Capitals

Quick Links

Instant Analysis: Capitals blitzed by Flyers, served lopsided road loss

grubauer-fail-flyers-usat.png

Instant Analysis: Capitals blitzed by Flyers, served lopsided road loss

A night after firing on all cylinders in a Friday road-win against the Devils, the Capitals (3-2-1) were blitzed and pressured by the Flyers (3-2-0) for three full periods on Saturday night, with Philipp Grubauer surrendering eight goals.

The end result was a lopsided 8-2 loss on in Philadelphia. 

How It Happened: The Flyers were the penultimate team to make their home-opner, with over a full day off since their last game. The Capitals, on the other hand, were facing their first second game of a back-to-back road trip. It was clear which team had fresher legs, with the Flyers blitzing and pressuring the Capitals for the entirity of the 6-goal victory.

Veteran Claude Giroux (2g, 2a) and young gun Sean Couturier (2g, 1a) led the onslaught, with the Flyers outshooting the Capitals (37-23) in all three periods. 

Jakub Vrana netted a goal for the second consecutive night, doing so midway through the first period to even the score 1-1. But the relentless pressure began the break the Capitals as the first period came to a close. Scott Laughton's shorthanded goal with just ove a minute remaining stretched the lead to 2-1. The first intermission couldn't save the Capitals, as Wayne Simmonds (1g, 1a) buried a beautiful feed from Jakub Voracek (0g, 3a) past Grubauer to extend the lead to 3-1. From there, the game was out of reach, with only a Nicklas Backstrom (1g, 0a) goal registering for the Capitals. Another goal for the Flyers made it 5-2 at the end of the second.

The Flyers beat the Capitals to the puck and to the net in the third period as well, registering three more goals. When the horn flowed sounded, the Caps skated off the ice with a 8-2 loss.

Bowey's Debut Hardly Memorable: Madison Bowey was the latest Caps' prospect to make his NHL debut, and it was not one he's likely to remember with much fondest. Bowey got the nod following Matt Niskanen's trip to the Injured Reserve, and while Bowey still has a bright future ahead of him, Saturday night provided a "welocme to the league" experience.

It's wasn't entirely his fault, the Capitals — as a team — struggled against the Flyers, but Bowey's 14:55 of ice time was littered with rookie mistakes. Voracek sent Bowey back to school early in the game, catching the 22-year-old out of position before dishing the puck to Wayne Simmonds for the Flyers' third goal of the game.

Bowey finished with a -3 plus/minus rating and was on the ice for five of the Flyers' goals. 

Looking Ahead: The Capitals get to head home and rest up for the first showdown against Auston Matthews.

The Toronto Maple Leafs head to town on Tuesday, Oct. 17  for the first meeting between the two teams since there memorable first-round series of the 206-17 playoffs. 

Quick Links

The human side of the NHL's trade deadline

usatsi_10392117.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

The human side of the NHL's trade deadline

Congratulations! You just got a new job. There’s just one catch: it’s in a new city.

Oh, and by the way, you start tomorrow. Good luck.

That would be a pretty big shock for anyone, but it is the reality that hockey players constantly face and one that is exacerbated as the trade deadline approaches.

“I know fans and media get really excited about it, but they're not the ones that have to pick up and move their families,” Brooks Orpik said following Sunday’s practice. “I think players are looked at as kind of objects at times, just a number. People don't know there's a human side to trades.”

This season’s NHL trade deadline is 3 p.m. on Monday. Until then, every locker room faces a degree of uncertainty.

RELATED: KEMPNY GETS QUICK PROMOTION TO THE TOP-FOUR

Almost no player or prospect is untouchable. Even if there are no rumors surrounding a team or things seem set, the threat of a trade hangs over the heads of the players like the sword of Damocles until the deadline finally comes and goes.

Even for those players who know they won’t be moved or who can’t be moved because of various clauses in their contracts, it still remains a stressful time as they could still see friends shipped to another city.

“I think what happens on that day is all the players, as soon as they get off the ice at morning skate, they're all looking at their phones and trying to see what happens,” Barry Trotz said. “They want to see what happens around the league.”

Sure, a player can go from a last place team to a contender. On the surface, they should be happy. Behind the scenes, however, midseason trades always carry family implications.

“It's tough on guys,” Orpik said. “Guys have kids in schools or have roots in the community of the teams they play for. As fun as it is for some people, I think as players it can definitely be nerve-wracking for people.”

MORE CAPITALS: TRADE TO CAPS POTENTIALLY OFFERS JERABEK WHAT HE NEVER GOT IN MONTREAL

When those trades do happen, they obviously can throw a player’s life upside-down.

For those players who are not traded, the team has to adjust both to losing familiar faces and to embracing new ones into the locker room.

“When someone comes into a new group, it's not much changed except for obviously a new piece,” Jay Beagle said. “But it's definitely harder on them so you try to make it as easy as possible on them.”

Thus far, the Capitals have added defensemen Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek over the past week. While both trades were done in exchange for draft picks, Taylor Chorney was a casualty of the trades as he was placed on waivers to make room for the new additions and was claimed by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“It's tough losing guys, especially guys that are well-liked in our room,” Orpik said. “Taylor Chorney is a really well-liked guy so I think that impacted us a little bit.”

On Monday, fans, analysts, players and coaches alike will all be frantically checking their phones looking for the latest trade news, but while the deadline brings excitement for fans, it bears very different feelings for the players involved. Those players are people working a job and those trades mean uprooting their life in a matter of days. Regardless of whether a player is better off in terms of the team situation, there is still a human cost to doing business.

“It can affect certain guys because their names are obviously spread all over the place,” Trotz said. “They're human too. They pretend to not hear it, but they do.”

Quick Links

Michal Kempny already promoted to top-four at Sunday's practice

usatsi_10653853.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Michal Kempny already promoted to top-four at Sunday's practice

After two games, it looks like Michal Kempny is already moving up in the lineup.

At Sunday’s practice, Kempny played on the team's second defensive pairing, lining up on the left of John Carlson. Previously, the Czech defenseman had been playing on the right of Brooks Orpik. The move to the left allows him to play on his natural side as he is a left-handed shot.

Here are the pairs from Sunday’s practice:

Dmitry Orlov – Matt Niskanen
Michal Kempny – John Carlson
Brooks Orpik – Christian Djoos
Jakub Jerabek – Madison Bowey

Acquired on Monday from the Chicago Blackhawks, Kempny has played in two games for the Capitals and has received glowing reviews thus far.

“He's a really good pro, that's what sticks out,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “He takes care of himself, he works at his game off the ice and with the guys, he has fit in very well.”

RELATED: THE TRADE TO WASHINGTON OFFERS JERABEK THE CHANCE HE NEVER SEEMED TO GET IN MONTREAL

“I've gotten to play a little bit with [Kempny] the last couple games,” Brooks Orpik said. “I think he's a guy that, he moves pretty well and he moves the puck pretty well and likes to keep things pretty simple. He's very consistent and predictable so he's very easy to play with.”

When the Capitals first acquired Kempny, it seemed like the best fit for him would be alongside Carlson. It’s a natural fit with Kempny being a left-shot and Carlson a righty. It also bumps down Christian Djoos to a third-pair role which is preferable to having a rookie in the top-four come the playoffs.

Should Kempny play well with Carlson, that would likely solidify Washington’s top two pairs. The Orlov-Niskanen pair was not going to be changed and Carlson was going to be on the second pair. The only question was who would ultimately play with him in the postseason?

The third pair, however, remains a work in progress.

The Caps will have to wait at least another day for the debut of their second recent acquisition as Jakub Jerabek cannot yet play due to visa issues and will miss Monday's game, reports Isabelle Khurshudyan.

Considering the issues Washington has had on defense, they would not have brought in another defenseman just to be a healthy scratch. He will get his shot to earn a spot in the lineup.

With two new defensemen in tow, obviously the team will need to experiment over the next few days and weeks to find the right combinations.

“We're going to have to probably spend at least the next 10 to 12 games doing that and then we'll have to sort of settle in,” Trotz said. “With eight defenseman, you sort of want to see which guys you’re going to play and who to play as partners and sort of a little bit of ranking. If someone goes down, who's filling that extra role?”

MORE CAPITALS: WHY THERE'S NO REASON FOR CAPS FANS TO WORRY