chorney and Wilson stayed on the ice until Seth was finally ready to go. Tom tried to change sticks with him, but Seth was having none of it. Seth took a couple of breaks on the ice – first to make snow angels and then to rest in the back of the net. Tom kept asking if he was getting tired and Seth would just get up and go again. It was the cutest thing ever!!

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Eventually, Tom and Taylor convinced Seth to help them clean up the pucks and he headed off the ice with Wilson. We aren’t sure which of the three was more exhausted. All we know is they all had big smiles when they left!!

Here’s more about Seth from ABC7:

http://wjla.com/news/local/capitals-surprise-7-year-old-boy-who-lost-military-dad

If you would like to know more about TAPS and how you can contribute to the families who have given so much for us, please click here. The Caps will host TAPS later this week for their annual skate with the players, another wonderful part of their outreach program.
Here are a couple more videos from Seth’s time with the Caps.

 

 

 

The Caps Blow into the Windy City

The Washington Capitals suffered a crushing 3-0  defeat to the San Jose Sharks on election night. The Caps ended their five-game winning streak as goalie Martin Jones stopped 24 pucks from getting into the net. Braden Holtby had 20 saves. Seemed no matter how snazy they were, the Caps just couldn’t find the back of the net. The story line here is the Caps were out-defended by the Sharks.

Here’s the media buzz for tonight:

So what does that mean for Chicago? Well…they have seven wins in a row. Could they be prime for a loss??? Fox Sports says four of those wins were one-goal games. If the Caps can get and keep the lead, they have a chance of stopping the forward progression of the the Hawks.

Comcast Sports says its a “goalie clash.” Yea, Corey Crawford is always a problem – we agree.

Patrick Kane is playing pretty hot right now.

Chicago Tribune writes their threats are likely Alex Ovechkin and TJ Oshie while “Marian Hossa has four goals in his last four games.”

Locally, Mike Vogel writes: “Three nights after tasting defeat at the hands of the Sharks, the Caps head into the lion’s den in Chicago. They’ll be facing arguably the league’s most consistently elite team over the last several years in the Blackhawks, and they’ll be doing so in front of a packed Friday night house at United Center.”

We think Kuzy said it best: “Of course we have to play better, but the coaches help plan,” center Evgeny Kuznetsov said, according to the Washington Post. “We’re trying to stay with that plan, but sometimes we did wrong. We have to fix it a little bit, some small areas. I think at some point, the pucks are going in for sure. We just have to be close to each other and maybe use the small areas a little bit and make more shots.”

Late word is that Taylor Chorney is in tonight, finally. Nate Schmidt is a healthy scratch. Here are your Caps lines for tonight according to Isabelle Khurshudyan Washington Post:

Forwards

Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Tom Wilson

Andre Burakovsky-Lars Eller-Justin Williams

Zach Sanford-Jay Beagle-Daniel Winnik

Defensemen

Karl Alzner-Matt Niskanen

Dmitry Orlov-John Carlson

Brooks Orpik-Taylor Chorney

Goaltenders

Braden Holtby (starter)

Philipp Grubauer

Scratches
Brett Connolly

Nate Schmidt

Caps Bring Chorney Back to the Blue Line

Taylor Chorney has been the go-to guy for wounded defensemen all season. He played 55 games in his first season on the Capitals roster. During that time he earned the respect of his teammates and of his coach. They liked him enough to give him a two-year contact. Chorney plays hard whenever he is on the ice. He spent 21 minutes in the penalty box and started his first playoff game in the same place. We’ll see how long he is in the lineup–we kind of hope that Orpik will be back sooner than later but we’re glad the Caps have a guy like Taylor who is ready to jump in.DSC_0455

Hockey 101: The Defensemen

Washington Capitals Defensemen

44 – Brooks Orpik     74 – John Carlson

27 – Karl Alzner           2 – Matt Niskanen

88 – Nate Schmidt      9 – Dmitry  Orlov

Reserves
4- Taylor Chorney
6 – Mike Weber

Welcome to the first in a series of articles explaining the different positions on a hockey team and what their role is. First up, the defensemen.

Being a great defensemen isn’t about shots or hits but the entire package. Defense typically is for grinders and fighters, those whose primary objective is to prevent the other team from scoring.

What is a Defensemen?

They are often referred to as defensemen or blueliners, the latter a reference to the blue line in ice hockey which represents the boundary of the offensive zone. Defensemen generally position themselves along the line to keep the puck in the zone. A good defenseman is both strong in defensive and offensive play while also defending and attacking.

What is their job in regulation play? Shorthanded? Overtime?

In regulation play, two defensemen complement three forwards (left winger, center, right winger) and a goaltender on the ice. Exceptions include overtime during the regular season and when a team is shorthanded (i.e. has been assessed a penalty), in which two defensemen are typically joined by only two forwards and a goaltender. In NHL play in overtime effective this season, the teams have only three position players and a goaltender on the ice and may use either two forwards and one defenseman (typically), or conversely, two defensemen and one forward.

Offensive Zone Play

In the offensive zone, the defense plays the blue line. It is their duty to keep the puck in the offensive zone by stopping the puck from crossing over the blue line. Passing the puck quickly is key to opening up shooting lanes or taking the shot themselves if the lane becomes open. Because defenseman are expected to shoot at the opposing net from long range, they usually develop some of the hardest and most accurate slapshots in the NHL.

During a power play, the defensive player can set up at the point and distribute the puck to the teammate he feels is in the best position to score, similar to the point guard in basketball or quarterback in American football.

Defensive Zone Play

When in the defensive zone, the defense is responsible for keeping the opposing team forwards opportunities to a minimum when they are on a rush, forcing them to the corners and blocking both passing and shooting lanes. When the opposing offense puts pressure on the defense, the skater usually plays closer to the net, attempting to block shooting lanes but also ensure the goalie is not screened so he can see the puck. It is especially critical to clear any rebounds away from the goal towards a teammate.

Neutral Zone Play

In this area, the defense tends to hang back towards their own blue line, usually playing the puck up to another teammate. This is where the defense joins the rush but should not lead it.

What award is given to the NHL’s best defenseman?

Each year the NHL presents the James Norris Memorial Trophy to the best defenseman in the league. Bobby Orr of the Boston Bruins—an eight-time Norris Trophy recipient— is often considered to be the greatest defenseman in NHL history. In addition to his Norris Trophy honors, he is the only defenseman in NHL history to capture the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer. In 1998, Orr was selected as the best defenseman of all-time (second overall player behind Wayne Gretzky) in The Hockey News’ Top 100 NHL Players of all-time. Niklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings is second to Orr with 7 James Norris Trophy’s.

 

 

Shifting the Caps Defense When Orpik Returns

Brooks Orpik looks like he is getting closer to returning to the Caps lineup. He has been skating with trainers before Caps practice and occasionally with the team. And now he is on the three-game road trip. Could his return be eminent? What will it mean for the D-lines when he is back? Does that mean that someone goes?

We present a descriptive stat comparison for this article. The data was pulled from war-on-ice, ESPN, and the NHL for the 2015-16 season only. Our goal is to provide our perspective on who contributes the most as a defenseman. Some place more value on points (goals especially) while others are interested in how the D helps protect the team and provides scoring chances. More than just scoring goals, their primary job is to defend and provide a layer of protection in front of the net. So we tried to consider a combination of stats as we ranked the defensemen, which you can ultimately shape however you like! This is our take:

John Carlson has had his own experience with injury. He has not been skating up to his pre-injury self—he hasn’t scored since his return. Despite missing 12 games, he leads the D-men in points, goals, and assists. Carlson is part of the power play line and plays a critical role in creating scoring chances.

Karl Alzner is one of the most consistent players on the team. The Iron Man leads the team in blocked shots and holds the Caps’ record for consecutive games played. Karl is one of the most positive influences on the team, something they will need as they head to the final stretch.

Matt Niskanen had a ‘surprise’ goal against the Flyers—his third for the season. He is tied with Alzner for +/- rating of 16 and second on the team for blocked shots at 96. And he is second behind Orlov in takeaways. We would place him third behind Alzner as most valuable defenseman to the team.

Dmitry Orlov is back this year, after recovering from a broken wrist. In his last five games he has had a goal and an assist. He is having a pretty good year. Dima is third in overall defensemen points but his shot percentage is low at 1.1. He is second only to Carlson in goals (5) and tied with Carly for goals scored in 60 minutes.

Nate Schmidt makes everyone smile. He ranks on par with Niskanen for goals scored in 60 minutes of play and is ranks fourth for defensemen in blocked shots. He has a decent +/- rating of 9 and his number of takeaways are higher than both Alzner and Carly. All in all, Nate is another positive influence on the team. He is performing better than Chorney and about middle of the road in our overall ranking of Caps defensemen.

Taylor Chorney gives the team depth, although he has yet to hit the back of the net this season. He has done a respectable job filling in for the ailing Orpik; however, he has the lowest team stats in every area except blocked shots.

The beauty of all this is that the Caps have a great advantage. They have a D in reserve. Should any of these players face an injury, or a slump, there is someone that can fill the gap. It is likely that, if the cap allows, they can keep all seven defensemen and have the depth they need to secure the run for the cup.

The Stats

GP Points Goals Assists +/- Shot % G60 TK BS
Alzner 51 17 3 14 16 6.5 .17 15 131
Carlson 39 27 6 21 4 6.3 .38 15 84
Chorney 42 5 0 5 12 0 .00 7 42
Niskanen 51 23 3 20 16 3.1 .14 25 96
Orlov 51 19 5 14 11 1.1 .38 28 32
Orpik 14 3 1 2 -1 8.3 .22 2 27
Schmidt 46 12 2 10 9 3.5 .14 21 76

Glossary:

BS Blocked shots pose an extra problem: they’re shots that have been recorded at the point at which they’ve been blocked

GP Games played

G60 Goals scored by the individual, per 60 minutes

S%  Shot percentage represents the percentage of shots on net that result in a goal.

TK are takeaways.

+/-   Plus/minus rating depicts the number of goals for the home team (+), and number of goals against (-) a player is on the ice for.

Resources

www.waronice.com

www.espn.com

www.nhl.com

 Photos by Brittney Marcum

Caps-Islanders Photo Gallery

Welcome to our first official gallery post! We have so many wonderful photos that are going to waste so we thought you might enjoy the opportunity to see them!

We are so excited to share and if you have a specific player you would like to see more of please let us know and we will do our best to cater to you. Also, feel free to use any of our photos, we just ask that you give credit or leave our watermark in the bottom.

Photos by: Brittney Marcum and Mel Abernethy

Without further ado:

IMG_8440

The boys wore special camo jersey’s for warm-ups to support USO Metro and Defending the Blue Line