Arlington, VA—The Caps had a special guest at practice on Tuesday as Baltimore Orioles legend Cal Ripken attended practice and spoke to the team.
"We reached out to Cal and his representative," head coach Barry Trotz said. "I think we're big on trying to learn from some of the best in the game. We've done team building, we've had different speakers in the past from the military to sports figures and obviously, Cal is one of the greatest players in the game, especially in this area."
Trotz explained that the idea of reaching out to Ripken stemmed from the recent loss of many prominent sports figures.
"The theme a little bit this year was the thought that we lost a couple of really great people, sports figures the last year. Not only sports figures, but people who had effect on, I'll say 'on and off the ice' in Muhammad Ali and Gordie Howe in our sport. We were talking this summer, what can we learn from some of the great people in the game, not only our game but from other sports?"
Ripken addressed the team after practice and then took questions from the players.
"There was so many topics," Trotz said. "He talked about everything from dealing with slumps to dealing with different situations. Dealing with careers, dealing with longevity. I don't know if there was anything specific, but he had some great anecdotes and great things from a professional athlete to other professional athletes and to do it as long and articulate it from a different sport to our sport, I think he was really good.
"So the message I think is about professionalism, commitment, dealing with being a professional sport in general. I can't describe it as a coach, you can't describe it as the media even though we try. You have to be a player to know what you're going through on and off the ice or the field or whatever. It was quite enlightening."
MORE CAPITALS: Eller returns to practice
A red-hot Capitals team traveled to Brooklyn where they were handed a 3-1 loss by the New York Islanders. Washington gave up an early goal in the first period and two early goals in the second that ultimately put the game out of reach.
Here is how it happened.
The first 94 seconds of the second period
The Caps trailed 1-0 at the end of the first and seemed fortunate to be down by only one. That luck ran out very quickly in the second period. Andrew Ladd scored just 36 seconds into the period and John Tavares added another just 58 seconds later. A 1-0 deficit turned into a 3-0 deficit in just 94 seconds.
Braden Holtby was pulled in the second period after giving up three goals, but if is hard to put this loss on Holtby's shoulders. He did not get much help at all from the defense as the Caps were frequently caught out of position by the Islanders. Watch how little movement there is from the players in white on this play.
Josh Bailey found himself in the middle of four Caps players, none challenged him and, even worse, no one covered John Tavares. It was an easy pass for Bailey and an easy goal for Tavares.
No sustained offensive pressure
The Islanders entered the game ranked 29th in goals against per game, yet the Caps could not take advantage. Washington fired 32 shots on goal, but could not create much sustained offensive pressure. There were not many cycles, not many won puck battles in the corners, not many second-chance opportunities, not many opportunities at all. Even the Caps' lone goal came from an end-to-end drive that Dmitry Orlov fired into the net.
While the Caps did not have many high-quality opportunities, the few they did have Jaroslav Halak was able to turn aside and he made it look easy. Halak has not had a great season, but you would not have known it given the way he played on Monday. He looked very comfortable in net, even when the Caps did manage to pressure him and recorded 31 saves on the night.
The Caps saw their four-game win streak come to an end on Monday in a 3-1 loss at the hands of the New York Islanders.
Washington found themselves trailing 1-0 less than three minutes into the game. New York jumped out at the start of the second period as well with two goals in 94 seconds to take a 3-0 lead and end Braden Holtby's night.
Dmitry Orlov got Washingtoni on the board in the third period, but it was too little, too late.
Here are the three stars of the game.
1. Andrew Ladd
The Caps did not have a great first period, but still find themselves trailing by only one. Ladd's goal just 36 seconds into the second period was a crucial one as the Islanders really cemented their control. He was a dominant force offensively all game even if it only translated into one point for him on the scoresheet. Ladd recorded a team-high six shots on goal.
2. Jaroslav Halak
What is about the Caps for this guy? Halak has not had a great season by any means, but he looked like vintage Halak in this one. You wouldn't know it from the score or the flow of the game, but the Caps actually had more shots on goal. Halak turned aside 31 of those shots to stifle any comeback hopes for Washington.
3. Philipp Grubauer
When the score was 3-0, Barry Trotz elected to make a goalie change and in stepped Grubauer. It's always a tough task to come into a game cold, but it was an even tougher situation considering that the Caps weren't doing much defensively to help their netminder. Grubauer, however, played exceptionally well.
Even under a frequent barrage from the Islanders, Grubauer stopped all 17 shots he faced keeping it close on the scoreboard even if it did not feel all that close at all.