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With Green in Detroit, who will fill the void?


With Green in Detroit, who will fill the void?

On Saturday, Mike Green started a new chapter in his career when he practiced with the Detroit Red Wings for the first time.

“(I spent) a long time in Washington,” Green told reporters. “But moving forward here, I'm extremely excited to be a part of this group, especially with the history, the leadership here, the recipe to win. Overall, just a great deal of excitement.”

The Caps have not started a season without Mike Green on their roster since 2005. For reference, Andre Burakovsky was 10 years old when Green played his first game in Washington.

But with the Caps unable to meet Green’s salary demands – the Red Wings will pay him $6 million in each of the next three seasons – the post-Mike Green era will begin with a pair of left-handed defensemen, Dmitry Orlov and Nate Schmidt, penciled in as the club’s fifth and sixth defensemen.

(The Caps’ top two defense pairs will be evenly divided between righties John Carlson and Matt Niskanen and lefties Brooks Orpik and Karl Alzner).

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As one of the league’s most fluid skaters and gifted passers, the Caps unquestionably will miss Green’s overall talent. But the person who will miss him most is Alex Ovechkin, whose on-ice relationship with Green was on par with the synergy he’s had with Nicklas Backstrom the past eight seasons.

No one on the planet could put pucks in Ovechkin’s wheelhouse the way Green did for 10 seasons, especially on the power play, where Green racked up 52 goals and 111 assists in his 575 games with the Caps, ranking him fifth in power-play goals and 15th in power-play points among all NHL defensemen in that span.

Green led all Caps in power-play ice time last season (2:45 a game) and with him gone, Carlson is likely to be given much of his power-play ice time, a trend that began last season, when he averaged 1:44.

Niskanen, who averaged 2:59 of power-play ice time in Pittsburgh in 2013-14 but just 1:03 with the Caps last season, is also expected to fill Green’s void, with Schmidt and Orlov also possibilities for spot duty. And that could mean a lot of practice time of Carlson and Niskanen trying to get Ovechkin pucks at the right pace and location.

“That’s something that works itself out,” Carlson said of his projected ice time on the man-advantage. “I’ve got to be better passing. I’ve got to read the breakout more. All those things we’ll work on in training camp when we’re under direct supervision.”

Last season, Carlson spent extra time before practices working on the little nuances of his game, like taking pucks on his backhand and getting off shots through traffic and off-balance. The added work and added responsibilities yielded his best-ever offensive season, both at even strength (8 goals, 30 assists) and on the power play (3 goals, 13 assists).

But it was Green’s 17 power play points that led all Caps defensemen, one more than Carlson.

“The numbers are the numbers,” Carlson said of reaching his career highs last season. “Last year I thought my numbers were better, but in my mind I just thought I played better overall.

“I thought I was better in the defensive zone, better breaking pucks out, and harder on people. Those are the little things you want to expand on. I can definitely be a little harder to play against in some situations and a little more physical here and there. I know I can get better. We’ll probably be asked to carry the load more and we have to be ready.”

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Capitals stars react to losing Barry Trotz as head coach

Capitals stars react to losing Barry Trotz as head coach

LAS VEGAS—Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom weren’t expecting to lose their head coach less than two weeks after winning the Stanley Cup.

But business is business, Ovi said, and Barry Trotz is handling his by attempting to capitalize on claiming the championship.

“It’s sad,” Ovechkin said on the red carpet at the NHL Awards, where he accepted his seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy on Wednesday night. “Obviously, we won together.”

The Caps’ captain also thanked Trotz for directing him—and his teammates—to new heights.  

“First of all, [I want to] thank him for a great job to be our coach, to be our dad, to give us a chance to win,” Ovechkin said. “But then again, it’s a business. You never know what’s going to happen. I’m pretty sure he’s going to be fine and I wish him luck.”

Backstrom, meanwhile, said he was caught off guard by Trotz’s decision to step down over a contract stalemate with the team. Trotz asked for $5 million per for five seasons; the Caps balked over the terms Trotz’s camp sought.   

“I was a little surprised, obviously,” Backstrom said. “I heard the scenario.”

Like Ovechkin, though, Backstrom praised the job Trotz did during his four-year tenure.

“He’s done a great job in Washington,” Backstrom said. “We obviously have him to thank for a lot. He’s done a tremendous job of schooling us and winning a championship. No one is going to take that away from him.”

Trotz’s next move is unclear, but he’s a free agent and currently eligible to negotiate with any team. The Islanders are the only team with an opening for a head coach.

As for Washington, GM Brian MacLellan said that associate coach Todd Reirden will get the first crack at replacing Trotz.

Ovechkin said he thinks Reirden would be a good fit.

“We all respect Todd,” Ovechkin said. “We all like him. Again, it’s not our thing to say who’s going to be head coach, but if it’s going to be Todd, it’s going to be fun.”


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A drawing of the moment Ovi lifted the Stanley Cup makes the moment joyful all over again

Daniel Duffy on Twitter/@RealArtOfWords

A drawing of the moment Ovi lifted the Stanley Cup makes the moment joyful all over again

How do you make a photo of Alex Ovechkin hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time even more memorable?

You make it out of all the Capitals' game scores this year, of course.

Capitals fan and artist Daniel Duffy (@RealArtOfWords) posted a phenomenal finished piece commemorating the Cup win on Wednesday, June 20. It's a little meta and astounding to look at, but very fun to try and read. If you want to relive the glory that was the parts of the 2017-18 Capitals season, check out the piece.

The piece, which appears to be done in a traditional medium like pen or marker, holds the team faced, arena played at, and final score of every game. It uses six colors and over sixty lines of text. Ovechkin roars as he holds the Stanley Cup overhead, the white away jersey shaded with bits of grey text. It takes a skilled eye to sort text and colors into shapes and shading, but Daniel did a fantastic job! It's awesome to see a fanbase create different interpretations of iconic moments. We'll surely see more of Ovechkin in this moment.

Just as we thought we were going to get tired of the celebration, fans find new ways to surprise us. Stay creative, Caps fans!