Washington’s poor regular season start — zero wins, two losses, 10 goals allowed — has defenseman Karl Alzner feeling out of his element.
“I almost feel like a fish out of water right now,” Alzner told CSN Washington. “I’m too busy trying to be in the right position mentally instead of just being there. I know where to be. I’m over-thinking it.
“I think a lot of guys are probably in the same boat.”
That these words are coming from Alzner says a lot. He’s been relatively error-free through his first two games, posting an even plus-minus rating and committing zero giveaways while averaging over 21 minutes a night.
(A far cry from, say, Marcus Johansson, who has a minus-3 rating through two games and leads the team with three giveaways.)
To be fair, the Caps are in the midst of a big undertaking. They’re switching their style of play to head coach Adam Oates’ preferred style — where the emphasis is on skating, pressure and forcing turnovers — but haven’t had much time to learn it.
A brief training camp and two regular season games seemingly haven’t given Washington enough time to adjust to the new style.
“When you get tired your decision making goes — that’s the first thing,” winger Troy Brouwer explained. “Your brain starts to get lazy and then everything else follows. We’re having a tough time with just being crisp, being sharp.
“Whether that’s just practice, whether that’s out of practice, whether that’s just us not paying attention to details, we gotta crack that and we gotta crack it fast.”
Get set for the Heritage Classic with hot dog facts and more
The Winnipeg Jets host the Edmonton Oilers at the 2016 Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field this afternoon. You can watch it on NHL Network, Sportsnet, TVA Sports 2 or NHL.tv at 3 p.m. ET.
With that in mind, let’s get prepped with super-important stats about unhealthy food, interesting photos and fun facts.
Want to get an in-depth look at the rivalry between the Jets and the Oilers? NHL.com and Sportsnet both have some great retrospectives.
The CBC notes that there was rain ending in the morning but it’s expected to be cloudy. Overall, sounds like a nice climate for an outdoor hockey game. NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika wonders if the sun’s glare might cause some issues.
The Arizona Coyotes received (mostly) good news on Sunday: Mike Smith‘s injury isn’t believed to be “severe,” even if he’s considered week-to-week, according to reporters including TSN’s Darren Dreger.
While Louis Domingue and Justin Peters isn’t the sort of goalie duo that will make shooters think twice about firing the puck, they’re both at least fairly experienced netminders.
(Considering Smith’s struggles with injuries and inconsistency, it’s not surprising that Arizona invested in a little insurance in Peters.)
Domingue is slated to start in net for the Coyotes against the New York Rangers on Sunday. It’s been a bumpy start for him so far, but Arizona has at least a theoretical advantage in that the Rangers played on Saturday.
As far as when Smith will be back? Well here’s a slight idea.
Dave Tippett does not think Mike Smith will be ready for home game vs. Colorado on Oct. 29, but he is not far from getting back on the ice.
Chances are, plenty of hockey fans – and maybe some members of the Colorado Avalanche – were uttering that question after Saturday night.
Well, we know this about Shane Harper: he scored his first two NHL goals at age 27, helping the Florida Panthers beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2.
You can watch both of Harper’s goals in the recap video:
Harper also drew enough ire from the Avalanche to get into a bit of a skirmish following a hit.
So, who is Shane Harper?
For one thing, he’s from Valencia, California and did not go drafted.
His best junior season came in 2009-10, when he scored 42 goals and 80 points for the Everett Silvertips. He’s become quite the seasoned AHL veteran since then, and while his numbers won’t wow you, he did do enough in 2014-15 to maybe turn a head or two. Harper scored 32 goals and 50 points for the Chicago Wolves that season.
You can tell his teammates were happy for him – gentle ribbing and all – when the media asked about his career milestone: