December 4, 2021

Washington Capitals Practice Update: Fehr out, Johansson iffy

Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz addressed the media Monday about the Caps’ newest injuries. Trotz announced forward Eric Fehr will be out at lest two games [ed. There are currently just two games scheduled] with an upper-body injury sustained in Sunday’s Game 3 when Islanders forward Kyle Okposo checked Fehr hard into the boards.

Trotz also said this injury is not related to the injury that forced Fehr out of three games at the end of the regular season.

Forward Marcus Johansson was limited in practice due to a lower-body injury, reportedly a cut o n his lower leg sustained after colliding with Cal Clutterbuck in Game 3. Johansson played through the injury Sunday but is iffy for Game 4.

The Caps have forwards Michael Latta and Andre Burakovsky in reserve. Latta seems to be the more logical fill-in for Fehr and the rookie Burakovsky could get the call should Johansson’s leg be deemed not fit for Game 4.

The Caps trail the Islanders 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

Washington Capitals Game 2 Recap: Caps score twice in third, shock Islanders

Down 3-1, and having given up a critical goal shortly after tallying their much-needed first, the Washington Capitals were in very dire straits and at risk of falling behind the New York Islanders two games to none in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Spurred on by their fans as well as improved puck control, they ensured that talk of a potential sweep would be just that – talk.

A spirited final 30 minutes of hockey, in which Washington scored three unanswered goals in a space of 11 minutes and 28 seconds (spanning two periods), lifted Washington to a 4-3 win in Game 2 of their best-of-seven series against the Islanders in front of a raucous crowd Friday night at Verizon Center.

[Read more…]

Washington Capitals Morning Skate Update & Audio for April 17, 2015: Philipp Grubauer, Justin Peters and Barry Trotz

Arlington, Va. – No shortage of news at Kettler Capitals Iceplex this morning, with the Washington Capitals set to take on the New York Islanders in the second game of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Caps goalie Braden Holtby did not take the ice, with precautionary measures in place for someone who’s been a key cog for Washington so far this season.

[Read more…]

Washington Capitals Round 1 Preview: Caps look for redemption in series against Isles

Caps Head Coach Barry Trotz addressing media after Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

Caps Head Coach Barry Trotz addressing media after morning skate at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

The Washington Capitals face the New York Islanders in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, starting tonight at the Verizon Center. That last part is key, as the Caps won home-ice advantage for this round on the last day of the regular season. It’s a far cry from last year, as the Caps at this time were cleaning out their lockers after missing the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons.

Obviously, a LOT has changed since then. The coach of last year’s team, Adam Oates, was summarily dismissed. Long-time general manager George McPhee was relieved of his duties as well. In came Brian MacLellan and Barry Trotz, entrusted to get the organization back into the postseason, and they were largely successful in their first seasons in their positions.

They brought with them a new coaching staff, several new defensemen, and made a series of moves at the trade deadline to bolster the team’s chances down the stretch.

The organizational goal of reaching the postseason was realized with several games left in the regular season, with a very tight Metro Division and Eastern Conference unsettled until the very last. It’s a redemptive measure for the organization, but especially for the players that returned from last year’s team that failed to attain the goal.

After today’s morning skate before Game 1 of the series against the Islanders, several members of the organization spoke about the significance of getting back into the playoffs, and the redemptive nature of earning home-ice advantage for the first round against the Isles.

“When you don’t make [the playoffs], you feel pretty hollow,” Trotz said. He was speaking about a couple of players newer to the organization playing in their first playoffs in a few seasons, but it’s a sentiment that has echoed around Verzion Center and Kettler since last April.

“I think getting back into the [playoff] fray was the number one priority for the group,” said Trotz. “But we hung around in that wildcard position for, it seemed like, 200 days. And then we just said ‘Hey, we gotta ramp it up’ at the end so we were playing well and we did. By doing that we got home-ice advantage. We’ll see if that is a factor in series at all.”

Despite the strong veteran contingent, the Caps rely on some younger players that haven’t participated in this type of atmosphere.

“We’re excited,” veteran winger Joel Ward said. “It’s a good chance for new guys to step in and play at home first and just get their feet wet a little bit and get excited and understand the crowd. We’re stoked for the opportunity to start at home and going to embrace it and hopefully come out with a win tonight.”

For the older players, making the playoffs and earning home-ice for the first round reaffirms what they believe about themselves, the team and the organization.

“We were unhappy with where we were last year.” Troy Brouwer said. “We were packing our bags right now [this time last year] and going home. We wanted to get ourselves back into a playoff situation. We did a good job coming back in the middle of the season and putting ourselves in a good spot to get home-ice in the first round.

“We worked hard since this time last year to get where we are right now. We don’t want to see our efforts diminished. We want to play hard and win.”

This franchise has had its share of demons in the playoffs. Just once in 40 years has it escaped the second round. The history of first round exits and series defeats after holding 3-1 series lead is staggering. It’s hard to write about the excitement of a new playoff series without dredging up old wounds.

Perhaps, missing out on the second season last year will allow the Caps to have a rebirth in the playoffs. You won’t find a single pundit or prognosticator calling for the Caps to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup after a long and grueling playoffs. These Caps come in as something of an underdog.

As Eric Fehr pointed out, they didn’t clinch home-ice until after the Islanders lost a shootout on the last day of the season, so it’s not like they should be seen as prohibitive favorites despite the advantage.

But maybe these Caps, molded in the style of Trotz, will be a better fit for the grinding style of the playoffs.

Trotz was asked what could be the difference in a playoff series, especially one played between two team so close in the standings during the regular season.

“The team that’s willing to stay with it longer. If you’re very even, the team that can execute when they get those moments, those defining moments — a save, a good look, a power play, whatever — there’s gonna be a lot of defining moments. The ones that can grasp those moments, they’re the teams that generally win.”

Starting tonight, the Capitals try once again to be the team that capitalize on those defining moments. History hasn’t been very kind to them in these opportunities. But with the new structure, coaching staff, and style of play, maybe — just maybe — these Caps are better built to take advantage of those moments.

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For a photo gallery of today’s morning skate, click here.

History repeating: Burakovsky’s overdue move to AHL reflects Caps poor development plan

Assistant Coach Blaine Forsythe and Andre Burakovsky Washington Capitals Practice, 10/07/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Assistant Coach Blaine Forsythe and Andre Burakovsky
Washington Capitals Practice, Oct. 17, 2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

As soon as the Washington Capitals traded for Curtis Glencross, it was only a matter of time before Andre Burakovsky found himself in Hershey. The young winger has cycled between the top line and press box for much of the season and once the team had one more forward than they could fit into the roster it wasn’t hard to guess who the odd man out was.

But after spending the season at the NHL level and compiling nine goals and 12 assists in 49 games, is sending Burakovsky back to the AHL the right move for his development? [Read more…]

Dealing with the Devils: Why trading for Jaromir Jagr makes little sense

The NHL deadline is fast approaching and the Washington Capitals are in need of a right wing. It just so happens that the New Jersey Devils stink and have a pretty good right wing on the last year of his contract.

That wing, of course, is Jaromir Jagr.

Of all the players the Caps could target at the deadline, Jagr is the most intriguing given his history with the team.

Jagr came to Washington amid much fanfare and excitement in 2001. After two lackluster seasons, he was traded to the New York Rangers as the Caps dismantled their team in order to rebuild.

Now with the team in need of a right wing, many are wondering if Jagr could return to Washington in a deadline deal.

[Read more…]

Plugging the right wing hole on the Caps’ top line

Marcus Johansson Washington Capitals Practice, 10/07/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Marcus Johansson
Washington Capitals Practice, 10/07/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

The Washington Capitals may still have 28 games remaining in the regular season, but make no mistake, head coach Barry Trotz is already thinking about line combinations for the postseason.

It would be premature to call the Caps a ‘lock’ to make the playoffs, but at the very least they will be playing some meaningful games down the stretch of the regular season. Trotz needs to have his best line combinations set for when the team really needs to pick up points.

The problem, however, is that there is a big gaping hole on the right side of his top line as the Caps don’t currently employ a top-line right wing.

As the trade deadline approaches, Trotz and general manager Brian MacLellan will have to determine if that right wing is even on the roster, and if he is, who will it be. [Read more…]

Why Beagle? Exploring the Caps most curious top line winger

Jay Beagle during warmups at Verizon Center (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Jay Beagle during warmups at Verizon Center (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Head coach Barry Trotz has tried just about everyone at right wing on the top line, but no one creates more reaction than when Jay Beagle is given the nod.

Trotz is not the first coach to try this tactic. Adam Oates famously paired Beagle with Ovechkin as the top line center much to the horror of the hockey community. The reaction was so negative some touted this decision as one of the main reasons why Oates should be fired.

With a competent coach now in charge of the team, many thought the days of Beagle on the top line were over, but in the merry-go-round of forwards to play on the right of the top line, Beagle has certainly had his fair share of opportunities. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 48 Recap: Holtby’s 27 saves help Capitals blank Penguins 4-0

Like many teams after the All-Star break, Washington Capitals couldn’t seem to find their footing. Before the break, they lost three straight games, and that spilled over to their first game back in Columbus.

After four straight losses, three in regulation, it almost looked like time to worry. A 4-0 drubbing of the Pittsburgh Penguins appears to have righted the ship, for the time being. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 44 Recap: Niskanen turnover spoils Trotz’ return to Nashville

James Neal converted a bad turnover by former Pittsburgh Penguins teammate Matt Niskanen with 100 seconds left in the game for his second goal of the night, and the Nashville Predators skated away with a 4-3 decision over the Washington Capitals in Caps’ coach Barry Trotz’ return to Music City.

Trotz was coach of Nashville for the first 15 years of the team’s existence. The Predators showed a moving tribute to the only coach the franchise had until this past offseason during the first TV timeout and their fans responded with a long standing ovation — extending into the start of play after the next faceoff.

It’s the first loss in regulation for the Caps since Dec. 23.

On the ice, the game looked like a possible playoff preview.

Nashville took a 2-0 lead on goals by Seth Jones and Neal, but Alex Ovechkin tied the game with a pair of goals less than two minutes apart in the second period against Carter Hutton, starting for injured All-World goalie Pekke Rinne, who’s out 4-to-6 weeks with a lower body injury.

The Caps (24-12-8) went up 3-2 early in the third period on Marcus Johansson’s 13th goal of the season. The Predators responded with a power play goal from Mattias Ekholm with 4:29 left, as John Carlson sat in the box on a questionable tripping call in a very physical game.

Braden Holtby made 26 saves. The Caps announced before the game that Holtby will break his consecutive start streak of 21 games Saturday night against Dallas, just one short of the team record.

Notes and observations:
  • The turnover by Niskanen leading to the game-winner was brutal. BRU-TAL. He was face-up to Neal, who was pressuring him on the forecheck near the right wing faceoff circle and essentially handed him the puck, allowing Neal to take one stride and whip it past the defenseless Holtby. You expect better decision-making from your top blueliner, and Niskanen assumed all responsibility for it afterwards. That’s nice, but it’s a play that cost his team a point and feeling bad after playing a good game against a very tough team.
  • Both of Ovechkin’s goals were from the “Ovi Spot” in the left wing circle. The first came at full-strength on a feed from Karl Alzner, the second on a power play from Mike Green. Ovechkin now has 24 goals on the season.
  • The first period was pretty ragged on both sides, but once the Caps woke up in the second period they fairly dominated possession. All well and good, as it signals they still played a strong game on the road. But it also illustrates the glaring mistakes at the end of the game which cost them a point.
  • It might not have come down to those mistakes had it not been for Braden Holtby playing out of his mind on a couple of occasions. He’s completely locked in and really showing why the Caps organization had so much faith in him for so long.
  • How about Marcus Johansson?
  • Eric Fehr was a late scratch due to a lower body injury. He took warmups but wasn’t able to go. Michael Latta took his place at third line center.
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