Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, Alex Ovechkin

Caps need ‘better effort from the top guys,’ says one of their top guys


The Washington Capitals may have won four of their last five and put themselves right back in the playoff picture, but not all of them are satisfied with how they’re playing.

“I think something that the first two lines need to do is look at our third line,” center Nicklas Backstrom said, per the Washington Post.

“They’re cycling the puck, and off that they create chances. I think our first lines haven’t been doing that, not the whole year. That’s something we need to do. We’ve been talking about it but we need a better effort from the top guys for sure.”

In a related story, CSN Washington notes that the Caps have been winning despite a lack of goals from one Alex Ovechkin, who has just three tallies — all of them on the power play — in his last 11 games.

No doubt, some of that has to do with coach Adam Oates’ decision to move grinding center Jay Beagle — he of the 14 career assists — onto Ovechkin’s line.

But there was a reason Oates did that:

Before he was united with Beagle, Ovechkin was a minus player in nine straight games for a combined minus-14. In his last three games he’s been even on the plus-minus sheet, which means he’s not watching other teams score, a problem evidenced by his minus-31 rating.

The Caps host Los Angeles tonight before welcoming the Bruins to town Saturday.

With Toronto in collapse mode, Columbus treading water, and Detroit still badly banged up, there’s renewed optimism in DC, regardless of how the wins are being earned.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.