August 22, 2019

Caps Quick Take: Game 13 vs. Flyers

In the last of their five-game road trip, the Washington Capitals survived another slow start, then jumped all over the Philadelphia Flyers, with five goals in the second period, to beat Philly 7-0. Things were going swimmingly until early in the third period, when Philly did what Philly does, running at players and starting a line brawl, as Ray Emery lost his head, stormed all the way down the ice and pummeled Braden Holtby as the linesmen kept any Caps player from stepping in.

1) First things first. The Caps played their best 20 minutes of the season in that middle stanza. Playing the woeful Flyers helped, but Washington dominated play like they haven’t all season. Extended offensive zone possessions. Cutting off the opponent at the blue line. Goals galore. Just fun to watch, especially against the competition. [Read more…]

OPINION: Banishment of fighting is coming, and it’s none too soon

Monday night, the Washington Capitals went up to Boston to take on the Bruins in a seemingly meaningless preseason game. The Caps took their full second line and their top goalie, but that’s just about the reach of NHL talent that went on the road trip.

What happened, then, when a bunch of young guys and career minor leaguers trying to make names for themselves went up against the big, bad Bruins? You guessed it — Fight Night!

There were five fights in all, two by Joel Rechlicz, who makes his living doing just this sort of thing in Hershey, one by Aaron Volpatti (trying — probably in vain — to earn a coveted forward spot on Opening night), and one each by minor leaguers Michal Cajkovski and Dane Byers.

Coming on the heels of the debacle in Toronto Sunday night, this was just yet another embarrassment for the league and everyone involved.

I should confess — I don’t like fighting. I think it’s unnecessary and outdated. It’s a tie to the dark ages of the game when stick swinging and other nefarious acts were perpetrated on rinks from PEI to Saskatoon. Well, we’ve still got that crap too, as we saw Zack Kassian try to decapitate Sam Gagner Saturday night.

Here’s a gratuitous picture of Gagner’s face following the incident.

The league has had continual problems with intentional head shots, elbows, stick swinging and concussions, and the fighting that’s supposed to curb that doesn’t seem to do a damn thing. It never has.

Fighting continues because it’s part of the entertainment value of the game. Pure and simple.

Let me rephrase — I don’t like staged fighting. If two guys get tangled up or are pushing for position and they start to swing at each other out of aggression naturally and organically, I’m okay with that. That’s part of the game. It’s physical and fast and there are occasions when guys are going to be overcome with adrenaline or feel they’ve been taken advantage of.

I don’t want to take checking out of the game. I don’t want to take away the contact. I want the stupidity removed.

The retribution fights, and the “momentum” fights and the fighting for fighting’s sake fights, or the immature stupidity on display Sunday in Toronto? That’s the part of the game that we can, and should, live without.

I’ve heard ad nauseum the adage that if you take fighting out of the game, headhunters will have a field day. Well, let me tell you, Rene Bourque is still employed even with the fighting. If staged fighting was eliminated, all the league would have to do is enforce rules ALREADY ON THEIR BOOKS about head shots and intentional attempts to injure.

You injure a player with an illegal hit? You suffer the consequences of suspension and loss of paycheck. Repeat offender? Sit the rest of the season. Third offense? You miss the following year. Get where I’m going with this? But it will be up to the league to take the suspension process seriously.

The league instituted the silly rule this season that players cannot remove their helmets to fight. Coupled with the new visor rule for all incoming players, it’s supposed to be a deterrent from staged fighting. But we’ve already seen in the preseason where combatants are removing their opponent’s headgear before proceeding to pummel each other into early retirement. It would be comically asinine, except for the early dementia, depression, drug addiction and early death for so many of these multiply-concussed fighters.

The league doesn’t have the, ahem, testicular fortitude to ban fighting — yet — because they are painfully aware that a large segment of their fan base wants to see the violence. In its rich history, the league has yet to have a player die on the ice from a fight. It’s only a matter of time, unfortunately.

With the concussion problem, and former fighters dying at still-young ages after their playing days are over, the league knows they have to do something. They’ve seen the results of the NFL concussion lawsuits. It’s only a matter of time before those lawyers organize retired NHL players for their own suits. Think I’m crazy? You haven’t been around enough plaintiff’s lawyers. A $650 million settlement for the NHL, as was the case for the NFL, would kill the league as we now know it.

As much lip service as the league is giving “player safety”, the real reason for the helmet law is to set a timeline that limits the statute of limitations for lawsuits. Banishment of staged fighting is coming, whether you like it or not. It can’t come soon enough for me.

Washington Capitals Game 27 Recap: Caps bruised and bloodied in Boston in 4-1 beatdown

In an ugly, physical, brawling game — exactly how the Boston Bruins want to play — the Washington Capitals were beat up in every sense of the word. The Bruins owned the scoresheet, the fight scorecard, and the decision — handily — beating the Caps 4-1 before a raucous TD Garden St. Patrick’s weekend crowd.

Boston’s top line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton were called out by their coach recently for their spate of poor play. Apparently, the trio took it to heart and took it out on the Caps, as the line was on the ice for all four Boston goals today, and even scored the lone Washington goal, as Krejci tried to defend a pass by Marcus Johansson and instead deflected the puck off the boot of defenseman Johnny Boychuk into the Bruins goal for the Caps lone tally.

Johansson got credit for the goal, and it makes sense the way his season has gone that his second goal of the season would be awarded on a play where he didn’t intend to shoot the puck. [Read more…]

“Wrecker” provides presence and deterrance — and nothing else

The Washington Capitals recalled “forward” Joel Rechlicz Monday in anticipation of a three-game road trip.  The 6’4″, 220 Rechlicz, 24 (and known of course as “Wrecker”), has one goal and one assist this season with AHL Hershey.  He also happens to lead the AHL in penalty minutes with 184 in 27 games.  Last season, he had 132 PIMs in 28 games with the Bears.

Rechlicz had a cup of coffee with a terrible Islanders team in ’08-’09, accumulating one assist and 95 PIMs in 23 games.  Other than that, Wrecker has bounced around the “A” beating people up his entire pro career.

I’ve never met Joel Rechlicz.  He may be full of the most wonderful leadership-y intangibles imaginable.  But his contribution on the ice is nothing more than the willingness to trade punches.  He doesn’t add “toughness” to the Caps’ actual play, because he spends his entire shift either looking for the other team’s tough guy or dropping them right off a face-off in a staged altercation. [Read more…]

Capitals recall fighter Joel Rechlicz from AHL Hershey

On the first day back from the NHL All-Star break, the Washington Capitals made a move to address what apparently some in the organization felt was a need, signing and recalling noted pugilist Joel Rechlicz from AHL Hershey and placing the 24 year old forward on the active roster.  He will wear No. 54 for the Caps.

Joel Rechlicz at Caps Training Camp in Sept. 2011 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Rechlicz, known for his hammer fists in the “A”, has one goal and one assist in 27 games with Hershey this season.  He leads the AHL in penalty minutes with 184.  Last season for the Bears, Rechlicz played 28 games and posted one goal and 132 PIMs.

Rechlicz has accumulated 562 penalty minutes in 105 career AHL games with Hershey, Bridgeport and Albany.  The 6’4″, 220-pound forward played 23 HNL games with the New York Islanders in the 2008-09 season, with one assist and 95 penalty minutes.

Eakin, 20, has collected eight points (four goals, four assists) and a plus-three rating in 27 NHL games this season. He made his NHL debut on Nov. 1 vs. Anaheim and recorded his first NHL point (an assist) and scored his first NHL goal on Nov. 4 at Carolina.

Just by looking at his stats, one can tell that the only “skill” Rechlicz brings to the Capitals is his fighting skills and he uses them whenever he gets the chance.  It’s interesting — and maybe a little distressing — that the Caps feel like they need this type of presence on the team these days.  Of course, the way Coach Dale Hunter has employed his fourth line, it’s not like Rechlicz will be taking up the roster space of anyone that was playing a whole lot anyway.

Of course, this could just be a temporary situation, with the Caps on the road this week against Tampa Bay and Montreal, with noted antagonists Steve Downie and Rene Bourque.  Regardless, Rechlicz won’t play more than four minutes a night and will only be asked to punch someone when he does get a sweater.

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Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Nats and the Caps, and previously wrote Nats News Network and Caps News Network. Dave’s first sports hero was Bobby Dandridge. Follow Dave’s Capitals coverage on Twitter @CapitalsDSP.

HERSHEY BEARS: FIGHT NIGHT (PHOTOS)

“Saturday night’s alright for fighting. Get a little action in.” – Elton John

With the Caps on the road, I decided to make the trip up to Hershey, PA to take in a Bears game. The Hershey Bears hosted the Adirondack Phantoms (Flyers affiliate) in front of almost 11,ooo fans. Saturday night was a re-match of Friday’s AHL Outdoor game at Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia where the Bears fell to the Phantoms in OT.

You know the old joke “I Went To A Fight and a Hockey Game Broke Out?” That saying pretty much sums up the mayhem at Giant Center on Saturday night (see list of penalties below with a total of 154 PIMs). The game was chippy from the start, maybe some residual emotion from the Outdoor Classic. Bears prevailed this time though, with a 5-2 win over Phantoms.

Here are a sample of photos. Will post additional ones later (hotel connection is slow).

Brandon Manning started things up with Jacob Micflikier, causing spin-off brawls (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

After Ben Holstrom starting things up with Keith Aucoin, Aucoin got in a solid punch (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Tempers flare towards end of third period (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Bears teammates cheer on Zack Miskovic during his brawl Brandon Manning, part of the

Blood on Zack Miskovic

LIST OF PENALTIES:

1st V J. Kalinski 2.00 Hooking 1:31
1st V K. Marshall 5.00 Fighting 11:12
1st H A. Carroll 5.00 Fighting 11:12
1st H J. Rechlicz 10.00 Misconduct – Unsportsmanlike conduct (75.4) 11:12
1st H K. Greentree 2.00 Cross-checking 12:17
1st H J. Micflikier 2.00 Unsportsmanlike conduct 16:06
1st V B. Holmstrom 2.00 Interference 16:09
1st H R. Potulny 2.00 Slashing 18:49
2nd H J. Micflikier 2.00 Hooking 14:08
2nd V T. Brown 2.00 Tripping 17:29
3rd V C. Eddy 2.00 Tripping 1:12
3rd V B. Manning 2.00 Roughing 2:01
3rd H J. Micflikier 2.00 Roughing 2:01
3rd V B. Holmstrom 2.00 Roughing 13:06
3rd V B. Holmstrom 2.00 Roughing 13:06
3rd H K. Aucoin 2.00 Roughing 13:06
3rd V T. Brown 2.00 Roughing 16:30
3rd V T. Brown 2.00 Roughing 16:30
3rd V C. Eddy 5.00 Fighting 16:30
3rd V C. Eddy 10.00 Game misconduct – Secondary altercation (46.6) 16:30
3rd V O. Lauridsen 10.00 Misconduct – Unsportsmanlike conduct (75.4) 16:30
3rd V B. Manning 5.00 Fighting 16:30
3rd V T. Sestito 5.00 Fighting 16:30
3rd V T. Sestito 10.00 Game misconduct – Fighting off the playing surface (46.7) 16:30
3rd H A. Carroll 2.00 Roughing 16:30
3rd H A. Carroll 2.00 Roughing 16:30
3rd H Z. Miskovic 5.00 Fighting 16:30
3rd H J. Rechlicz 5.00 Fighting 16:30
3rd H J. Rechlicz 10.00 Misconduct – Continuing altercation (46.5) 16:30
3rd H J. Rechlicz 10.00 Misconduct – Unsportsmanlike conduct (75.4) 16:30
3rd H J. Rechlicz 10.00 Game misconduct – Unsportsmanlike conduct (75.5(i)) 16:30
3rd H D. Richmond 5.00 Fighting 16:30
3rd H D. Richmond 10.00 Game misconduct – Secondary altercation (46.6) 16:30

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