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Capitals Biggest Bromance May Soon Come To an End

(Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

(Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

Right winger Tom Wilson, center Michael Latta and left winger Andre Burakovsky may not play on the same line together, but they definitely have chemistry unlike any other Washington Capitals pairing. It all started before the 2014-2015 season when the three young Caps players moved into an apartment together as roommates. Since then, it has been a budding bromance that has drawn the eye of Capitals fans mostly because of their playful nature on social media.

However, this roommate affair may soon come to an end.

“Right now I live with Tom and Latts,” Burakovsky said. “We will see if I will find my own place or if I’m going to stay. We have so much fun together all the time but sooner or later you have to find your own place.”

The most recent Shenanigans that the three roommates were involved in was just a few days ago when Wilson and Burakovsky watched the movie the Titanic twice in a row. Latta promptly tweeted about it.

“We were watching [the Titanic] and at the end we both said it was so sad…” remarked Burakovsky with a smile on his face. “Then 10 minutes later Titanic started again on another channel so we watched it again.”

“Latts just decided to throw me under the bus,” Wilson added. “Every time Latts saw me I was watching the Titanic.”

Another popular exchange between the famous roommates happened when Washington acquired right winger T.J. Oshie in a trade with the St. Louis Blues this past July.

Latta started out welcoming Oshie by answering his question on twitter about which number to use on his Caps sweater since Oshie’s usual No. 74 is already taken by defenseman John Carlson. Latta suggested No. 43, which is Wilson’s number. Wilson promptly made fun of Latta’s use of the word, “liney’s” in his tweet and it continued from there.

“The only thing that’s keeping me there is we have so much fun. We are like brothers,” Burakovsky said about the popular friendship. “We hang out all the time, we eat together, we watch movies together. We do everything together.

“If I move it’s going to be tough to leave the guys,” he added. “But we are still going to hang out every day anyway. Our friendship is so huge so it feels good to have someone around you all the time…sooner or later I have to find my own place. I can’t live with two roommates my whole life.”

Washington Capitals: Ovechkin Engaged

Alex Ovechkin

Alex Ovechkin

Washington Capitals left winger Alex Ovechkin and his girlfriend of five months announced they got engaged over their Instagram accounts earlier this afternoon. The Caps’ captain and Nastya Shubskaya, his now Russian model fiancée, have been reportedly dating since March of 2015. Shubskaya, 21, is a Russian model and the daughter of Russian actress and director Vera Glagoleva.

Ovechkin met Shubskaya after his engagement with Russian tennis player Maria Kirilenko abruptly ended. Kirilenko is currently married and recently become a mother.

Ovechkin, 29, and Shubskaya join Washington center Brooks Laich and actress and Dancing With the Stars judge Julianne Hough in getting engaged this offseason.

Newly acquired right winger T.J. Oshie and his wife, Lauren Cosgrove, tied the knot just a few weeks ago after Oshie’s acquisition in a trade with the St. Louis Blues.

Congratulations to the most recently engaged Washington Capital!

Capitals: D.C Ranked 20th Best Hockey City In The US

(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

WalletHub, a Washington D.C. based financial resource company, ranked Washington D.C the 5th best sports city in the United States in a recent study. The study also concluded that D.C. was the 20th best hockey city in the U.S.

The analysis included cities that had National Hockey League teams and/or National Collegiate Athletics Association Division I hockey teams (which Washington D.C. does not have). It measured things like fan engagement and friendliness, average cost of a ticket and team attendance to see how each city held up as a hockey city.

WalletHub found that the District of Columbia had the fourth-best attendance in the NHL. Over recent years, Capitals fans have been packing the Verizon Center to 103.2% of its capacity according to WalletHub. This ranks D.C. above rival cities like Boston and Pittsburgh in attendance.

“You don’t think of D.C. as typically a hockey town,” WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez said. “Having better attendance than almost any team in the league is surprising. Especially since the tickets are so expensive.”

The study on hockey cities found that the average price of tickets for a Washington Capitals game ($70.98) was the fifth most expensive in the NHL. That means that being a Caps fan in D.C. costs less than being one in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Chicago or Boston.

Going to see the Boston Bruins play costs their fans the most among NHL cities. On average, a ticket costs $88.70.

The study also measured Washington fan’s friendliness and engagement by the number of Twitter followers and Facebook likes on the team’s official accounts. D.C. ranked 13th which is middle of the pack for NHL cities.

However, attending a game in D.C. may be a different experience.

“I think that D.C. is really on the up right now” Gonzalez said. “When you go to a game there, they are doing a lot of engaging things to keep the fans motivated during commercial breaks to staying in your seat and not going home early.”

Outside of attending Capitals games, D.C. television viewership numbers ranked eighth among NHL cities.

“Eighth best is still certainly something to be proud of,” the WalletHub analyst also said. “[The Caps’ viewership] ranks right under New York City and it’s still above Los Angeles.”

The city of Pittsburgh, a place in which D.C. hockey fans hate losing, was found to be the best hockey city in the U.S. This includes having the best television viewership, an honor that Penguins fans have helped the team hold for quite some time.

When asked what really makes Pittsburgh stand out as the best hockey city in the U.S. Gonzalez simply said, “Pittsburgh is affordable.”

“Steel City” also leads D.C. in franchise value. The Penguins are worth $750 million while the Capitals are estimated to be worth $500 million.

Most people interpret franchise value as more star power.,

“I don’t think [Caps winger Alex] Ovechkin fans will agree with that,” said Gonzalez

Even though the Capitals have won 52.49% of their games over the last three seasons, they still trail the Penguins and nine other NHL teams.

“To continue playing well,” Gonzalez commented, “that really is what is going to get D.C. up there in the rankings.”

Not having won a Stanley Cup hurts D.C the most.

“Realizing that there are so many ‘free agent fans’ in D.C….,” Gonzalez opined about what D.C can do to improve in the hockey city rankings, “…being able to pull them in and getting them more excited, not just about the Caps, but about hockey in general.”

Pulling, “free agent fans” into the Capitals hype in D.C. could also mean pulling fandom from one D.C. professional team to the other.

“When the Redskins are having this low,” Gonzalez remarked, “why not capitalize on the Caps?”

Washington Capitals: Grading Brian MacLellan’s Offseason

Evgeny Kuznetsov 2015

In what has seemed like an annual ritual for the Washington Capitals — suffering another playoff collapse — general manager Brian MacLellan had his work cut out for him leading into the 2015-2016 season. He faced some tough decisions regarding key pieces to the franchise in free agency because, by making those hard choices, he faced changing the direction of the franchise and possibly causing uproar amongst Caps fans by going away from fan favorite players.

The GM started out the offseason by signing restricted free agent goaltender Philip Grubauer to a two-year, one-way contract worth $650,000 in 2015-2016 and $850,000 in 2016-2017.

The value of Grubauer’s new deal is a steal as the 23-year-old will likely be the Capitals’ backup goaltender moving forward. This likely spells the end of former backup goaltender Justin Peters’ time in Washington, D.C. As a backup, Peters made $950,000 a year.

Free agent target No. 1 was 25-year-old goalie Braden Holtby. Holtby was due for a raise as a restricted free agent and he got a big one when he agreed to a deal while awaiting his awarded contract through a National Hockey League arbitrator.

The Holtby five-year deal benefits both team and Holtby. Had he gotten a higher average salary, it wouldn’t have been surprising based on the stats he put up during the 2014-2015 season. Both sides knew they wanted a reasonable term for stability at the goaltender position so that the franchise wouldn’t struggle with a long contract that hurt their finances in the later years. Agreeing on five-years was key.

The next big move involved unrestricted free agent Defenseman Mike Green.

Having played in Washington for 10 years where he put together some of the best offensive seasons in NHL history for a defenseman, Green’s productivity declined due to his injuries in later years. Did he still fit in the Capitals future plans?

The president of the agency that represents Green made it clear in correspondence that there was no dialogue between Washington and Green.

No. 52 signed to a three-year-deal worth $18 million with the Detroit Red Wings.

The departure of the defenseman in free agency wasn’t a favorite move of fans but it was the right one… D.C. needed a change from the “Young Guns.”

Green didn’t stand a chance of returning if the Capitals hoped to keep the likes of 23-year-old emerging star center Evgeny Kuznetsov (which they did), left winger Marcus Johansson (they did that too), Holtby, center Eric Fehr or right winger Joel Ward (who both eventually departed).

Collectively, the Kuznetsov, Holtby and Johansson (the latter through an arbitrator) deals came in at very reasonable values. There was no overpaying there.

In the early parts of the offseason and right after re-signing Grubauer, MacLellan also got center Jay Beagle to sign on the dotted line on a three-year deal worth $5.25 million.

It was an expensive deal for a fourth (maybe third) line guy whose career-high in goals, assists and points is 10, 10 and 20 respectively (2014-2015). However, the center is an integral part of the Capitals depth lines. Teams typically have paid more for depth players recently because they have become so important in today’s version of the NHL.

MacLellan also assured that defenseman Nate Schmidt would stay in Washington D.C. for another two seasons on a deal that will pay him $750,000 in 2015-2016 and $875,000 in 2016-2017. This is an inexpensive contract for an up-and-coming defenseman who will see much more ice time at the NHL level.

After Washington’s exit from the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, MacLellan acknowledged while meeting with the media that the team needed to find a first line right winger. In a move that caught the hockey world by surprise, he was able to ink free agent right winger Justin Williams to a two-year deal. Williams makes his line mates better.

However, signing Williams wasn’t enough for MacLellan. On July 2, the Capitals acquired right winger TJ Oshie from the St. Louis Blues in a trade. The Oshie acquisition was a major move by MacLellan and was a clear sign the he is really going for it by getting a productive scorer and playmaker.

Oshie is a scoring, play-making, physical player that fills that first line right wing role and then some. Adding Williams meant even more depth at a position of need.

MacLellan also added some depth players when he acquired center Zach Sill as well as defensemen Taylor Chorney and Ryan Stanton. These players could see playing time as injury call-ups.

During this busy offseason, Brian MacLellan did exactly what he wanted to do; make the Washington Capitals better. He has done his part in giving the franchise a good chance at winning the Stanley Cup. It is now time for the players and coaches to step up, do their part and execute with what the GM surrounded them with.

Grade: B+

Kastles Win WTT for Fifth Consecutive Year

The Washington Kastles have won their fifth consecutive WTT title

The Washington Kastles have won their fifth consecutive WTT title

The Washington Kastles defended their title by beating the Austin Aces and winning the WTT for the fifth consecutive year. The stadium was full, there was a lot of energy, people were chanting “Refuse to Lose!” and that’s exactly what the Kastles did… refused to lose.

The first match was mixed doubles and the Kastles Martina Hingis and Leander Paes played the Aces Teymuraz Gabashvili and Alla Kudryavtseva. The Austin team simply could not take the pace or unbelievable chemistry that Wimbledon winner Hingis and Paes possessed on the court. The Aces team lost in a grueling 5-2 match.

The second match was women’s double featuring Washington’s Hingis and Anastasia Radionova (the current WTT MVP) against Kudryavtseva and Elina Svitolina. The Kastles came out hungry to win the match and were up 2-0 until the Aces started using better placement and strategy; forcing the Kastles to make errors. The score quickly became 4-4. It was an exciting tiebreaker, with the Kastles clinching the win in a very evenly and closely-played 5-3, taking the match 5-4.

Even though the Kastles won the last two matches, the overall team score was only 10-7 in favor of Washington. This is the beauty of team tennis: there is excitement until the very end and one must constantly be on one’s toes.

The third match was the Kastles Leander Paes and Sam Querrey versus Gabashvili and Jarmere Jenkins.

Querrey’s serve was just too strong and many aces were made throughout the match. Austin’s Gabashvili is a real competitor and a very hard hitter; he made this match a very close one. The Kastles were up 4-3 when Jenkins hit a huge passing shot down the line but ultimately just couldn’t compete with Paes and Querrey. At the end of the match, Paes jumped onto Querrey because he was so excited. There seemed to be something personal going on between Paes and Gabashvili because there was a lot of “smack talk” during the match. Paes was very obviously excited to take the win.

The fourth match was the men’s singles between Querrey and Gabashvili. This was one of the best matches overall as these two men are power houses. There were multiple aces on both sides, huge baseline shots and not a lot of error. Another tiebreaker was played in this evenly set match and the Kastles took the tiebreaker in an exciting win 5-4.

The final singles match was the most exciting match with the Kastles Madison Brengle up against Aces Svitolina. The Aces were up 4-3 at one point but the overall match score was Kastles 23-17. Svitolina became very emotional during it, continuing to look at her coach for support. She even shed a tear during one of her points from disappointment. The coach eventually sent word through another player during the timeout and the next thing fans knew, Svitolina just came out of whatever funk with which she had been dealing. She came out to win. The Ukrainian native started hitting huge winners with great ball placement. The match came down to a tiebreaker and Svitolina ended up winning it.

This is where team tennis gets exciting because even though the overall score was Kastles 23-18, the Aces won the final match. Because of that, they had to go into overtime to determine the winner of the next game. Whoever did this would take the match.

Washington’s Brengle is a closer. She brought out her killer instinct and just was too big to beat. The stadium was alive and probably she fed off this. The 25-year-old American player didn’t even let Svitolina take one point in the game she so dominated the match and the Kastles won.

“This is what tennis should be all about,” legend and co-founder of WTT, Billy Jean King said in an interview after the match. “The energy… the kids… families coming out… I would like to see more of this with tennis in the future.”

Washington Kastles Gear Up for Finals after Big Win

Last night was a big night, as the legend and co-founder of World Team Tennis, Billy Jean King, was present for the Washington Kastles match against the Philadelphia Freedoms. The home team took the night, 25-9, and are now getting ready for the  Mylan WTT Finals.

The night started with the Kastles Anastasia Rodionova being presented the MVP award of the World Team Tennis. Rodionova is ranked No. 62 in singles and No. 19 in Doubles.

The match began with mixed doubles and Washington’s Martina Hingis and Leander Paes versus Philadelphia’s Taylor Townsend and Marcelo Melo. Townsend, only 19 years old, used to be the No. 1 Juniors player in the World and is a power player with a solid frame. Melo is also a big power player and is No. 3 in the world for doubles. It was an exciting match but the defending Wimbledon Champion, Hingis and Paes, dominated it. The two play with a serious chemistry whereas Melo and Townsend just didn’t have the chemistry and the teamwork to pull off the win.

The second match was women’s singles. The Kastles Madison Brengle played against the Freedoms Coco Vanderweghe. Vanderweghe is ranked No. 32 in singles while Brengle is 44. Although Vanderweghe was the stronger player with more power, a bigger kick serve and more strength; she simply made too many unforced errors and was not consistent. Brengle stole the match at 5-2, playing smarter and forcing Vanderweghe to make the mistakes.

The third match of mixed doubles featured the Freedom’s Melo and Robby Ginepri (No. 441 in singles in the world) versus the Kastles Sam Querry and Paes.

Melo was beautiful to watch as he closed in on the net quickly during his big powerhouse baseline shots faster than any other player. Querry and Paes were smart and used the “eye formation” a lot during this match (a tactic in doubles to throw off your opponent so they don’t know where you are moving). This pair, like Paes and Hingis, had a lot of chemistry together and played as a team, with smart execution. Melo and Ginepri just couldn’t keep up the pace.

The fourth match was Women’s Doubles. Washington’s Hingis and Rodionova were up against Philadelphia’s Vanderweghe and Townsend. This was the best match of the night because the teams were evenly played, had points that went on for a very long time and displayed a lot of power hitting. In the end, the Kastles were just too strong for the Freedoms and pulled off the win, 4-4.

The final match of the evening was men’s singles with Querry up against the Ginepri. Querry is just an amazing closer and pressure doesn’t affect him. He came out hungry to win and dominated the match with power and ball placement.

The Kastles beat the Freedoms 25-9 and will play in the finals Sunday at 11:30 at the Kastles Smith Center.

Capitals Re-Sign Marcus Johansson

(Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

(Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

The Washington Capitals re-signed center/winger Marcus Johansson to a one-year deal worth $3.75 million.

The deal came after Johansson and the Capitals went through an arbitration hearing Wednesday and Johansson was awarded the contract Friday night.

The 24 year-old Landskrona, Sweden native set career highs in goals (20), points (47), shots (138) and games played (82) in 2014-2015.

In 345 career NHL games with the Capitals, Johansson has recorded 61 goals, 125 assists, for 186 points. In 44 playoff games he has recorded five goals and 10 assists for 15 points.