Interesting TimesPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
How does that old Chinese saying/proverb/curse go? May you live in interesting times? Certainly the last 24 hours or so have qualified – at the very least – as “interesting” for the Washington Capitals. On Friday afternoon, we learned that Caps defenseman Mike Green would return to the lineup after missing six of the previous seven games because of a Brooks Orpik slapshot that hit him near the right ear in a Feb. 6 game. Green’s return lasted all of two shifts. He cross-checked Rangers rookie Derek Stepan, Stepan came after him and put a shoulder under Green’s jaw. Green went down, the puck went into the Washington net and Green went to the locker room. He did not return to the game. The NHL fined Stepan for the hit, which is roughly the equivalent of you or I paying a parking ticket. Green didn’t travel with the Caps to Long Island for tonight’s game with the Islanders. His grandmother passed away yesterday, and he returned to his native Calgary for the funeral. He currently has non-roster status as a result, and does not currently count toward the Caps’ total of 23 roster players. Prior to Washington’s morning skate here today, Caps coach Bruce Boudreau told the assembled media that Semyon Varlamov would get the nod in goal tonight for the Capitals and that Jay Beagle would be recalled from AHL Hershey. I watched Varlamov go out for the morning skate. Very few minutes later, I watched him trudge back. I guessed he was ailing, and I guessed right. Michal Neuvirth gets the start in goal tonight, now. Todd Ford, who has spent most of his journeyman pro career at the ECHL level, has been signed to an NHL deal and recalled to serve as Neuvirth’s back-up tonight. The Caps also waived left wing D.J. King and claimed veteran left wing Marco Sturm from Los Angeles. Oh, and Mathieu Perreault has been sent to Hershey. We’re also just under 50 hours from the NHL’s annual trade deadline at 3 p.m. on Monday. All that said, I like the Sturm claim. Not sure how his health is; he’s had some serious leg and knee issues the last few years and speed was always a big part of his game in his prime. But he’s a consistent 20-goal guy who competes, plays on both special teams and has a good shot. For a team that’s struggling to score goals like the Capitals have, it can’t hurt. I’ll talk to Sturm a bit later this afternoon and pass his thought along here a bit after that. If you’re interested in what Bruce Boudreau, Matt Bradley and Jason Chimera had to say about the state of the Caps coming off their humbling and embarrassing 6-0 home ice loss to the Rangers last night, I’d encourage you to check out our video package from this morning’s skate on caps.com. Remember though, our discussion with Bruce came before the Sturm claim was announced. One interesting thing from Bruce; he mentioned that the forward lines would be re-jiggered tonight for the Islanders’ game, and one of the changes would involved putting another natural center on the line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Backstrom took just one face-off in Friday’s game. He injured his left thumb when he was slashed by Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang on Monday’s game against the Penguins. I’ll have some thoughts on what the Sturm addition might mean a bit later as well.
The 2010-11 Washington Capitals have had more than their fair share of ups and downs, it would seem. After starting the season 14-4-1, the Caps endured an eight-game winless streak in December. After starting the season 12-1-1 in its first 14 home games, Washington is now without back-to-back home