F Street Faithful
It has come to light that Washington Capitals majority owner Ted Leonsis will make a large announcement on Saturday at the Capitals Convention. There is some speculation as to what this is, but Sky Kerstein of 106.7 The Fan tweeted the above just moments ago. Maybe it’s the Classic, maybe it isn’t. Either way, it looks like outdoor hockey might be coming to the Nation’s capital next season.
For the second time in three years, the Washington Capitals took a short trip up I-95 to play a preseason game in Charm City. This time around, it was the Boston Bruins paying a visit to the hockey-starved city. Baltimore welcomed the Caps with open arms, even chucking a crab on the ice after a Washington goal. Yet again the Capitals found themselves playing more than the mandated 60 minutes, going all the way to their 3rd consecutive shootout, this one going 7 skaters. As was the case last time NHL hockey was played in Baltimore, the Capitals could not send them home with win, falling 3-2 in the shootout.
Washington Goals: Wilson (1), Wellman (1)
Boston Goals: Florek, Kelly
The Washington Capitals opened up their preseason schedule last night with a 4-3 shootout victory against the Winnipeg Jets. It might have been played on an Olympic-sized rink with a lot of rookies, but it's still our first chance to see our boys play in 4 months.
Washington Goals: Hillen (1), Galiev (1), Brouwer, PP (1)
Winnipeg Goals: Kane (1), Kosmachuk (1), Kane (2)
A scary moment early on as Alexander Ovechkin was basically force-fed the stick of Winnipeg rookie Ben Chiarot on a dump-in follow through. A bloody Ovechkin went back to the dressing room, but returned to the ice before the 4-minute power play expired. No serious damage, but still not something you want to see in a preseason game.
Rumors circulating over the past couple of days have come true as the Washington Capitals have signed unrestricted free agent center Mikhail Grabovski to a one-year deal worth roughly $3 million. The move comes as a bit of a surprise as it had appeared that George McPhee was standing pat with the roster that he had. He even went as fair as to name Brooks Laich as the second-line center for the upcoming season. That probably is not the case anymore.
This should be nothing of a slight against Brooks Laich, but Mikhail Grabovski gives the Capitals a legitimate player to fill the hole left when Mike Ribeiro bolted for the desert. Grabovski, 29, has all the makings of a scoring center, if he can stay healthy. His best season came in 2010-2011 when he racked up 29 goals and 29 assists in 81 games with Toronto. He has scored 20+ goals in all 3 seasons in which he played more than 60 games. If his NHL numbers last season are combined with his KHL numbers, he actually posted a respectable 21 goals and 19 assists in 77 games.
The National Hockey League released the 2013-2014 schedule moments ago. You can take a look at the Capitals’ schedule here. Some quick thoughts on the upcoming road:
Two Banner Games?
The Washington Capitals will open the season playing in Chicago watching the Chicago Blackhawks raise their 5th Stanley Cup Champion banner on October 1. Two nights later, they could raise the last Southeast Division Champion banner ever as they host the Calgary Flames. The Capitals’ first three opponents are “Western” teams.
The Washington Capitals have announced that they have re-signed defenseman Karl Alzner to a 4-year contract. The contract is worth $11.2 million, with an annual cap hit of $2.8 million. With Alzner back under contract, it leaves Marcus Johansson as the only major RFA left to sign. With around $5.6 million left in cap space, Johansson should be extended shortly.
As much as people, myself included, point to the importance of the Capitals finding a second-line center, re-signing Alzner was just as important. Even if re-signing RFAs has become little more than a formality, it’s still nice to see one less thing for the Caps to worry about. He has shown himself to be the most consistent blueliner the Caps have and, at 24, is just entering the prime of his career. The stability he brought to the top pairing was a huge reason for Mike Green rediscovering his form, aside from Green simply being healthy. I’d imagine he will see most of his time this season again with Green.
With Alzner back in the fold, it leaves the Capitals with 8 blueliners capable of contributing at the NHL level, although only Green, Alzner, and Carlson would be described as top-4 quality. With the lack of options on the free agency market, the Caps should strongly consider trying to put together some package (with maybe a Jason Chimera or even Michal Neuvirth) for a true top-4 defenseman. What is the future for Dmitri Orlov? Can we really expect Steven Oleksy to contribute like he did last year? Hopefully, the Jeff Schultz buyout taught them when to move a guy.
It was just over a year ago that George McPhee finally got what he had been looking for. In trading Cody Eakin and a second-round pick to Dallas, he ended his search for a legitimate second-line center. Mike Ribeiro was pretty much everything the Capitals had been looking for since Fedorov retired. And unlike the previous experiment with the likes of Brendan Morrison, Ribeiro actually produced. Through the first quarter of the season, Ribeiro was arguably the only Capital producing, to the point where he actually usurped the first-line center role away from Nicklas Backstrom. When the rest of the team finally awoke from their lockout slumber, Ribeiro settled nicely into that second line, helping Troy Brouwer surpass his goal total from last year.
Yet here we are. A place we all knew was coming. It had been clear since the trade deadline that Mike Ribeiro wanted that “last contract”. At 33 years of age, he was looking for a team who was willing to give him at least 4 years, with a decent salary to boot. With the salary cap dropping a substantial amount next season, the Capitals appeared unable to give Ribeiro what he wanted. Both sides had been talking extensively lately, but to no avail as Renaud Lavoie has reported that the Capitals will allow Ribeiro to hit the free agent market come this Friday.
So, here we are again. One year later, and no second-line center. Here are some of the options the Capitals have with regard to filling Ribeiro’s void.
Note: This post was written in complete and total anger. It very well might be nothing more than the babbling of a mad man. After I’ve cooled off, I’ll post a more levelheaded review.
I don’t know why I let myself buy into this. For 90% of the season, I firmly believed this team was not a Stanley Cup team. When they made the move for Erat (don’t get me started on that again), I said it made no sense for a non-contender team to make that move. And yet, here I am. Sitting in complete disgust after they laid a massive egg against the Rangers in Game 7. Disgust at the product I just saw on the ice and that I was dumb enough to buy it.
Every Cap fan knew that we would see a different Ranger team now that the series has shifted to New York. The Ranger offense had been so anemic that, logically, it could only improve. The question would only be whether or not the Capitals could continue their defensive success. The answer, as we learned last night, was not what we would have hoped.
Prior to the game, Braden Holtby voices some of his concerns with the Capitals being “too loose” going into Game 3. Ten minutes into the game, it seemed his concerns were unfounded. The Caps had already killed off yet another Ranger power play and were already up 1-0 thanks to Nicklas Backstrom. But then, the looseness seemed to arise. And sure enough, Brian Boyle leveled the scoring as a Ranger power play expired. A power play that the Caps had effectively limited.
It just had to be the Rangers, didn’t it? As if both teams had not had enough of each other over the past five playoffs. It honestly does not feel like there are any story lines left to see play out. We’ve seen rookie goalies stand on their heads (Varlamov and Holtby). We’ve seen a team completely collapse in practically no time (Joel Ward double minor). We’ve even had to answer the question of which team had the loudest fans. Is there anything we haven’t seen? I guess we’ll find out starting Thursday. ON TO THE BREAKDOWN!
About F Street Faithful
Welcome to the home of the F Street Faithful, run by Matthew Tate. This is a go-to blog for all things related to the Washington Capitals. The F Street Faithful is 5% news and 95% breaking down the news.
In the past I have written for several other sports blogs as well as the college newspaper while at York College of Pennsylvania. I am a graduate of York College of Pennsylvania but am based out of Southern Maryland.
You can follow me on twitter @FStreetTate but I must warn that I do tweet about more than hockey. You can also e-mail me at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.