Devante Smith-Pelly: Stanley Cup Memories And Now

Devante Smith-Pelly (DSP) was a key component of the Capitals 2018 Stanley Cup win. It has not always been an easy journey for DSP in the NHL. He made his first appearance with the Washington Capitals in late-summer of 2016 after the NJ Devils bought out his contract. He would play two seasons with the Capitals before they sent him down to the AHL Hershey Bears. Although he joined the Caps for the 2019 playoffs, his future again hangs in the balance as the Caps general manager looks at the big picture for the coming few seasons. With the pool of talent in Hershey from which they can draw and other signings they need to consider, it is highly unlikely that he will suit up in a Caps sweater again. Continue reading “Devante Smith-Pelly: Stanley Cup Memories And Now”

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.

Caps Get Blown Out in Raleigh 5-0, What Now?

Monday’s game was hot garbage, plain and simple. The Caps were dominated in every aspect of the game and Carolina fed off of a capacity crowd that has waited 10 years for the Hurricanes to be back in the playoffs. So the question the Caps have to answer is: what now? Continue reading “Caps Get Blown Out in Raleigh 5-0, What Now?”

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 Sweep Flyers and Lead Division by Three Points

It was a pretty awesome day for Capital One Arena where the Capitals defeated the Flyers for the fourth time this season. The sweep added two points for the Caps in the NHL and pushed the Flyers seven points behind the Canadiens for a wild card spot. And there was a sweet marriage proposal too!

Continue reading “Capitals Sweep Flyers and Lead Division by Three Points”

Caps lose 2-1, tamed by Wild

TLDR: Brett Connolly scores 21st goal of the season, and the Caps power play continues to struggle. Sluggish start by the Capitals never gained steam, Minnesota beats Capitals 2-1. 


Tonight, the Washington Capitals took on the Minnesota Wild at Capital One Arena. After dropping their last game to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the boys in red were certainly hoping to rebound and add to their 3-point cushion in the Metropolitan division. Conversely, Minnesota was fighting for a playoff run in the West, and heading into tonights’ game, were just one point out from the second wild card spot.


The Caps elected to start Braden Holtby tonight, but were missing defenceman Michal Kempny, who suffered a lower-body injury versus the Lightning. Christian Djoos was inserted back into the lineup, having been paired with John Carlson. Washington announced shortly before puck drop that Carl Hagelin would not be playing, due to illness. The Wild decided that goaltender Devan Dubnyk, who has just one win in his last 5 starts, would get the start between the pipes.


Early on in the first period, Jakub Vrana took a hard sliding hit into the boards behind Dubnyk. Luckily, he was able to quickly recover. The Capitals started off very similarly to the way they did versus Tampa. They quickly and successfully forced turnovers by the Wild, and spend a good amount of time in Minnesota’s defensive zone. The Capitals would receive the first power play of the night, as Kevin Fiala went to the box for slashing. However, they would not score. As the period progressed, the Caps seemed to lose some steam, and at one point, hadn’t registered a shot on goal in eight minutes. The Wild would score first, as Jordan Greenway snuck the puck past Holtby with under three minutes remaining in the period. Providing an opportunity for the Caps tie the game, they received a late power play, as Marcus Foligno went off to the box for slashing. Heading into the first intermission, the Capitals trailed 1-0.


The Capitals started off the middle frame with 46 seconds left on a late first period power play. Minnesota would kill off yet another shot-less Caps’ power play. Washington simply has not played with enough drive or desire, and the Wild took advantage. Luck was very much in the Caps’ favor as they were gifted another power play as Hunt went off for slashing. The Capitals would eventually waste yet another man-advantage. We would get four-on-four play for two minutes, as Brooks Orpik and Justin Zucker were sent to the box for roughing. A shot by Nick Jensen deflected, ending up behind Dubnyk, and Brett Connolly would be credited with his 21st goal of the season.

With 8.6 seconds remaining, the Capitals would be faced with their first penalty kill as Tom Wilson would go off for hooking. The Wild would start the third with 1:52 left on their power play. The two teams were tied at one goal each.


While it may not have been the most exciting game of the season, it was nonetheless an important one. A Caps win would provide a decent 5-point cushion between them and the 2nd place Isles team. Tom Wilson got a great breakaway immediately out of the box, but the puck just wouldn’t cooperate. Lots of high-danger chances generated for both sides, but both Dubnyk and Holtby were sharp as could be. A missed pass led to a breakaway by Luke Kunin, and with less than eight minutes left, the Wild took a 2-1 lead. Todd Reirden would elect to pull Braden Holtby for the extra attacker, but it wouldn’t be enough. The Minnesota Wild would win this one, splitting the season series, holding the Caps to a 3-point lead in the Metro division.


FiCP’s Three Takeaways of the Game

  1. The Power Play needs a recharge.
  2. The Capitals need to improve their passing and stop. passing. in. front. of. Holtby.
  3. Less turnovers, please. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again, this is a hockey game, not a bakery.

Win a Chance to Skate at Capital One Arena

After a Sunday afternoon Capitals game years ago, before I was able to get season tickets, I saw a line of people holding skates and I was immediately jealous.  I asked and found out that it was a private skating session for season ticket holders and their guests.  It was one of the things that I remembered when I finally had the chance to get season tickets.

At that time, I didn’t realize all of the other benefits of being a season ticket holder – the annual meet the team party; the chalk talks with the announcers, NHL officials and referees, and team management; the summer movie nights; and summer skating sessions.

Sunday Skate Opportunity

The final season ticket holder skate for this season will be this Sunday (March 24) following the Capitals-Flyers game and your friends at Friends in Cold Places want you to be able to go as their guest and have the chance to experience this event. We have three passes available for our readers.

If you have ever wanted to go skating at Capital One Arena, here’s your chance and there’s only a few conditions.

  1. You must have a ticket to the Capitals-Flyers game.
  2. You must have and bring your own skates.
  3. You must be willing to sign the liability waiver that the Capitals give to all skaters.
  4. You agree that Friends in Cold Places is not responsible for any injuries that you may suffer from participating. (Sorry, but we had to throw in the legal language).

Here’s how you can win passes:

Between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. (EST) tonight (March 22), follow (or be a follower of) FiCP on Twitter, send out a tweet that says “I want to go skating with FiCP” and tag Friends in Cold Places in your tweet.  In your tweet, tell us how many passes you will be able to use. We will randomly pick a winner after 10 p.m. and, if there are passes remaining after the first winner is selected, we will pick additional winners.

Thanks for being a loyal reader and we hope to see your skating skills on display on Sunday.

Vrana Fights and Shocks Us All

By Chris Cleveland

Wednesday night’s game was one to remember for many reasons. It was like the game of the year for me, even though we lost. Capital One Arena was lit all night starting with people waiting to get in from outside the arena. Continue reading “Vrana Fights and Shocks Us All”

Caps Lose 5-4 in OT, End Up Thunderstruck by Bolts

TLDR: Despite goals by Lars Eller, Carl Hagelin, and T.J. Oshie, and the equalizer by Kuznetsov, as well as 50+ shots on goal, the Caps just couldn’t solve Vasilevskiy for the second time this season. Tampa Bay wins 5-4 in overtime. Capitals still maintain top spot in the Metro. 


For the second time in less than a week, the top two teams in the Eastern Conference played one another, but this time, it was in OUR house. Coming off of a 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils last night, the Washington Capitals took back the Metro division, and headed home for the first of a four-game home stand. The Tampa Bay Lightning, however, have not only clinched their playoff spot, but have also claimed the Presidents’ Trophy as their own. Now just because a curse exists, that doesn’t mean a certain event will not occur. However, only 8 teams have won both the trophy and then gone on to also win the Stanley Cup. Sure, that’s a 1 in 4 chance, but I just keep thinking back to the Capitals in years past. Despite a valiant comeback effort, last Saturday, the Lightning beat the Capitals 6-3, after scoring two empty net goals. Tonight, the Capitals looked to match Tampa, with a win of their own. Unfortunately, that would not be the case.


Once again, the Capitals entrusted tonights’ game to Braden Holtby, and Andrei Vasilevskiy got the start for Tampa. Expected to be a Round 2 battle between the two powerhouses, we knew it would be a very fast and very physically demanding 60 minutes. As mentioned last week, it was imperative for the Caps to get on the board early. They simply could not afford to have another slow start like they did a few days ago. Not even two minutes past puck drop, and the Capitals already had a number of great scoring chances. An early stop by Holtby on an Anthony Cirelli breakaway kept the game at zero each. An unfortunate turnover by Tampa allowed Carl Hagelin to feed the puck up the center of the ice, and with that, Lars Eller scored his 12th goal of the season.

Shortly thereafter, the Capitals would earn their first power play of the night, as Steven Stamkos would go off for holding. The good guys would only register on shot with the man-advantage, and Tampa’s Number 1 penalty kill would keep the Caps from improving their lead. Braden Holtby would be hit up high through the mask by the stick of Brooks Orpik, drawing some blood, but would be good enough to finish the period. With three minutes left in the period, the Capitals would get a second power play, as John Rutta would go to the box for tripping. Tom Wilson would unfairly be called for holding, and Tampa would get their first power play with 30 seconds left in the period. While the Lightning would start the second with the remainder of that man-advantage, the Capitals lead 1-0 heading into the intermission.


The second period started with a power play goal by Nikita Kucherov with just eight seconds left on the man-advantage, tying the game 1-1. Now the Capitals need to play the remaining 40 minutes with just as much, if not more power and drive than the first 20. Unfortunately, Ovechkin would go off for elbowing and Tampa headed right back on the power play. Off the faceoff, Steven Stamkos would score, giving the Lightning their first lead of the game. What once seemed to be a manageable game, started to tilt. Another deflection off of John Carlson gives Tampa a 3-1 lead. Anthony Cirelli would ultimately be credited with the goal. A set up by Lars Eller would give Carl Hagelin a nearly-wide open net, and, in scoring his 5th of the season, 3rd with Washington, would bring the Caps within one.

The Capitals would get another power play opportunity as Mikhail Sergachev was sent off for slashing. T.J. Oshie would get second-chance bounce off his skate, and the puck would find the back of the net. The Caps power play goal would be the game-tying goal.

Dmitry Orlov would go off for slashing, and in a high-scoring second, the Caps would fight to keep Tampa from scoring again. Nikita Kucherov would score his second as the Caps’ defense couldn’t keep it together and Holtby was asked to make one too many stops. The Tampa’s #1 power play strikes again, and the Lightning would reclaim the lead, 4-3. Michal Kempny would need to be carried down the tunnel with a lower body injury, and a scrum involving players on both sides would ensue. Jakub Vrana and Yanni Gourde would both receive five-minute majors for fighting, Michal Kempny and Cedric Paquette would receive two minutes for roughing. Sergachev would also get two minutes for roughing. The Caps would end up with a power play, but would not score. Six goals were scored in the 2nd, and the Lightning lead 4-3.


Michal Kempny did not return to play the last period, and per the team, suffered a lower-body injury. The Capitals would receive an early third period power play, as Ovechkin was taken down by Ondrej Palat. The Caps would not tie it. It was encouraging to see Braden Holtby sharpen up as the period progressed. With under 10 left, the Caps would head back to the power play, and despite a number of great looks, again, they would not score. Head coach Todd Reirden would pull Holtby with under 2 to go, and somehow, Evgeny Kuznetsov would tie the game with under 60 seconds left. The Capitals would go to overtime.


3-on-3 Sudden Death Overtime: Victor Hedman would score the game-winning goal. Tampa wins 5-4.


FiCP’s Three Takeaways of the Game

  1. Stop. Drawing. Penalties. I don’t care how bad the referees are. They will always call bad penalties, so don’t give them a reason to call them
  2. Scratch Orlov. Or Carlson. But not Djoos.
  3. The power play needs work. Especially against top penalty-killing teams.