Winter Classic was a ‘good day’ for the Washington Capitals


WASHINGTON — The Washington Capitals know they didn’t win the Stanley Cup today.

They know they only get two points for the victory, just like any other regular-season game.

And while they may not admit it publicly, they probably know deep down they were fortunate to be on the power play when Troy Brouwer scored the deciding goal with only seconds remaining.

Still, today’s 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Winter Classic was a big win for the Caps. Not only because of the venue — a sold-out, red-clad Nationals Park, with almost 43,000 in attendance — but because of the team they defeated.

“The game didn’t feel like a regular-season game,” said forward Brooks Laich. “It felt a lot more special, a lot more important than your standard regular-season game. The bench, when Brow scored, just erupted. Fans erupted. Then we were going, ‘OK, just 13 seconds, just fight and die to win this hockey game. Whatever we need to do to win this hockey game.'”

Defenseman Mike Green is hoping that beating a team like the ‘Hawks, on a national stage like the Winter Classic provides, can propel his own club forward.

“They’re an amazing hockey team,” said Green. “They really are. They’re the cream of the crop right now.

“It was important that we got our two points. We’ve got to put ourselves in a position where we’re in the playoffs and we can give ourselves a chance to compete against teams like this in the playoffs. We take pride in today’s win and we’ll use that momentum going forward.”

Perspective, though.

“I don’t want to make this more than it is,” said Caps owner Ted Leonsis. “I’m hoping that we can be a franchise that can accomplish bigger things than winning the Winter Classic. But it does feel good to have the league believe in us.

“I think this was the best Winter Classic. When you look at the quality of the play, the speed of the game, the quality of the ice. I thought the weather was perfect. And to win at the buzzer basically makes for great theater, great drama. We get out before the Rose Bowl, or whatever’s going to start in a little bit, and everyone gets to drive home when it’s still light out.

“It was a good day.”

The Caps missed the playoffs last season for the first time since 2007. Unlike today, those were not good days, as fingers were pointed and jobs were lost.

While the Caps understand they still have a ways to go before they can claim a spot among the NHL’s elite, today was a confidence-builder.

“In the past, if we have a two-goal lead and we lose it, sometimes we would wilt,” said Leonsis. “And I didn’t see any of that. I didn’t feel any lack of confidence from anyone on the team. I thought we were the better team today, and we deserved the two points.”

For Caps and Ovechkin, 2015 Winter Classic is another sign ‘everything has changed’


In a sprawling feature for regarding the 2015 Winter Classic, Alex Ovechkin discusses how far the Washington Capitals franchise has come since his rookie season. He states that “everything has changed.”

Really, though, the same could be said for his game and his team on the ice.

“Our group of guys here now are more mature,” Ovechkin said. “We’re ready to take a big step. It’s something when you’re growing up you can see how it’s changed. It’s a great thing when you’re a part of it. Me and Brooks and Greenie are the only three guys that have been here after the [2004-05] lockout.

“I’ve been growing up. I get mature. I get older. I look at the game in a different way right now. It’s hard to explain. When I’m on the ice I want to do something different than I did the first couple years.”

Ovechkin, 29, was speaking about Brooks Laich and Mike Green in that quote. Laich had some interesting insight on the Capitals star’s goals, noting that Ovechkin’s trophy case is full of individual awards, so his sights are absolutely set on accolades regarding team play.

While Laich has seen that metamorphosis first hand, head coach Barry Trotz is in his first season guiding Ovechkin, yet he’s had glowing reviews about the winger’s willingness to adapt.

” … I don’t know that there’s been a physical superstar like Alex in the league since, I don’ know, [Eric] Lindros when he was young?” Trotz said.

“[Mark] Messier, maybe? Those guys are few and far between. Usually, the high-end guys aren’t as physical as Alex. He doesn’t get intimidated. It’s funny. The harder you are on him the more revved up he gets, which is sort of cool with a star. There are times he reverts to some of his old habits, but a lot of those things have been ironed out.”

The Capitals stand face-to-face with a team that’s enjoyed the high-level successes they’re striving for when they host the Chicago Blackhawks at Nationals Park on NBC tomorrow.

For more, check out that great story on Ovechkin and the Capitals.

Reports: Sun glare could push back start time of Winter Classic


Weather conditions have always been a topic of discussion and concern in the days leading up to NHL outdoor games and there is no exception when it comes to the 2015 Winter Classic.

The fear this time is glare from sunshine, which is what delayed the 2014 Stadium Series game between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils at Yankee Stadium in January.

Weather forecasts for the Washington area are calling for sunny skies and cool temperatures on Thursday, and according to numerous reports, the scheduled start time of 1 p.m. ET for the Winter Classic between the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks could be pushed back due to glare from the sun at Nationals Park.

“We were warned today there might be a time change based on glare,” said Capitals forward Brooks Laich as per CSN Washington. “Too much sun. I think I’d rather deal with sun than rain. Even with sun you’re going to have a better product on the ice.”

Enlarged kids: Capitals adjust to Epix’s cameras


The TV network might have changed from HBO to Epix, but the fact of life remains the same: the Washington Capitals must adjust to cameras in often “sacred” places (and sometimes during very heated moments).

That adjustment is snapping into gear this weekend, as Epix’s crews began filming on Friday, according to a great story in the Washington Post.

Ultimately, the Capitals face a lengthy balancing act between sharing enough of what Brooks Orpik refers to as “the stuff fans want to see” while not giving people too much of the footage that the team wants no one to witness.

Brooks Laich spoke about conversations, emotions and injuries you want kept private.

Maybe most interestingly, though, it seems like Laich wonders if some of them will look silly as adults engaging in often child-like activities.

“Sometime people’s personalities change when the cameras are around,” Laich said. “They don’t do it for cameras. They like being themselves and they don’t want everybody to see all the crazy things that supposedly grown-up men do. It does humanize, but sometimes you’re supposed to be a grown-up man and you’re doing silly things, it makes you look like an enlarged kid. I think some of that is tapered a little bit when the cameras are around.”

It will be tough to top* the blustery, frequently profane moments Bruce Boudreau provided during the last time high-profile cameras followed the Capitals around, yet one natural story will be the team’s schedule. Eight of their next 11 games are on the road, including the last three games before the 2015 Winter Classic against the Chicago Blackhawks.

(Epix is lucky here, as their schedule’s far more home-happy in January.)

Beyond that, the Washington Post points out the many human interest stories at hand:

Speaking Tuesday night at Verizon Center, producer Ross Greenburg, who also helmed the HBO series before joining Epix, offered a list of “really interesting humanitarian stories” that included the following: Trotz and his son, Nolan, who has Down syndrome; Ovechkin’s mentorship of young Russians Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov; the relationship between goaltending coach Mitch Korn and starting netminder Braden Holtby; and owner Ted Leonsis, whom Greenburg has known personally since around 1999.

It should be captivating TV … maybe too captivating for the Blackhawks’ and Capitals’ liking.

* – Granted, no one wants to approach that level, since some believe it made Boudreau look foolish and maybe accelerated his firing.

Related: How to watch the Epix show.

Trotz doesn’t want the Caps to ‘crawl up in a corner and feel sorry’ for themselves


Hey, remember back when Bruce Boudreau was still the Capitals’ coach and he went on that famous rant about “a bunch of guys” who “look so [expletive] down when something bad happens” before ending the tirade with, “Surely to [expletive] we can deal with this”?

Well, current Caps coach Barry Trotz didn’t use those same words exactly, but his message was similar in the wake of Washington’s third loss in four outings, a 6-2 drubbing at the hands of the Maple Leafs on Saturday.

“The worst thing is to crawl up in a corner and feel sorry for yourself,” Trotz said, per the Washington Post. “That gets old pretty quick, too, and that doesn’t do you any good. When things get tough, we always say the fight in the dog, you’ve got to have fight. We’re learning that.”

The Caps got off to a promising start this season, coming out of the gates with a 4-1-2 record. But they’ve since gone 6-8-2, dropping two points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

“Personally, I think it should light a fire,” veteran Brooks Laich said of the loss to Toronto, per CSN Washington. “We’ve got to start climbing. Everybody wins a couple games here and there, that’s just treading water. We need to win six, seven, eight in a row to climb above teams and then we need to do it again to give yourself some space. … Just being mediocre is not acceptable for this group.”

The Caps host Vancouver Tuesday before heading out on a three-game road trip to Carolina, New Jersey and Tampa Bay.

Based on the following video, it’s safe to assume that, going forward, Trotz would like to see a better performance out of his goaltender than what he saw Saturday.