Game Day: Capitals in Toronto

According to Caps Today, the Capitals face the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday in the third and final meeting between the teams this season. Washington holds a 73-57-10-6 record against Toronto all-time. Last time the teams met it was during the Caps long losing streak. Hopefully they will show the Leafs that they have turned a corner! Game time is 7 pm and will air locally on NBC Sports Washington.


The Toronto Sun reports that: “
William Nylander into the injured Nazem Kadri’s spot” for tonight’s game, changing it up a bit. He has 12 points in 31 games. Also tonight: “Frederik Andersen starts in goal for the Leafs, his 300th NHL game. Babcock is changing up his defence a bit, teaming Jake Muzzin and Travis Dermott, but he cautioned the final pairings closer to playoffs are a work in progress.


Caps lines

Ovechkin Kuznetsov Wilson

Vrana Backstrom Oshie

Burakovsky Eller Connolly

Stephenson Dowd Boyd

Kempny & Carlson

Orlov & Niskanen

Orpik & Djoos

Holtby opposite Anderson in the net.

New guy Hagelin won’t join the team tonight

Ovi Watch

Alex Oechkin, who has 38 career goals against the Leafs, the most against a team the Capitals haven’t shared a division with since 2005-06, and two career hat tricks against Toronto, scored his 41st and 42nd goals of the season against the Los Angeles Kings on Monday, marking his 10th multi-goal game this season and his 130th career game where he has scored at least two goals. With 22 Capitals games remaining in 2018-19, Alex Ovechkin is aiming to become the third player in NHL history to record 50 goals in a season at least eight times (Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy: nine). Ovechkin is the only player with at least 200 goals since the end of the 2012-13 campaign, in which he led the NHL with 32 goals over a 48-game schedule (matching the lowest goal total of his career). He has scored 43 percent of his career goals over the course of the five seasons since (278 of 649), hitting the 50-goal mark three times, winning four of five Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophies, climbing from 110th to 14th on the NHL’s all-time goals list and capturing the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy – all after celebrating his 28th birthday. Ovechkin’s average of 0.60 goals per game since the start of 2013-14 (278g in 461 games played) is just shy of his career average prior to that season (0.62 from 2005-06 to 2012-13: 371g in 601 games played). Of the 19 players with at least 600 NHL regular-season goals, only three had a goals-per-game average better than 0.55 after age 28: Bobby Hull (0.65), Mario Lemieux (0.63) and Phil Esposit

(Caps Today)

Caps Winless Drought Extends to Seven Games Entering Break

The Washington Capitals were expected by many experts to have a Stanley Cup hangover of some sorts after winning the Cup and enduring the shortest, quickest offseason for the entire roster. Things were kind of 50/50 at the start of the season, then the team got hot to close out the 2018 calendar year. When that calendar flipped to 2019, that hangover talk resurfaced. The team is having a hard time moving on from the past.  Continue reading “Caps Winless Drought Extends to Seven Games Entering Break”

Stanley Cup Road Trip to Canada

After a week in the United States, The Keeper of the Cup went north to Canada where people live, eat, and breathe hockey. The week saw players and staff alike continue the Capitals Summer Of Celebration as they shared the Stanley Cup among themselves. There were special family moments, moments of giving and caring, community sharing, and of course there were parties!!

Madison Bowey began the player’s tour on Saturday 28 July with his proud parents and extended family. He even loaded up on some of his grandmother’s borscht before meeting the excited fans. Bowey, who learned to play hockey in Manitoba, Winnipeg set the Cup up at the Varsity View Community Centre Sportsplex. He played with the Varsity View Falcons as a lad. He also visited the Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg, bringing smiles to young and old alike. He didn’t stop smiling the whole time!

There was a quick stop in Regina, Saskatchewan for Assistant General Manager Ross Mahoney and Darrell Baumgartner, one of the Capitals scouts, to share their day with the glimmering cup. The two are old friends from their days of coaching together in Saskatchewan. img_2370

On a bright morning in Saskatchewan, Braden Holtby met up with his folks at their farm before following the Cup to Lashburn and the CN Sportsplex where his dad took him to learn about hockey. It was a momentous day for the Holtby family and all their friends in the community. More about his day can be found in our article about Holtby, Home and Family.  

The next stop was in Southern Ontario with video coach, and sometime stand-in goalie, Brett “Stretch” Leonhardt. He posed for a picture in front of the Mitchell town sign which pays tribute to hockey legend Howie Morenz. Morenz played for the Montreal Canadiens and is considered one of the first stars of hockey. Leonhardt’s wife Logan shared some of the great moments of the day, including a special margarita filled cup drank by Brett’s grandpa. Stretch drove around New Hamburg Thursday, stopping in the rink where he learned to play in the crease. He did some fund raising for the minor hockey team in town through a lottery for a signed Alex Ovechkin jersey!

Next up was equipment coach Brock Myers in beautiful Chesley on 3 August. About 500 fans came out for their turn with the Stanley Cup at the Chesley Community Center. Mark Cowan of Blackstone Sports donated a new skate sharpener in honor of the day. Lines formed early but they all seemed to have made it through for photos. Did we mention there was ice cream in the cup???

The following day the Keeper of the Cup met goaltender coach Scott Murray in his hometown of St. Clements in Waterloo where Scott took the cup for a ride Clem-Style, visited the local butcher, and hung out with friends in the community. Stemler Meats provided a pig roast for the evening celebration and loaded up the cup with pepperette meat sticks to share.

Tom Wilson welcomed Lord Stanley home to Toronto. After some time at home with family and close friends, it was off to where he and his brothers first played hockey at the North Toronto Hockey Arena. His event helped to raise fund for the SickKids Foundation and he set aside some special time for one young man. After the visit to the rink, he and girlfriend Taylor Pischke hosted a robust party at home. Even teammate Devante Smith-Pelly was there, perhaps to sneak the big shiny guy out early for his day!!

Devante Smith-Pelly waited until Monday for his day at home in Scaroboroguh Ontario. Ok, we think he may have just snagged the cup from Tom’s party to take with him!! DSP spent time a the SickKids Hospital in Toronto before meeting up with fans patiently waiting in the pouring rain at the Black Dog Pub. They all powered through, as Devante is known to do and had a special day that brightened all their cold and wet spirits.

It was a great time in Canada and now the Shiny Dude crosses the ocean back to Europe. First stop Denmark!

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Fans Pour In For Devante Smith-Pelly

Devante Smith-Pelly (DSP) was looking at the down slope of his NHL career when the Washington Capitals gave him a chance last summer after the NJ Devils bought out his contract. It proved to be a smart move for the team. He established his value to the Caps during the playoffs scoring seven goals and an assist. So much so that they awarded him with a one-year extension in June 2018. Continue reading “Fans Pour In For Devante Smith-Pelly”

Capitals Tom Wilson Walks Down Memory Lane in Toronto

Capitals and Maple Leaf fans alike assembled early on Sunday in Toronto for their chance to get a glimpse of the Stanley Cup. Local hockey boy and championship winning Tom Wilson accompanied the glowing cup to North Toronto Arena for the event. Continue reading “Capitals Tom Wilson Walks Down Memory Lane in Toronto”

Sunday is Tom Wilson Day

Sunday Tom Wilson will bring the Stanley Cup to the North Toronto Arena to celebrate with his hometown fans, as he enters Maple Leaf Territory.

Wilson, the Washington Capitals hot forward, grew up a Leaf’s fan and folks at NT Hockey love him just the same. There are still photos of him celebrating wins as part of the Canadian U17 team. Check this local story about the respect they have for this now Caps superstar.

Last year Tom told SportsNet that this is where he learned to play hockey. The rink was walking distance from home and where he and his brother Pete spent a lot of time. Dad Keven was also a hockey player and sometime coach to the brothers.

Wilson has never forgotten where he is from. He has never forgotten his childhood love for the Leafs and the Toronto community. You can be sure we will see all the Wilson clan, including mom Neville and new sister-in-law Leah celebrating! Girlfriend Taylor Pischke just qualified for the Vienna Beach Volleyball Majors in Austria and returned home Saturday, just in time to join Tom! (Update from original post)

We know of a couple official events which Tom has planned. There will be plenty of photos shared throughout the day, probably even some fans rocking the Leafs sweaters. We will provide a summary late on Sunday with all the photos and video we can find!

Veteran Capitals Brace for Leafs – Game Preview

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The Capitals take the ice Tuesday night at the Capital One Arena against Atlantic Division’s leader the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Capitals last met the Leafs during a hard fought first round playoff series where the Capitals bested the Leafs in four of six games with only Game 4 finalized during regulation play. During the series, the Leafs repeatedly demonstrated their speed, agility and ability to score – without intimidation by seasoned veteran teams like the Capitals.

Tuesday night’s game is the first of three match ups between the rivals and both teams have scores to settle. The advantages and challenges the Capitals face to win this game. Continue reading “Veteran Capitals Brace for Leafs – Game Preview”

Caps-Leafs: Oh what a night…

The Capitals started off slow in the first but picked up the speed enough to score two goals. That said, their shots on goal was way down–six shots the first and second period as they lagged behind the Leafs. The night before they had a total of 37 SOG against the Pens. The March schedule is going to be a tough one, but a good prep time for the playoffs. In the end, they managed to carry their third period lead to the end of the game.

First Period: Puck Trouble Leads to Scoring Glory!

The Caps began the period with what has become the normal slow start, and with a penalty that sent Brooks Oprik to the box. Thankfully the Leafs failed to make good on the man advantage. A second power play chance for the Leafs was also killed off. And suddenly the gates open up with a wrist shot by Chorney followed almost immediately by Ovi to make it 2-0 Caps. With a power play, the Caps close out the period with the lead.

  • Goals: Taylor Chorney assisted by TJ Oshie and Evegeny Kuznetsov; Alex Ovechkin assisted by Nicklas Backstrom and TJ Oshie.
  • Penalties: Brooks Orpik for delay of game; Jay Beagle for delay of game; TJ Oshie for checking Nikita Soshnikov. Frank Corrado called for tripping against Marcus Johansson.
  • Score: 2-0 Caps

Second Period: Lackluster Play

The Caps started the period with the remainder of their power play but did not score. The Leafs; however, scored shortly after to cut the lead in half. And, another Caps penalty, followed by a Leafs goal, and a Caps PP–great attempts but no goal on the PP. After that, things slowed down to a what seemed like a crawl on the ice. By the end of the period the Leafs were outshooting the Caps 22-12. A little tussle between Karl Alzner and Leo Kamarov as a penalty was called on Nazem Kadri for cross checking;

  • Goals: Nikita Soshnikov, assisted by Nazem Kadri and Matt Hunwick.
  • Penalties Jason Chimera for hooking, Matt Niskanen for roughing against Nikita Sosnikov who was called for interference and an extra two minutes for roughing. Nazem Kadri at the 20:00 mark for crosschecking.
  • Score: 2-1 Caps

Third Period:  Closed the Deal
   The Caps started the period with a power play that the Leafs managed to block. Leafs would manage another goal to tie up the game. There were a couple of close calls in which the Leafs could have grabbed a good lead. Alzner took a wicked hit by Soshnikov into the boards which took the Caps to the PP.  Niskanen successfully shoots one right past the goaltender for the Caps point advantage. 3-2 Caps

  • Goals: Colin Greening assisted by Peter Holland and Connor Carrick. .TJ Oshie  assisted by Nicklas Backstrom and Matt Niskanen (We believe this goal was credited to Oshie although we can’t find any official record).
  • Penalties: Nikita Soshnikov for boarding.
  • Final score 3-2

 

Congrats to Marcus Johansson for his 400th Career NHL Game!!

And yes, it was salute Brooks Laich night. He was touched and we wiped away a tear. And let’s not forget that Connor Carrick, who has been part of this franchise for 3 years, faced his old mates too. Change is hard and the Caps will need to keep making adjustments as they draw closer to the playoffs.

Caps Meet Leafs Tonight, With Added Emotion

Caps Moving Forward

By now everyone knows that the Caps traded Brooks Laich and that he, along with D-Man Connor Carrick will be in the Leafs’ line-up tonight. But it is time to move forward and tonight we should see just how this newly adjusted Caps team is doing. They still have the hurdle of the first period slump and the third period comeback to overcome. Coach continues the shifting of lines and though we have some projections, we aren’t really sure it matters much once the game starts. Here’s what to expect:

Caps Line Projections (But don’t hold us to it)

Forwards

Ovechkin  Backstrom  Oshie

Burakovsky  Kuznetsov  Williams

Chimera  Johansson  Wilson

Winnik  Richards  Beagle  (Galiev/Latta not likely)

Defensemen

Alzner  Niskanen

Orpik  Orlov

Schmidt Weber

Goalies

We expect Grubauer in tonight backed up by Holtby

What the Leafs Bring

They have a new roster which played together for the first time on Monday. Apparently there is a strange new alliance between Brooks and William Nylander stretching back to Nylander’s dad’s (Michael) time with the Caps. Prediction is that much of this game will be determined by who does better on the power play and power-play kill. The new players make this an unpredictable team.

Forwards

Soshnikov  Kadri  Komarov

Grabner  Nylander  Hyman

Boyes  Holland  Kapanen

Greening  Smith  Laich

Defensemen

Humwick  Rielly

Gardiner  Corrado

Marincin  Carrick

Goalies

Bernier expected in the net backed up by  Sparks

Don’t forget to check us out later for great game shots on Twitter (incoldplacedc) and  Instagram (friendsincoldplaces) AND tune in at 630 pm when we Periscope warmups live from Verizon Center.

Missing Brooks Laich

We hockey fans are a passionate bunch. We wear our heart on our sleeves. We are quick to critique failure and even quicker to celebrate success. And usually we understand when a player needs to be traded from our favorite team and there is a social media buzz about the years they played with us. Caps fans have gone through some of that in the last couple of years with trades from Matt Hendricks to Mike Green. We felt the disappointment that they had to go, we wished them the best, and celebrated them in videos at Verizon Center.

And then there is Brooks Laich.

brooks serious

We knew his stats were slipping. We all wrote about it. We all knew there was trouble on the fourth line and that Brooks was part of the problem. We knew it was only a matter of time.

  • First the rumors started about trading Brooks.
  • Then the Caps put him on waivers.
  • He cleared waivers.
  • We attempted to explain that he could stay or he could go (to Hershey)
  • And then the Caps announced he was gone – a trade with Connor Carrick to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the worst team in the NHL.

Now that hurt!!

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We have great memories of Brooks on and off the ice.

And the tweets late Sunday night, (because everyone was up watching the Oscars) expressed the depths of respect for Brooksie and extreme sadness that he is moving on from us.  One such tweet from Anna Knox is representative of the massive tweets that went out to Brooks on Sunday and Monday.

Laich it or not, trades are a part of hockey. Ok, let’s just say the business side of this sport stinks sometimes!  Losing a player such as Brooks Laich has been devastating to our hockey family here in DC . From the GM getting choked up when talking about the trade. to ourselves completely crying over the fact that Brooks will no longer be a part of the Caps! Admit it, tears were shed!!

How exactly are you supposed to handle this kind of stuff?!  Our photographer Mel writes:

“Well, I thought I would write how much I appreciate Brooks and it looks like I’m not the only one. Which really makes me feel better about the fact that I’m not alone . Together we Caps fans can console each other and know that we were lucky to have Brooks with us for the past decade!”

Good luck Brooks!! 

And thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

We will miss you!

Love your fans in DC 

We are humbled that Brooks chose one of our photographs in his thank you post to fans. Remember to bring your tissues to the game tonight for the tribute.