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Weber reacts to being traded for the first time


Weber reacts to being traded for the first time

Like any expectant father, Mike Weber must have had a million thoughts run through his mind as he and his Sabres teammates traveled from Buffalo to Anaheim on Monday.

Would his wife, Janine, go into labor while the Sabres were on their three-game, four-day road trip to California?

If he was dealt before Monday’s NHL trade deadline, when would it happen and where would he go?

Shortly after leaving the ice following an afternoon practice at Honda Center in Anaheim, Weber, who spent his entire nine-year NHL career with the Sabres, was told he would be going from the team with the fourth-worst record in the NHL to the one with the best. In return, the Sabres will get the Capitals’ third-round draft pick in 2017.  

“It’s something you knew was a possible reality,” Weber told Buffalo reporters at the team hotel in Anaheim. “It was a little surreal.

“Obviously I was just with the boys after practice and we were going to have some lunch. It's tough. It's something that's always talked about, but until it happens to you … I don't even know the feeling I'm feeling right now. But I’m going to Washington and I have a chance to do something pretty special there.”

It is unclear whether Weber, a hard-hitting, left-handed stay-at-home defender, will join the Capitals in Washington on Wednesday or if he’ll first return to his home Buffalo. Either way, he will be adapting to playing for a new team for the first time in his eight-year NHL career, even if he is seventh or eighth on the Caps’ depth chart. Weber has been a healthy scratch in seven of the Sabres’ last 10 games.

“I'm obviously excited to get to Washington and maybe have a chance myself to do something that's maybe only once in a lifetime," Weber said.

Weber said he does not know anyone on the Capitals’ roster “other than some bloody faces and some bumps and bruises along the way,” but received text messages from several new teammates.

“Guys are excited and obviously, I’m excited to get there,” Weber said. “When you’re a blue-collar type of guy you just want to get there quick, get into the mix and just start working again. That’s my mindset. It’s a weird feeling right now. It’s going to be different but it’s a change and I’m excited about continuing on in the NHL and chasing the dream."

Since his first NHL game as a 19-year-old, Weber, 28, has gone through four head coaches, two new ownership groups and has sat alongside 120 different Sabres teammates. 

"I really feel a part of the community and I’ve tried to do everything I could every time I put that sweater over my head to bring whatever I had and to play hard and do what my skill provided me to do,” Weber said.

“I'm obviously excited to get to Washington and maybe have a chance myself to do something that's maybe only once in a lifetime," Weber said.

Sabres general manager Tim Murray said it was difficult to trade a player who had been part of the Sabres organization for 10 years, “but I think this is a good opportunity for the player and for our organization. I would like to thank Mike for his time with the Sabres and wish him the best in Washington.”

Weber said he’s happy to finally be playing alongside Alex Ovechkin and not against him.

“It’ll be nice to only be doing PK against him in practice now,” he said. “I can give him a side to shoot on and not be in front of it. I’ll be playing with a guy who has the potential to score 50 goals again this year, one of the most elite players in the game. It’s just exciting to go to a team that has a chance to really make a big push for it.”

MORE CAPITALS: Capitals acquire a 'heart and soul' defenseman

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Who ya got? Trotz faces tough choice in net after Holtby's strong return

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Who ya got? Trotz faces tough choice in net after Holtby's strong return

Braden Holtby has made Barry Trotz’s weekend very difficult, but in a good way.

Back-to-back games against the New York Islanders offered the Capitals an opportunity to play both Philipp Grubauer and Holtby. Grubauer stayed hot earning another win for Washington. On Friday, Holtby got his first start since March 6 and played very well.

“A win is good,” Holtby said after the game. “I felt pretty comfortable. Some things to build off of and things that I want to get better at. It was a step in the right direction.”


A 22 save effort on Friday was bookended by two big saves. The first shot Holtby faced was a turnover on the power play that led to a dangerous shorthanded scoring opportunity for John Tavares early in the first period. Then in the third, with the Capitals leading 5-3 and the Islanders trying to mount a comeback, Holtby turned aside a breakaway opportunity for star rookie Mathew Barzal.

“I thought he was pretty solid,” Trotz said. “He looked really confident.”

“I felt a lot better,” Holtby said. “Not that I was feeling horrible before, it's just you get refreshed. It's like anything, you have a week off work, a holiday or something, you come back a little refreshed.”

And that brings us to Sunday.

On Sunday, the Capitals play the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers are a team in playoff position in desperate need of points after seven of their last eight games.

When asked on Wednesday who he thought would start Sunday’s game, Trotz said, “We're in a result business and we need some results so we'll see who is looking the sharpest and gives us the best chance to win.”

Both Grubauer and Holtby were impressive in their starts over the Islanders. You can’t argue Holtby is suddenly the hotter hand after one win considering how well Grubauer has played of late, but if Holtby remaisn the team’s No. 1, shouldn’t he get the next start after a strong winning performance?


Trotz was asked after the game who would start on Sunday after Holtby’s win.

“They're both playing well so I can't even answer that right now to be honest with you,” he said. “I do know that we have a number of games this week and whatever way go, obviously I'm going to sit down with the coaches and whatever way we go, I think they're both going to get some time this week.”

“I think you have to take it game-by-game,” Trotz added. “Bottom line is that you've got to make a decision and go with it and if your decision is that goalie A is a little hotter or you've just got a gut feel then you go with it and you have to live with it good or bad.”

So for now, it sounds as if we will see a rotation in net as Trotz continues evaluating which netminder gives the team the best chance to win in the playoffs. It is a tough position for the Caps’ bench boss, but, if both goalies continue to perform, having to choose between a hot Grubauer and a resurgent Holtby is a good problem to have and much preferable to having to choose between backup Grubauer and slumping Holtby.

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Kuznetsov to be evaluated Saturday after leaving Islanders game with "upper body" issue

Kuznetsov to be evaluated Saturday after leaving Islanders game with "upper body" issue

The Capitals may have won the game Friday against the New York Islanders, but now they will wait to see if they also suffered a significant loss.

Kuznetsov left the game in the third period after taking a slash from Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey which sent him sliding head-first into the boards. The team labeled the issue as “upper body” when it was announced he would not return to the game.

Head coach Barry Trotz was tight-lipped afterward on Kuznetsov’s status.

“They're going to re-evaluate him tomorrow and we'll have some clarity hopefully tomorrow,” he said.


You can see the play here:

When Kuznetsov is first slashed he immediately reacts. His feet then catch the stick of goalie Jaroslav Halak which sends him tripping and sliding hard into the boards. He sat on the ice for several minutes afterward and was looked at by the trainer before getting to his feet and slowly making his way to the locker room.

When asked after the game what he felt about the slash, Trotz said only, “Hockey play.”

One of the Capitals’ biggest strengths as a team is their depth down the middle. Any injury to a center, considering it is arguably the most important skating position on the ice, would be significant. An injury to the team’s top-line center would be even more costly.

Kuznetsov leads the team with 28 assists and ranks second in both goals (21) and points (69).