March 24, 2017

Washington Capitals Game 65 Recap: 100

NISKANEN GOAL IN OVERTIME LIFTS CAPS OVER BRUINS

It wasn’t easy. And it certainly wasn’t pretty. But they got it done.

The Washington Capitals penalty kill and goalie Philipp Grubauer did yeoman’s work and got it to overtime, where Matt Niskanen’s blast from the point beat Tuukka Rask and the Caps escaped Boston with a 2-1 win, pushing the season’s point total to 100. On March 5.

The Caps (48-13-4) become the 10th team in NHL history to reach 100 points in 65 games.

Grubauer had 24 saves, with several exceptional ones during an extended penalty kill in the second period, to earn the win.

Playing three-on-three in the extra session, Boston got a breakaway but Marcus Johansson hustled back to help break up the attack. Johansson raced the puck back into the offensive zone and gave it over to Andre Burakovsky. Burakovsky delayed, then saucered to Niskanen, who let loose the Nisk-cannon for goal No. 5 on the season, and his second game winner in the past week. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 64 Recap: Can’t win ‘em all, Caps fall to Rangers

CAPS FORGE TIE IN SECOND BUT STEPAN’S SOFTIE WINS IT

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Can’t win ‘em all.

The Washington Capitals once again started slow but scored two second-period goals to tie it up going into the third period.

Unfortunately, the New York Rangers didn’t stick to the script.

Derek Stepan scored 17 seconds into the final frame and Antti Raanta filled in admirably (depending on your point of view) for the injured Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers downed the Caps 3-2 at Verizon Center. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 62 Recap: Comeback Caps do it again, beat Pens on late power play goal

LATE THIRD-PERIOD POWER PLAY GOAL LIFTS CAPS OVER PENS

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

The Washington Capitals came out slow, got their stuff together, came roaring back, and beat a quality opponent with a late to goal to keep their season record above record-setting pace.

Tuesday, Matt Niskanen (or was it T.J. Oshie?) was the player that scored the late goal, and it was the dreaded Pittsburgh Penguins that suffered the come-from-ahead loss to these never-say-die Caps, as Washington escaped with a 3-2 win before an enthralled Verizon Center crowd.

Oshie seemed to have gotten a piece of Niskanen’s slap shot from center point, which came with 6:22 to go, but as of late Tuesday the goal was awarded to the defenseman, his fourth of the year.

Regardless, Braden Holtby (28 saves) and the Caps D was able to make it stand up over those final few playoff-like intense moments. Holtby won his 40th of the season, becoming the first Caps goalie to win 40 in back-to-back seasons. [Read more…]

Another goodbye to Brooks Laich, all-around good dude

Brooks Laich - Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Thanks, Brooks. (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Lots of nice things have already been said and written about Brooks Laich, whom the Washington Capitals traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs late Sunday night, along with Connor Carrick and next year’s second round pick in exchange for winger Daniel Winnik and Toronto’s 2016 fifth round pick.

If you haven’t seen some those nice things yet, you can do so here, here, and here.

As far as hockey trades go, this one benefits the Caps in a couple of different ways.

  • The first and most obvious is that the Caps shed Laich’s salary for the offseason, since they have several players that will be due new contracts and were tight up against the salary cap to begin with.
  • Winnik is a similar player to Laich, so he’ll contribute on the fourth line and kill penalties, and do it with a smaller paycheck than Laich.
  • Winnik can be trusted with more minutes than Laich can at the stages in their respective careers.

In a perfect world, Laich would have been a Caps player for life. He’s the kind of guy you want on your team — hard working, stand-up, willing to accept whatever role the team needs.

It’s not a perfect world, though. Laich was a good-to-very-good hockey player for a long time for some crappy teams. Then the team got good and he stayed pretty good, then the team got very good and he got hurt. And he stayed hurt for a couple of seasons.

Then he got better, but he was also  a little older and wasn’t as good as he was before he got hurt. That, coupled with the oversized contract he signed when he was good, made him expendable. Honestly, the Caps were within their rights to buy Laich out before last season

It’s a shame that a good hockey player and all-around good dude succumbed to accumulation of injury.

Regardless, Laich still gave the Caps everything of what he had left until the end of his tenure.

Of course, Laich’s value to the franchise and the region wasn’t just on the ice. He was arguably the face of the team in the media around here, willing to talk to whomever about whatever for as long as you’d like. He almost always was the one that Caps P.R. made available after bad losses. And he always had time for the legions of fans that made him their favorite.

It’s tough when a fan favorite becomes expendable to the team. Over the past several season, Caps fans have lost some of those one by one. Peter Bondra, Olie Kolzig, Alex Semin, Mike Green, now Laich, among others. These long-time players move on, but their legacies in D.C. carry on, and one of the coolest things about hockey is that you’ll continue to see their jerseys proudly displayed by their fans in the hallways of Verizon Center forever.

The biggest shame of Laich’s departure is it comes with the Caps enjoying an historic season. And if it ends with the Caps finally making a real piece of history for the franchise, it will come without him. It’s hard to imagine he won’t be in the room anymore.

It happens to every player eventually. That doesn’t mean you have to like it.

Please enjoy the slideshow.

Brooks Laich enjoying being back at Caps training camp in Sept. 2011 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Brooks Laich enjoying being back at Caps training camp in Sept. 2011 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Students Thanking Brooks Laich After Hockey School (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Students Thanking Brooks Laich After Hockey School (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Brooks Laich had to be helped off the ice in second period on Jan. 5 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

(Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Brooks Laich -Practice April 27 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Brooks Laich -Practice April 27 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Brooks Laich - Captials practice at Kettler, September 14, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Brooks Laich – Captials practice at Kettler, September 14, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Volunteers with Capitals Brooks Laich, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green - Washington Capitals and So Kids Can partnered with KaBOOM! and ARHA to replace the playground at S.T.A.R.S. Playground at Hopkins-Tancil Court in Old Town Alexandria, September 13, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Volunteers with Capitals Brooks Laich, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green – Washington Capitals and So Kids Can partnered with KaBOOM! and ARHA to replace the playground at S.T.A.R.S. Playground at Hopkins-Tancil Court in Old Town Alexandria, September 13, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Something made Caps Brooks Laich and Mike Green laugh while chatting wth volunteer Connor (age 7) - Washington Capitals and So Kids Can partnered with KaBOOM! and ARHA to replace the playground at S.T.A.R.S. Playground at Hopkins-Tancil Court in Old Town Alexandria, September 13, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Something made Caps Brooks Laich and Mike Green laugh while chatting wth volunteer Connor (age 7) – Washington Capitals and So Kids Can partnered with KaBOOM! and ARHA to replace the playground at S.T.A.R.S. Playground at Hopkins-Tancil Court in Old Town Alexandria, September 13, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Brooks Laich talking with media about potential lockout after Captials practice at Kettler, September 14, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Brooks Laich talking with media about potential lockout after Captials practice at Kettler, September 14, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Brooks Laich - Caps Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

Brooks Laich – Caps Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson out several weeks with surgery

John Carlson, Washington Capitals Practice at Kettler, 11/22/2013 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson will be out several weeks after a procedure to fix a lower-body injury, head coach Barry Trotz announced Saturday.

Carlson missed Friday night’s comeback 3-2 win over Minnesota and had the procedure on Saturday morning. The veteran defenseman missed 12 games in December and January. Presumably this procedure was to correct whatever was bothering him then, as no specifics about the injury or procedure have been released.

This news certainly make the acquisition of Mike Weber a little more clearer. In addition, if Carlson was to be placed on the long-term injured list, it would free up cap space for the team to use for Monday’s NHL trade deadline.

Washington Capitals Game 60 Recap: Comeback Caps edge Wild

 ORLOV’S THIRD PERIOD GOAL CAPS COMEBACK, CAPS HAVE 45 WINS

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

Baseball philosopher Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” The current version of the Washington Capitals are heeding Yogi’s sage wisdom and taking full advantage of the full 60 minutes of game play, and sometimes even more.

On Friday at Verizon Center, the Caps got third period goals from Alex Ovechkin and Dmitry Orlov and came from behind to beat the Minnesota Wild 3-2, to extend a streak this season of not having lost back-to-back games in regulation.

The Caps move to 45-11-4 for the season.

Ovechkin reached to 40-goal mark for the eighth time in his prodigious career. It’s the sixth time he’s the first player in the league to hit the 40-goal mark. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals acquire defenseman Mike Weber from Buffalo

The Washington Capitals made a move to bolster their depth on the blue line, acquiring veteran defenseman Mike Weber from the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday, in exchange for a their 2017 third round pick. According to the team press release, the Sabres agreed to retain half of his $2 million salary.

Weber is a solid, rugged stay-at-home defenseman that provides NHL depth and guards against fatigue and injury down the stretch and into the playoffs.

In the release, Caps GM Brian MacLellan said, “We are pleased to welcome Mike to our organization. Mike is a stay-at-home defenseman, who plays a physical game and is respected by his teammates. We felt it was important to add depth to our blueline by adding another quality veteran defenseman.”

Weber, 28, has recorded five points (one goal, four assists) and 32 penalty minutes in 35 games with the Sabres this season.

Since he entered the NHL in 2007-08, Weber ranks first among Buffalo skaters in hits (917) and blocked shots (666). The 6’2”, 217-pound defenseman served as an alternate captain with the Sabres during the 2013-14 season and 2014-15 season.

Washington Capitals Game 57 Recap: Orpik (!) late goal lifts Caps over Devils

ORPIK GOAL WITH 3:58 COMPLETES THIRD PERIOD COMEBACK

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

There seems to be a new hero every night with this team. Well, Alex Ovechkin is a hero almost every night. But you get my drift.

Brooks Orpik, the unlikeliest goal scorer, beat Cory Schneider with a wrist shot with less than four minutes to go to lift the Washington Capitals over the New Jersey Devils 4-3 at Verizon Center.

Ovechkin won a puck in the right wing corner and shuffled it to Evgeny Kuznetsov behind the net. The playmaker held the puck patiently until he drew the Devils defenseman, then slid it to Orpik, who pinched in when the defender left his post. Orpik’s snap shot beat Schneider stick-side and eventually became the game-winner.

For Orpik, who recently returned to the roster after missing 40 games, it was his second goal in 17 games played.

And for the Caps, they move to a remarkable 43-10-4 for the season. The Caps are nine points clear of the Chicago Blackhawks for the President’s Trophy with four games in hand. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 56 Recap: Williams overtime goal lifts Caps over Islanders

WILLIAMS SCORES 19TH, OVECHKIN GETS TWO AS CAPS REACH 88 POINTS

(Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

Justin Williams scored with less than a minute left in overtime to lift the Washington Capitals over the New York Islanders 3-2 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Williams took a pass in the high slot from John Carlson and with Nick Backstrom providing a screen, Williams’ slap shot got past Thomas Greiss for the game-winner.

The Capitals (42-10-4) are 9-1-2 in their past 12 games against the Islanders, including 3-0-0 this season. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 53 Recap: Ovechkin’s hat trick leads Caps over Wild on road

OVECHKIN RECORDS 14TH CAREER HAT TRICK, CAPS COLLECT 20TH ROAD WIN

How did that get through? (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

How did that get through? (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

Alex Ovechkin recorded his 14th career hat trick — in the second period — and the Washington Capitals registered yet another road win, topping the Minnesota Wild 4-3 on Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

After a scoreless first period, Ovechkin took over, scoring three goals in the frame to give the Caps a 3-1 lead entering the third. It was his first hattie since Dec. 13, 2013.

Ryan Suter’s goal midway through the period made things interesting, but Jason Chimera’s insurance empty net goal with less than a minute remaining sealed the deal. [Read more…]

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