March 30, 2015

Washington Capitals 2013-14 Preseason Roundtable Part 2

Opening night of the 2013-14 season for the Washington Capitals is finally upon us! With that in mind, the District Sports Page Caps staff and contributors will take a look at several key areas that will affect the Caps season as they get ready to start play in the newly-formed Metropolitan Division.

The first half of our roundtable posted Friday.

Also, for your enjoyment, here are links to out position previews:

Left Wings
Right Wings

Our panelists: Dave Nichols, Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page; Katie Brown, Caps Staff Writer for DSP; Abram Fox, former Caps Page Editor at DSP, Erika Schnure, and DSP contributor; Ted Starkey, Caps author and contributor to DSP; Sky Kerstein, 106.7 The Fan and DSP contributor; and Harry Hawkings,

5) Where will Brooks Laich spend the majority of his time this season (wing, center, second line, third line, infirmary, whatever)? [Read more…]

Capitals move of Perreault risky asset management

Mathieu Perreault during warmups at Verizon Center, May 2, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Mathieu Perreault during warmups at Verizon Center, May 2, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

The Washington Capitals traded center Mathieu Perreault to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for minor league forward John Mitchell and a fourth round pick in the 2014 entry draft. With Perreault’s $1 million salary cleared from the books, the team now has cap space to keep Tom Wilson on the big squad instead of sending him back to Juniors.

There are a number of factors to consider when contemplating this deal.

First, it removes a useful, legitimate NHL player — and a center to boot — off the Caps roster. Perreault had most likely maxed in his production and contribution at this level, but he’s still a legitimate bottom six forward. He has offensive skill, which (as we’ll discuss in just a bit) is at a premium on this team.

The team immediately got less skilled as a unit with Perreault’s departure. [Read more…]

Capitals trade Mathieu Perreault to Anaheim Ducks for 2014 fourth round pick and prospect

The Capitals announced via press release that they have traded center Mathieu Perreault to the Anaheim Ducks for a 2014 fourth-round draft pick and AHL prospect John Mitchell. The move pares the Capitals roster down to the required 23, and also clears cap room for Michael Latta and prospect Tom Wilson to be on the opening night roster.

From the press release:

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have acquired a fourth-round draft pick in the 2014 NHL Draft and forward John Mitchell from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward Mathieu Perreault, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today. Mitchell will report to Hershey.

Mitchell, 27, collected 14 points (10 goals, 4 assists) and 48 penalty minutes in 61 games with the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League (AHL) last season.

Perreault recorded 17 points (6 goals, 11 assists) in 39 games with Washington last season. The Drummondville, Quebec, native tallied 70 points (33 goals, 37 assists) in 159 career NHL games with the Capitals. Perreault was drafted by Washington in the sixth round (177th overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

The Capitals open the regular season on Tuesday at United Center against the Chicago Blackhawks.


Washington Capitals Preseason Game 7: Caps win 6-3 in Friday fight night against Flyers

The latest preseason fashion seems to be fights, fights, and more fights. That didn’t change Friday night, where there were 5 total fights. At least we were spared a line brawl, but tensions flared from the puck drop to final whistle.

All told, there were  103 total  penalty minutes between the Capitals and the Flyers, including a blindside hit on Mikhail Grabovski by Flyers tough guy Zac Rinaldo that will almost certainly result in some type of discipline from the NHL.

Grabovski told reporters he saw Rinaldo coming, but it was too late to react. He was able to regroup and assist on Tom Wilson’s goal later in the game.

Interestingly enough, Wilson told reporters he “grew up watching” Grabovski play. “I know how talented of a player he is, it was nice to be on the receiving end of that pass.”

Eric Fehr continued his preseason scoring run Friday night against the Philadelphia Flyers, a deflection in the first period that beat goalie Ray Emery, who left the cage to play the puck, inadvertently passing it to the Capitals’ Mathieu Perreault. Perreault sent the puck over to Connor Carrick, who fed it to Fehr, who tapped it in while Emery was still out of position.

Alex Ovechkin scored from his wheelhouse on the power play in the first period, and Tom Wilson punched in an easy layup off Grabovski’s slick pass to make it 3-0 in the second.

The Flyers would even the score before the end of the second period with goals by Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds. No need for panic over the blown lead late in the 2nd- the Caps only dressed one of their regular defensemen Friday night, and the Flyers iced basically their regular season starting roster, minus Jakub Voracek.

In the third, Eric Fehr scored his second goal of the night, assisted by Connor Carrick, who had a three-assist night. Fehr also assisted on Ovechkin’s second power play goal.

The Capitals were able to inch ahead in the third after Fehr and Ovechkin’s tallies, winning 6-3 after an empty-net goal from Mathieu Perreault, who has played in only three of the Capitals’ seven preseason games.

” We found the groove right away,” said Perreault. “Getting a goal on the first shift gets you going.”

“We kind of slowed ourselves down in the second with all the penalties and fighting, so we got back to what we were doing in the first in the third, and we did a good job.”

Washington Capitals 2013-14 Position Preview: Center

For years, Capitals fans have been clamoring for General Manager George McPhee to do something about that pesky second-line center problem. For a while, it seemed like Marcus Johansson was being groomed for that spot, until Mike Ribiero was signed during the summer of 2012. Ribiero looked like the answer, and for a few short months, he was.

He found chemistry with Alex Ovechkin, served admirably with Troy Brouwer on the second line, and greatly contributed to the success on the Capitals’ power play. He was crafty, he was smart – a playmaker. He also wanted a long-term contract, but McPhee and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis weren’t willing to offer that.

Back to square one, right? No, back to Brooks Laich. “He’s our guy,” said McPhee in July, expressing confidence in his current roster. Several weeks later, Toronto Maple Leafs casualty Mikhail Grabovski signed with the Capitals.

Mikhail Grabovski:

Bought out by Toronto, Grabovski is the frontrunner for the second-line center spot this season, and the answer for a problem that seems to crop up every summer, though not necessarily a long-term solution, since his contract is only for one year. His 2013 season was less than stellar (9g, 7a), but that was more a product of less ice time and not being properly utilized by Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle and less a reflection of his ability. Adam Oates has plans for him to play alongside Troy Brouwer, and he will skate for the first time at Kettler Tuesday morning, after visa issues stranded him in Toronto for most of Capitals training camp. It would be interesting to see what he’s able to contribute to the power play, too.

Nicklas Backstrom:

Backstrom is a mainstay on the Capitals’ top line, and is arguably the best player on the team at any given time. Ovechkin’s goal-scoring streak in the last part of the 2013 season was, in part, fed by Backstrom’s deft hands. Backstrom’s role will probably not differ much from what’s been expected of him in the past. He’s pretty good at what he does. He had a bit of a quiet year in 2013, but look for him to bounce back to his old numbers. He’s due for a comeback this season, and playing with Ovechkin never did any harm to anyone, either. Just as Marcus Johansson.

Mathieu Perreault:

The spunky Quebecois center, who finished with a career-high 16 goals in 2011-12 (his first career hat trick that season didn’t hurt) and 6 goals last season, is a player who always works a little bit harder than everyone else, and it shows. He’s not a top-line player, but holds his own on the Capitals fourth “energy” line (a term Oates would like to steer away from), with guys like Joel Ward and Aaron Volpatti. If we’re lucky, we’ll get to see more of his wacky victory celebrations from the bench this season.

Jay Beagle:

During the 2013 lockout, Beagle worked with skating coach Wendy Marco to improve his skating prowess – and it showed. He was quicker and more agile for a player of his skill level. Typically a fourth-line grinder, Beagle’s role evolved to a shutdown center over the last few years, toughing it out with Matt Hendricks and Joel Ward. Things might look a little different on the bottom-six once the season starts, though. Oates is experimenting with Eric Fehr centering the third line in preseason, and if that project works, it could certainly change Beagle’s role in the long run.

Washington Capitals Game 46 Recap: Caps Clinch Southeast Division Title with 5-3 over Winnipeg

In a crucial late-season game for the Washington Capitals, facing the potential of clinching the Southeast Division or slipping behind the Winnipeg Jets and almost out of playoff position, the Caps put together a playoff-caliber effort in Tuesday night’s 5-3 home victory over the desperate Jets.

Spearheading Washington’s efforts were Matt Hendricks, Jason Chimera, Nicklas Backstrom, Mathieu Perreault, and Alexander Ovechkin, who each scored a goal in the victorious effort to sew up the franchise’s fifth division title in six seasons. Braden Holtby made 24 saves in the process of earning his 22nd win of the season. [Read more…]

PHOTOS: Washington Capitals Practice, March 28

Dave and I are back in DC for a visit so we went over to Kettler Iceplex on Thursday, March 28 to watch the Washington Capitals practice. The last time we saw the Caps on the ice in person was in September before the lockout. We’re looking forward to seeing a few games at Verizon Center in the next couple of weeks!

There was a scary moment when Alex Ovechkin left the ice after catching a puck with his chin. He didn’t return to practice and tweeted photos from the doctor’s office before and after the 22 stitches. Ouch.

Here are a handful of photos from practice. It was great to take hockey photos again! As always, please feel free to comment on the post. I really appreciate feedback. Thanks.

This is what hockey fans do on their spring break! - Washington Capitals practice at Kettler, 3/28/2013 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

This is what hockey fans do on their spring break! – Washington Capitals practice at Kettler, 3/28/2013 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)


[Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 16 Postgame Audio: Oates, Brouwer, Backstrom & More

WASHINGTON–The Washington Capitals are back in the basement of the NHL as they have a total collapse in the third period against the New Jersey Devils and fall 3-2.

“It’s hard,”  Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said.  “It’s very frustrating. I thought we were in pretty good control there, playing good. They came out hard in the first and we stuck with it there and that’s what we want to see from this team. It’s frustrating, what happened in the third period there.”

The Capitals committed six minors in the third, five of which put them shorthanded and they were down two men twice.

“You start the third period, you’ve got a lead, then you give them two 5-on-3s in one period, obviously that’s too much,”  Capitals Head Coach Adam Oates said.  “I thought maybe a couple of calls were tough calls. I didn’t think Alex’s was a call. Bottom line is, that’s too many. It’s been too many times.”

Capitals forward Troy Brouwer received a ten minute misconduct following the game for yelling at the officials and would not talk about the officiating following the loss.

“I’m not discussing it right now. I don’t feel like getting fined tonight.”

But Brouwer did say, “We feel like we were robbed a little bit tonight. Two points, one point, anything kind of that was taken away from us there.”

Alzner summed up the night.

“I thought we played pretty decent. Besides that first ten minutes or whatever it was. I don’t know – whatever the time was in the third – we played a good hockey game. So we take what we’ve been taking out of the games is that we’re right there. We just got to find a way to finish every game because we haven’t been doing it.”

Listen here to what Adam Oates, Troy Brouwer, Nicklas Backstrom, Karl Alzner & Mathieu Perreault had to say following the loss.

Adam Oates Postgame Audio

02-21-13 Adam Oates Postgame RAW

Troy Brouwer Postgame Audio

02-21-13 Troy Brouwer Postgame RAW

Nicklas Backstrom Postgame Audio

02-21-13 Nicklas Backstrom Postgame RAW

Karl Alzner Postgame Audio

02-21-13 Karl Alzner Postgame RAW

Mathieu Perreault Postgame Audio

02-21-13 Mathieu Perreault Postgame RAW

Washington Capitals Game 16 Recap: Caps Own Worst Enemies in 3-2 Loss to Devils

Despite twice jumping out to one-goal leads, the Washington Capitals let a lead slip away late after a succession of penalties depleted Washington’s morale which resulted in a 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils Thursday night in D.C.. Devils superstar Ilya Kovalchuk scored the game-winning goal on a 5-on-3 advantage.

Kovalchuk’s seven shots on net during the game were almost half of Washington’s 19 shots, as Caps netminder Braden Holtby was significantly busier than his counterpart on the other end of the rink, Martin Brodeur. Holtby made 34 saves on 37 shots, his record dropping to 4-6-0 on the season.

Mathieu Perreault and Mike Ribeiro both scored power play goals in the second frame to stake Washington out to 1-0 and 2-1 leads respectively, with Troy Brouwer earning a pair of assists and Nicklas Backstrom adding a single helper. Alexander Ovechkin was held off the scoresheet, but recorded four shots, four hits, committed one minor penalty and drew two of them.

[Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 14 Recap: Not wine and roses, but Caps hold on for win over Lightning

As Yogi Berra used to say, it ain’t over ’til it’s over.

The Washington Capitals, looking to get healthy on a swing through the Sunshine State, jumped out to a 4-1 lead over the home Tampa Bay Lightning midway through the third period. But in 2013, these Caps don’t do anything easy. It took a few nervous minutes at the end, but the Caps held on to a 4-3 win over Tampa, stretching their season-high winning streak to three games and finally escaping the NHL’s basement, moving into a three-way tie for 11th in the conference with 11 points (5-8-1).

The Caps were paced by Eric Fehr’s first two-goal game since 2009 and Matthieu Perreault’s career-high three assists.

The Caps got out quickly on Troy Brouwer’s power play goal on a nice feed from Perreault just a few moments in. The marker was Brouwer’s team-leading seventh of the season and it was a thing of beauty. Nicklas Backstrom corralled a pass from Mike Green along the half-wall and found Perreault behind the net. Perreault one-timed it to Brouwer in the low slot and Brouwer’s one-time got past Matthieu Giron.

Not quite halfway through the period the Lightning tied it up. A breakdown on defense led to Martin St. Louis stuffing one under Braden Holtby. St. Louis separated himself from Jason Chimera along the goal line and got two or three whacks at the puck while several Caps defenders did little but watch.

The Caps retook the lead in the second period. Joel Ward beat Matt Carle to a loose puck behind the Lightning goal and tapped it to Perreault, who bounced it off Garon right to Eric Fehr, who hit the wide open net for his second goal of the season. It was the fourth line’s fourth goal in the last three games and Fehr’s fourth point in the same time frame. It also marks the first time Fehr’s had goals in back-to-back games since the first two games of 2009.

But the trio was back at is in the third period. A little over two minutes in, Perreault broke out and fed a streaking Fehr on the right wing for a big slap shot that evaded Garon’s glove hand to stretch the lead to 3-1. The second tally marked Fehr’s first two-goal game since March 9, 2011. With the helper, Perreault notched the first three-assist game of his career.

 Five minutes later, during a goal-mouth scrum, Jay Beagle was able to wedge the puck out from underneath a prone Garon and swipe the puck into the net for his first goal of the season and push the lead to 4-1. The replay showed that Garon pretty well had possession and the refs should have probably whistled the play dead, but the Caps were beneficiaries of the extended play.

At the time, it seemed like icing on the cake. Little did the Caps know that goal would prove to be critical.

Tampa Bay found their legs late in the third period with the help of a lucky bounce and questionable decision-making by Holtby.

Teddy Purcell gathered a loose puck behind the Caps net and flung it toward the goal from below the goal line. The puck bounced off a Caps defender’s skate and slipped behind Holtby, cutting the lead to 4-2. Four minutes later, St. Louis sprung Nate Thompson on a breakaway. Holtby (27 saves) came 15 feet out of his crease to try to poke-check the puck, by Thompson easily evaded Holtby’s stick, skated around the fallen goalie, and dumped a backhander into the yawning net.

The Lightning kept up the pressure after that, smelling blood in the water as the Caps spent the remainder of the game scrambling around in their own end. But the equalizer never came, allowing Washington to escape Florida’s Gulf Coast with two points intact and their first three-game winning streak of the season.

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