October 23, 2014

Capitals participating in Hockey Fights Cancer campaign during month of November

Per a press release from the Washington Capitals, the Caps will wear purple jerseys during warmups beginning with their home game October 29th and extending through the month of November as part of the Hockey Fights Cancer campaign. Capitals goalies Braden Holtby and Justin Peters will sport lavender goalie masks throughout the campaign as well.

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals are teaming up with the National Hockey League October through November to educate the hockey community about cancer. Hockey Fights Cancer is a league-wide initiative founded by the NHL and NHL Players’ Association and is dedicated to raising awareness for national and local organizations involved in cancer care and research.

The Capitals will host Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night during the game against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday, Oct. 29. Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MSE) Foundation is hosting a jersey auction to raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s National Capital Area Chapter. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) exists to find cures and ensure access to treatments for blood cancer patients. The organization funds research to advance more breakthrough therapies for blood cancer patients, and serves as the voice for these patients, working to ensure access to treatments for all.

During warmups, players will wear purple Capitals jerseys with a Hockey Fights Cancer patch. The jerseys will feature players’ names and numbers in white twill backed in lavender with ribbon cutouts on the numbers. Lavender is the official color the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer campaign, as it represents all forms of cancer. Braden Holtby and Justin Peters will also wear Hockey Fights Cancer-themed goalie masks during the game.

These autographed, practice-worn jerseys and goalie masks will be auctioned off at the MSE Foundation table located on the main concourse at section 104 of Verizon Center during the Capitals game against the Detroit Red Wings. Bidding will start when doors open at 6:30 p.m. and will conclude when the second intermission ends. MSE Foundation donated more than $35,000 to the LLS National Capital Area Chapter last year through the 2013 jersey auction. To view a photo gallery of the masks visitMonumentalNetwork.com.

During the game, management, coaches and broadcasters will wear the lavender official Hockey Fights Cancer tie.

Eleven-year-old Bethesda, Md., native and local wish kid Ryan Darby will participate in a ceremonial puck drop on behalf of Make-A-Wish® Mid-Atlantic. Make-A-Wish Mid Atlantic is the beneficiary of a $5,000 grant distributed by the NHL to the Washington Capitals in support of a local cancer organization. Make-A-Wish grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic serves children who reside in central and southern Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland and Northern Virginia. Founded in 1983, the Mid-Atlantic chapter has granted more than 8,200 wishes in the Mid-Atlantic region since its inception. For more information, please visit: www.midatlantic.wish.org.

In addition a portion of proceeds from tickets purchased through the Capitals special Hockey Fight Cancer linkwww.msesales.com/caps/hfc will be donated to LLS. Use the promo code HFC to activate the discount and donation when purchasing through the link.

Hockey Fights Cancer is an initiative founded in December 1998 by the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association to raise money and awareness for hockey’s most important fight. To date, through the NHL’s U.S. and Canadian charitable foundations, more than $12.8 million has been raised under the Hockey Fights Cancer initiative to support national and local cancer research institutions, children’s hospitals, player charities and local cancer organizations. The Hockey Fights Cancer program is also a component of the NHL’s “Biggest Assist Happens Off the Ice” campaign – the League’s long-standing tradition of addressing important social issues in North America and around the world.

The Hockey Fights Cancer program is supported by NHL Member Clubs, NHL Alumni, the NHL Officials’ Association, Professional Hockey Trainers and Equipment Managers, corporate marketing partners, broadcast partners and fans throughout North America.


Photos courtesy of the Washington Capitals.

HFC Jersey Peters Mask Holtby Mask

Washington Capitals 2014-15 Season Roundtable Part III: Projections for Ovi

We’re a little late to the party here, but District Sports Page conducted a roundtable with staff writers and friends of the site to discuss pertinent issues surrounding the 2014-15 Washington Capitals.

Our panelists: Dave Nichols, Editor-in-Chief; Katie Brown, Staff Writer; Eric Hobeck, Staff Writer; J.J. Regan, Contributor; Abram Fox, former contributor, Harry Hawkings, Editor at Rock the Red.

Part I: Grade the Caps offseason and their biggest acquisitions
Part II: What is your single biggest area of concern?

Part III: What do you expect out of Alex Ovechkin this season? [Read more...]

Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs. Edmonton Oilers 10/22/14

Read the recap of tonight’s game in Edmonton here: http://wp.me/p1QLZd-6Rr

They may have lost to the Oilers, but there were a lot of good things to take away from the Capitals performance in Edmonton, including but not limited to the power play (which is pretty good), and controlling play at even strength. They out-attempted Edmonton 66-36 through 3 periods.

First Star: Mike Green

He missed the home opener, but he has 6 points in five games since his season debut against Boston. When he’s allowed to play like he’s supposed to, he really gets it done. Whatever Barry Trotz is doing agrees with him.

Second Star: Nicklas Backstrom

He is a Steady Eddie if there ever was one. Six points in 6 games, and his assist on John Carlson’s power play goal was his 500th career point.

Third Star: Andre Burakovsky

Despite the fact that he was playing on a line with Jay Beagle all night, he dished the puck to Mike Green and earned a primary assist on the goal. He has 6 points in 6 games (2g, 4a). Let’s hope that line pairing doesn’t last.

Washington Capitals Game 6 Recap: Capitals lose 3-2 in regulation to Oilers

On the first stop of their road trip to western Canada, the Washington Capitals parked in Edmonton for the night to visit former Capitals Boyd Gordon and Matt Hendricks.

The Oilers struck first, John Carlson answered on the power play, and Mike Green’s wrister gave the Caps the lead, but 20 seconds later, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins struck for the Oilers. Tie game. Late in the second Nikita Nikitin scored the go-ahead goal for Edmonton. The Capitals lobbed everything they had at Ben Scrivens, but he was figuratively on fire, and had a fine crew of shot-blockers in front of him. Caps lose for the first time in regulation, 3-2.

  • Power play looks pretty good, and the Oilers defense makes it look even better.
  • Jay Beagle made his first start of the season against Edmonton. He was really excited. Trotz had him on the ice with 1:30 left, which is puzzling, to say the least. He played on a line with Marcus Johansson and Andre Burakovsky, which is ostensibly the Capitals’ second line.
  • Two consecutive shots on goal in the second period by Karl Alzner. Adam Oates wouldn’t have allowed that to happen.
  • Mike Green scored a beauty, but the Caps allowed a goal against 20 seconds later. Some habits are hard to break, I suppose. Last season, the Caps gave up a buttload (scientific term) of quick response goals, and it helped them lose a lot of games.
  • Former Capital Matt Hendricks fought with new Capital Liam O’Brien. It was weird.
  • Alex Ovechkin didn’t have a shot on goal until the third period, but he’s been terrific otherwise this season. Everyone has their off nights.
  • How’s this for a fancy stat: after Wednesday’s game, the Capitals held their opponent to less than 30 shots on goal for the sixth time this season, the first time they’ve done that since November 2010.
  • The Capitals had 66 shot attempts to the Oilers’ 36, but still couldn’t find the back of the net. The Oilers were shot-blocking machines, and Ben Scrivens was pretty good too.
  • Nicklas Backstrom assisted on John Carlson’s first period power play goal, his 500th point in his 501st game.

Washington Capitals 2014-15 Season Roundtable Part II: Area of Concern

We’re a little late to the party here, but District Sports Page conducted a roundtable with staff writers and friends of the site to discuss pertinent issues surrounding the 2014-15 Washington Capitals.

Our panelists: Dave Nichols, Editor-in-Chief; Katie Brown, Staff Writer; Eric Hobeck, Staff Writer; J.J. Regan, Contributor; Abram Fox, former contributor, Harry Hawkings, Editor at Rock the Red.

Part I: Grade the Caps offseason and their biggest acquisitions
Part II: What is your single biggest area of concern?

Dave: The company line for area of concern is secondary scoring — specifically the second line, which seems to be a mixed jumble of part that didn’t fit elsewhere. There’s no veteran 2C, but Andre Burakovsky so far has done a bang up job and has much promise. I don’t like seeing Evgeny Kuznetsov buried on the fourth line like Tom Wilson was last season. If you’re in for a dime on Bura, might as  go for the dollar and put Kuzy on his right wing.

I also have concerns about the goalkeeping, which we’ll discuss in depth in a few days. This is a make-or-break year for Braden Holtby to prove he can carry a team as a clear-cut No. 1 goalie.

Katie: The top 6 forward depth. In signing Orpik and Niskanen, the Capitals spent money that could have been used to retain Mikhail Grabovski or sign a capable 2C. Though it appears that youngster Andre Burakovsky has adapted to the center position–and quite well, so far- the lack of an established 2C is a bit worrisome.

I don’t doubt Trotz’s judgment here, but it seems that now Evgeny Kuznetsov, who was supposed to be the Next Big Thing, has been left out in the cold a little, playing 4th line minutes more often than not. I’m unsure if this this because Trotz hasn’t figured out where to put him, or if he’s somehow in the doghouse. I’m sure it’s the latter, as Trotz has hinted that some of the guys playing less minutes right now will likely move up to larger roles as the season progresses.

Eric: I’m still concerned about the second-line center situation. This isn’t a knock on Eric Fehr, as his line has been very productive through the first five games, but there’s still a hole there after the departure of Grabovski.

J.J.: Secondary scoring. The Caps could not rely on their second line last season and did not sign a center to replace Mikhail Grabovski. I like what I’ve seen from Andre Burakovsky so far, but can he play at this level for 82 games? There’s also still no clear right wing for the top line. And just where does Marcus Johansson fit in? Clearly Trotz is still constructing the offensive lineup. It looks like the talent is there, he just needs to find the right combinations.

Abram: The second line. As others have noted, this is a team with a first line, two third lines, and a fourth line. We all know that Ovechkin’s line can score, the trio of Ward-Laich-Chimera can pin the puck in the opponent’s zone, and the current fourth line doesn’t seem to cause too much damage, although we’ll see once Aaron Volpatti returns. There’s not really a second scoring line on the roster.

Troy Brouwer and Evegeny Kuznetsov are capable scorers and Marcus Johansson is a fair set-up man, but no NHL team is quivering in their skates when they see Washington’s second unit hit the ice. Head Coach Barry Trotz has already begun tinkering with lines, and his task is to find a potent second combination without neutering the first line. That said, as long as he doesn’t have Jay Beagle centering Alexander Ovechkin, it’s an improvement over last year.

Harry: Consistency on offense.  The Capitals have a bad combination up front of relying on young players forced in to spots that they probably are not ready for (Andre Burakovsky, Evgeny Kuznetsov) and overpaid veterans who will either regress or are not very good (Troy Brouwer, Joel Ward, Jason Chimera, Brooks Laich).  The top line of Ovechkin-Backstrom-Fehr will be great, but after that there is not a whole lot to be very excited about.

Washington Capitals 2014-15 Season Roundtable Part I: Grade the Offseason

We’re a little late to the party here, but District Sports Page conducted a roundtable with staff writers and friends of the site to discuss pertinent issues surrounding the 2014-15 Washington Capitals.

Our panelists: Dave Nichols, Editor-in-Chief; Katie Brown, Staff Writer; Eric Hobeck, Staff Writer; J.J. Regan, Contributor; Abram Fox, former contributor, Harry Hawkings, Editor at Rock the Red.

Part I: Grade the Caps offseason and their biggest acquisitions.

Dave: C+. The biggest immediate acquisition, obviously, is Barry Trotz and the biggest long-term acquisition is Brian MacLellan. Trotz brings instant credibility to the on-ice product, while MacLellan’s impact is less certain and probably not fully realized until several seasons down the line.

Player-wise, the Caps biggest need was to add two NHL-caliber defensemen, and MacLellan went out and bought what he thought were the best options in Niskanen and Orpik. Nisky is a player entering his prime, while Orpik may be on his last legs and will end up as an albatross — probably sooner rather than later. But for this season, the pair significantly upgrade the balance of the blueline.

I would have liked to seen a scorer added, but the team will rely on a pair of rookies, Burakovsky and Kuznetsov, to help in that department.

Katie: B.The hiring of Barry Trotz salvaged what could have been a disastrous offseason for the Capitals. Can you imagine if Dan Bylsma had been a free agent? I suspect the promotion of Brian MacLellan was spurred by Trotz’s sudden availability and reluctance to hire a head coach without a general manager in place.

The Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen signings undoubtedly shored up a thin defense, and though they probably should have just signed Niskanen and not Orpik, it was a bold move that might pay off. Or it might be a bust. That’s the nature of risk. Good teams take risks, but it’s a fine line between good risks and bad risks. Thus far, this risk seems to be working out okay. I’ll get back to you in about 30 games.

Eric: I’d grade the offseason an A based on what Brian MacLellan was able to do with such little experience on the job. He improved the blueline immensely by signing Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen away from Pittsburgh, although that came at the cost of not bringing back Mikhail Grabovski. Initially, I thought losing Grabovski would be a serious detriment to the team’s offensive potential, but the top line of Ovechkin-Backstrom-Brouwer has proved plenty capable thus far.

J.J.: B. Barry Trotz was a fantastic hire and I already love the things he’s done since coming in. I’m not yet sold on Brian MacLellan as GM. Right now he looks like the easy hire, but  I don’t know if he was the right one. He came in and immediately tried to address the need for defense, but at what cost? The Caps are certainly better in the short term, but I am wary of the long-term effects of the Niskanen/Orpik contracts, especially Orpik’s.

Abram: Obviously the biggest acquisition was a new head coach, Barry Trotz, the team’s fourth in four years.Trotz brings significant experience as a head coach – 15 years on the Nashville Predators – which goes far, considering the last time the Caps hired a veteran head coach it was Ron Wilson, seven coaches and 18 years ago. Other than that, the team overhauled its blue line with Matt Niskanen and USS Brooks Orpik, and added phenom Andre Burakovsky as well as grinder Liam O’Brien and backup goalie Justin Peters, while losing Michal Neuvirth and Mikhail Grabovski.

There’s no question the 2013-14 roster is a better on-ice squad than the 2012-13 team. That said, the team’s salary cap situation has a far bleaker outlook thanks to the massive amount of money being plugged into the defensive corps. Which is a long way of saying that the offseason gets a 79%, graciously rounded up to a B-. Room for improvement.

Harry:  I give the offseason a C. The Capitals signed a good defenseman in Matt Niskanen to a reasonable contract but gave Brooks Orpik a very scary one.  They also let their third-best forward walk in free agency. Even with the hiring of Trotz, which was smart, they didn’t really move closer to a Stanley Cup championship.

Washington Capitals Power Rankings: Weeks 1 & 2

Each Monday this season, District Sports Page will rank the active roster of the Washington Capitals “power ranking” style. The criteria for rankings will be questionable and highly subjective, so don’t think too hard about them.

Note: this list actually covers weeks 1 & 2, since the Capitals only played 5 games during that timespan.

Rank Player The whatfor
1 Alex Ovechkin Six points in 5 games, and he looks great at even strength. Fun times.
2 Mike Green I think he’ll outlast Brooks Laich in the injury sweepstakes. If there was any worry about how he’d fit into the updated defensive corps, thats gone now. He’s thriving.
3 Andre Burakovsky Five points in five games. He seems to be adjusting to his role as a center. It’s like he was born to be a 2C.
4 Troy Brouwer He got bumped up to the first line against Florida when Fehr moved back to the third line, and scored the equalizing goal against San Jose that sent the game to OT.
5 Nick Backstrom Mr. 500 is kind of a big deal ’round these parts. Just ask Barry Trotz.
6 Braden Holtby Two wins, a shutout in Boston, not a bad start to the season for Holtby (aside from that one time he was pulled less than 10 minutes into the game against San Jose.)
7 Jason Chimera This guy was all over the ice Saturday night, and he definitely worked on his moves during the offseason.”)
8 Marcus Johansson Part of the “Swedetrick” against the Devils, and has 2 goals through 5 games. He’s shooting more and looks pretty confident on the ice.
9 Eric Fehr He’s already been bumped from the first line to the third with Chimera and Ward, and it’s moderately unfortunate for a player who can skate as well as he can to be stuck at center, but there’s still a lot of time left for things to change.
10 Justin Peters He’s only gotten one start, but it was a good one, and has subbed in capably when needed.
11 Evgeny Kuznetsov Three points in 5 games, which is not bad, but he’s still being shuffled around the lineup a bit.
12 Nate Schmidt If Nate Schmidt ever stops smiling, the world will probably stop turning and the sun will cease to shine. Besides that, he looks more like an NHL defenseman every day.
13 Karl Alzner Karl is as Karl does. No surprises here.
14 Joel Ward This.
15 Brooks Orpik Orpik, usually paired with John Carlson, looked good, aside from the first period of the Sharks game, where everyone was struggling.
16 John Carlson Four points in four games for Carlson, and he’s seeing a lot of power play time as well.
17 Matt Niskanen He’s eating up a lot of minutes, and seems to be meshing well with partner Karl Alzner.
18 Liam O’Brien Probably the sassiest guy on the team. Not many people his size would dare taunt the mountainous John Scott.
19 Brooks Laich Laich has one point in 5 games, and it looks like he’s going to miss some time with an upper-body injury. Say it with me: at least it’s not the groin.
20 Chris Brown He’s done pretty much what is expected of him as a fourth line winger, and scored a goal, too.
21 Michael Latta Healthy scratch for 3 of 5 games this season, only seeing action against Boston and San Jose thus far.
 – John Erskine Healthy scratch. Not a great probability we’ll see him dress for a game any time soon.
 – Aaron Volpatti Still on IR for the foreseeable future.
 – Jack Hillen Healthy scratch since his one start in the home opener. Probably won’t be seeing much of Hillen this season.
 – Tom Wilson Still on IR, but Trotz has hinted that he may see a rehab stint in Hershey fairly soon.
 – Jay Beagle Not in the doghouse, but still on IR. He practiced Monday morning, so he might be back soon.
 – Dmitri Orlov Yup, still on IR.

Washington Capitals Game 5 Recap: Caps survive in shootout win over Florida

The Washington Capitals continued their  strong start to the 2014-15 season on Saturday night at Verizon Center with a 2-1 shootout win over the Florida Panthers.

Justin Peters made his first start of the young season in goal for the Caps, stopping 20 of the 21 shots he faced, and looked ready to be a solid backup to Braden Holtby.

“That’s some nice run support,” said Peters, the game’s first star, on his teammates’ 1-2-3 scoring effort in the shootout. “We’ve got a lot of skill and I see those guys in practice every day, so it’s nice to see them score because they do that to me.”

Nick Backstrom scored the deciding goal in the shootout, and Alex Ovechkin iced it in the top of the third round with his first shootout tally of the season.

It was Backstrom’s 500th NHL game, and the Swedish pivot sits at 499 career points.

“He’s exceptional,” coach Barry Trotz said of his No. 1 center. “The hockey IQ, the professionalism, the stick skills, all those things. You know what you’re going to get night in and night out. That’s part of being a pro, and that’s part of being a great pro.

He’s done it at a high level for 500 games and he was good tonight. He had a couple looks himself and he set a couple guys up that sort of whiffed on a couple chances. He’s a pleasure to coach and a pleasure to watch.”

Jason Chimera was the best player on the ice not wearing goalie pads Saturday night, and he opened the scoring late in the first period. Chimera was in front of the net and received a nifty pass from Eric Fehr. Chimera deked Florida goalie Al Montoya out of position and deposited his first goal of the season on the backhand.

“It was nice to get the goal and get the team going, for sure. You want to win as much as possible and if you can help your team win, that’s what you’ve got to do,” Chimera said.

The Panthers tied it on the power play early in the third period to make things interesting, as Brad Boyes scored his first goal of the season.

The win puts the Capitals’ record at 3-0-2 ahead of next week’s road trip at Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.


  • Washington has posted a 10-0-1 record in its last 11 games against Florida and has won nine consecutive home games against the Panthers.
  • The Capitals outshot the Panthers 28-21.
  • Washington was 4 for 5 on the penalty kill tonight and is 18 for 20 (90.0%) on the penalty kill this season.

Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs. Florida Panthers 10/18/14

The Panthers aren’t divisional rivals anymore, which is weird, but the Capitals still kind of beat up on the new kid like the old days. Jason Chimera scored a weird goal, and the Panthers got one back on a power play, but the Capitals were perfect in the shootout and won 2-1.

First Star: Jason Chimera

The Ice Cheetah was everywhere on the ice against the Panthers tonight. Since the re-addition of Eric Fehr, the third line has been abuzz, including Joel Ward scoring a weird goal against the Devils Thursday night. Chimera’s goal was as fancy as they come. He was clearly working on his finesse in the offseason. He had another great scoring chance on Al Montoya later in the game, and had a team high 5 shots on goal.

Check it.

Second Star: Justin Peters

In his first start with the Caps, Peters effectively brought home the bacon for the Capitals, stopping 20 of 21 shots, and stopped Jussi Jokinen in the shootout for the Caps’ win. It was his first start since December of 2013, when he was a member of the Carolina Hurricanes. He’s a super solid No. 2 goalie. And he has great hair. What more do you want?

Third Star: Alex Ovechkin

Ovechkin was the third shooter in the shootout lineup, and scored the winning shot with the prettiest shootout goal he’s made in years. He had two shots on goal and seven hits in the 2-1 win.

Honorable mention: Nicklas Backstrom

He finished with three shots on goal and did not register a point, but Mr. 500 is still one of the best. Congrats on 500.

Washington Capitals Morning Skate Update for Oct. 18: Barry Trotz and Nicklas Backstrom

Saturday night’s Washington Capitals game against the Florida Panthers will be the 500th for longtime Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom. Backstrom, drafted by the team in the 2006 Entry Draft, spoke about what it means to have played 500 games for the club: “[It] felt like yesterday I was playing my first game, so I’m happy that I’ve played 500 here. I have my heart and soul here in Washington so it’s an honor for me to represent this team.

“It’s gone quicker than you think. You don’t really have to think about it during all these years, and all of a sudden when you see the number, ‘Oh, I’ve been here awhile now.’ So it’s kind of fun actually but exciting as well.”

Head Coach Barry Trotz has publicly talked about Backstrom’s skill in the past, adding today, “I’ve been a big advocate of his. He’s one of the most complete players in the National Hockey League. [He's] under the radar, doesn’t get any fanfare, doesn’t get a lot of the love that he should around the league.”

When asked about what makes Backstrom so special, Trotz said, “Just his hockey IQ. He can pass the puck, he can play on both sides of the puck, he knows where it’s going before it’s actually going there … he’s got the hockey IQ that is probably one of the foremost, number one, and then the skillset comes two for me.”

Justin Peters will get the start in net for the Caps, his first for the team this season ahead of next week’s road trip through western Canada. Peters was the goalie of record against the Sharks on Tuesday; Braden Holtby was pulled in the first period after allowing three goals.

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