2015 Caps Trades: TJ to DC A-OK!

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

While Caps fans in DC are likely celebrating – with good reason – the announced trade that’s bringing Blues stand-out TJ Oshie to Washington next season, so too are longtime fans from his days playing at the University of North Dakota. 

Which means that Michele Johnson – Caps fan, UND grad, and all around hockey sharpie – is probably more excited than almost anyone right now. Michele has been watching Oshie’s play since he came to Grand Forks, and can’t wait to watch him now, years later, at Verizon. 

Although she’s in North Dakota right now, she couldn’t wait but to share some thoughts on why TJ is such a big deal in DC. 

One cold Saturday morning in 2014, I set my DVR for Olympics hockey and headed out to Congressional Cemetery to walk my dog.

Oshie OlympicsWith TJ Oshie and Zach Parise strapping it on for the  USA, and Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews doing the same for Canada, I was confident the alma maters of my alma mater – the University of North Dakota – would represent.

This edition of Olympic hockey meant pretty much everything to me. So it shouldn’t have been a surprise, half way through my walk, to get texts such as “OMG!” “OSHIE!” “Are you losing your mind?!?” and “Go Sioux!”

I knew it my bones: TJ Oshie, former Sioux standout, had saved the day for the U.S. team and electrified fans across the nation. Just as he had back at UND.

Continue reading

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Fun, Sun, and the 2015 NHL Draft

NHL 2015 DraftFor the last five years, PuckBuddys have been fortunate enough to cover one of professional hockey’s biggest events – the NHL Draft. Sure, fans can watch it from home – the awkward smiles, the hockey brass cutting deals, the booing of Gary Bettman, it’s all there. But to attend in person is to get a much clearer look behind the curtain as to all the things that make this game, and league, all that it is. 

This year’s draft was in Tampa, and we asked PuckBuddys contributor Eric Pinder – a.k.a. “Operahockeyguy” – to manage our coverage. He did a great job; below is his comprehensive wrap of this year’s draft, and a look back at the 2014-15 season.

First born children are photographed endlessly in the best wagons for kids, in nauseatingly “cute” settings, and their exploits filmed and shared ad nauseum while the next kids have increasingly less documentation. And so it goes with the NHL Draft. The first round picks are lauded and photographed onstage next to smiling team officials while the second rounders and up are hustled through the process and seem to get less of the attention. Although it does make Day Two go by quicker, I can vouch for that.

This was a really good hockey season for me personally. I became the hockey commentator for the show “After Further Review” on CBS Sports radio here in Orlando. And I was chosen as a Bolts Social Captain in November, meaning that I was the de facto social media cheerleader for the game against Columbus. The Lightning did lose that game which would indicate I won’t be asked back to perform those duties. (Kudos to the Lightning organization for choosing an openly gay blogger and not caring about any potential backlash.) Continue reading

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The Capitals Free Agents: Who to Sign, Who to Cut, and Who to Beg


Braden Holtby 


The Gospel According to Braden

And ye, Jesus did looketh down from the cross and spake thusly: “Lulz yall gonna pay me now.”

Braden Holtby, as a southerner fanning himself on the veranda and drinking a mint julep might say, is about to get paiiiiyyyyyyyyyyyydddddddddddddduhhhhh.

And good! Please, pay him whatever he wants. Give him $8-9 Million if he wants it. We have a Henrik Lundqvist, and for once he’s wearing our colors. Holtby is a sweet, neat, and most importantly, elite NHL goaltender, and the Capitals should give him a contract long enough that his kids go to prom here.

Fortunately, GM Brian MacLellen appears to be on the same page, and has called signing Holtby, “a priority.”

Evgeny Kuznetsov Continue reading

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Your Game 7 Caps-Rangers Drinking Game

photo (4)

IF Joel Ward makes a big play – Drink.

IF Joel Ward’s butt makes a big play – Drink, shout “Hump Day!”

IF Tom Wilson gets in a fight – Finish your drink, complain about how bad the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight was.

IF Alex Ovechkin scores – Finish your drink, jump forcefully into the nearest pane of glass. Continue reading

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These Capitals Are Making Me Thirsty!

Pictured: the Washington Capitals

It’s Not How You Start, It’s How You Finish (Unless It Is)

The Washington Capitals have a bad habit: they ease into games, to borrow a phrase from the greatest television show of all time, “like an old man into a warm bath.”

It seems like just about every game this series, and last series, and last postseason, and the postseason before (get it?), the opening puck drop sets off the Capitals’ opponents like hornets in a maraca. Furious urgency, thy name is everyone else. The kill-or-be-killed, win-or-go-home, hockey-platitude-du-jour nature of the playoffs seems routinely lost on the Capitals until their asses are already halfway into the hand basket.

There is a statistic that I hate, because it is stupid, but that I am still going to go ahead and quote here: “Hockey teams that score first usually win.” Continue reading

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A Capitals Fan Goes to the Doctor

31chen-tmagArticle (1)DOCTOR: What brings you in today?

  YOU: Hi, Doc. I guess I just want to know if it’s normal to feel this way, like if I have reason to be so excited.

Have you, now or ever before, experienced sensations of meaningful winning, championship hockey, or even mild playoff success?

  No. Well, once, twenty years ago. But I just ended up in Detroit, beat up and swept in the gutter.

That’s common in Detroit.

I was diagnosed with Acute Hasek Disorder. Continue reading

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A Tale of Two Tough Guys, and the Return of “Liable to Libel”

Tom Wilson – Asset, or Ass?

NHL: Preseason-Philadelphia Flyers at Washington Capitals

Tom Wilson: the most incendiary youngster to hit Washington since William Jefferson Clinton, and bane of the New York zeitgeist. Wilson’s wrecking ball style of play, characterized by the kind of wanton disregard for human life that will catch you a second-degree murder charge in Baltimore (finally), has been the saw blade the Capitals have danced upon for much of the playoffs.

When things go well, and the same chaotic chance that governs car crashes smiles in Washington’s favor, Wilson’s play is an irreplaceable injection of energy in the form of a big hit or an opposing thug puglized. A long-called-lifeless Capitals team suddenly looks bloodthirsty.

But when Wilson’s play turns bad, it morphs, like a Republican-amended environmental bill, into something stinky and obviously dangerous to everyone in the room.

It seems like Wilson takes a penalty every game in these playoffs (actually, it’s about half that often – 15 PIM in nine games played, a team high), and when he does, boy are they nasty. Big hits in the corners that, if you continue to build a reputation for them, are eventually going to land you a five minute major penalty and a game misconduct. When asked about his latest dangerous penalty, a two-minute minor boarding penalty in Game 3, Wilson agreed, and said as much himself. Continue reading

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The Brouwer Play May Be Over, But Holtby is Rangers’ Bigger Worry

Souring on Brouwer


The hour for Brouwer on the power play has soured. Once, in the dark old days of an impotent Washington offense bereft of top-six talent, Troy Boy was a consistent bright spot, always to be counted on for a bit of rally-inducing net crashing, or perfectly capable sniping from anywhere within the circles.


 In these playoffs, though, Troy’s been a shell of his former self, like a hermit crab with dissociative disorder. He’s missed easy lay-ups in front of the net, either harmlessly fanning on the puck like a harem’s top frond waver, or chipping it high and wide like Tiger with the yips.


The Capitals have enough new talent that Brouwer no longer has to play in the top two lines. That’s a good thing. But in a tight-checking series where every goal (and opportunity missed) has the chance to play either heart attack or defibrillator, if you don’t trust him in your top six, it may be time to turn to someone else when you need one a man up. Continue reading

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Beating New York Not a Job For a Rookie, But For Two

By now, you may have heard of Evgeny Kuznetsov. You may have heard of the White House and penicillin, as well. His heroics in Games 5 and 7 have positioned him as primed to transition from future starlet to full-fledged Gloria Gaynor before our very eyes.


Kuz, the early years [via @Hockeyesque]

 He of many nicknames (“Kuzy” in Washington, “Kuzya” in his native Russia, “Yes, Headmaster” in my fan fiction), Kuznetsov was for years spoken of in whispers and legends: the Capitals’ most talented prospect since Ovechkin, since the One, also from the veiled fatherland, who waited for years to finally come to America and show himself. Though plenty successful in the KHL, Kuznetsov is now, in the NHL playoffs, blossoming under pressure, like a rose in a rice cooker.


Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

But there are two rookies who will need to come out to play if the Capitals are to beat the Rangers: the other is 20-year old Andre Burakovsky, the Swedish winger. Continue reading

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Caps Game 6 Defense Due to Dummies, Not Doom

Caps Isles G6 2015Just in time for gay sev of the first round of playoffs, the PuckBuddys welcome back Jason Rogers: writer, world traveler, Sperm Whale and “Hockey’s Hemingway.” No really, that what it says at his Twitter page, which you should totally go and follow right now. 

While we couldn’t bring ourselves to revisiting Saturday’s game, we’re lucky Jason did. And now that we’ve got him doing Caps playoffs post-season analysis, we damn well better win this thing Monday night. Take it away, Jason!

The Capitals are not giving up goals because of any deficiency in their defensive scheme. They just have one bad habit: they suck, catastrophically, once or twice a game.

Disregarding the empty-netter potted at the end of the game, the New York Islanders scored two actual, contested, “how’s-your-mother” goals in Game 6.

The first, as scored by John Tavares and as noticed by Russian Machine, Japers’ Rink, Greg Wyshynski and Stevie Wonder, was the direct result of Brooks Orpik making a doo-doo-headed dummy play and trying to hulk smash the forward entering the zone.

Instead, he missed, removed himself from the play like John Wilkes Booth, and left defenseman John Carlson alone on an island like a exclusive resort. Continue reading

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