[Check out the first published photos of the presentation of the Duchesne Cup.]
I alone among camp chroniclers am sporting a playoff beard during the Duchesne Cup Challenge, but I was also a big Gator fan.
Bruce Boudreau gets the credit for conceiving the Duschesne Cup (recommended viewing: Lisa Hillary’s coverage of it), and initially, I thought it was merely a homage to a fan- and organization-favorite former Cap, now sadly gone from us. But it’s actually more than that. It’s also a powerful reminder to the team’s prospects — particularly those drafted late, or even signed as free agents — that dedication and drive and a team-first ethos can lead to an unheralded prospect’s making a long and prosperous NHL career, against the odds. Duchesne, you may recall, was an eight-round pick by the Caps and made the team in his very first training camp. The three-day competition is also a fabulous way of generating enthusiasm among the players for the start of camp.
Recall Boudreau’s referencing prospect Anton Gustafsson at last week’s Rookie Camp in the context of his father’s name being “synonymous with the Capitals.” Now with his idea for the Duchesne Cup we have leading our team a coach who is conspicuous in showcasing his affinity for this organization’s heritage.
Does it get any better than that?
You know you’re at a Washington weekday training camp session when the snazzy suit seated next to you in the stands has an “Issue Paper for the New Congress” in his lap and is marking it up during the Zam break. We have eminently gifted policy pros in this town, ever aiding our political leadership, but it’s good to know that some of them have their priorities straight.
Players in this Cup-deciding, lunch-hour showdown are on the ice and warming up. I’ll be updating periodically.
It’s Varlamov vs. Theodore in net. 0-0 a little more than halfway through the first. As with yesterday’s scrimmage, fast-paced and hard-hitting. Each squad has had a power play. Theodore just stoned Ovechkin on a clear breakaway. Brashear returned the favor for the B squad, powering down the left wing with no one in blue swerving in to obstruct, but Varlamov flashed the right leg pad to snuff him out. Play’s been pretty balanced, with quality scoring chances at both ends.
Ovi thwarted again by Theodore in tight!
And we have the game’s first goal! Jay Beagle, at 6:29 (thereabout — running clock), breaking in all alone after a deft touch pass from Andrew Gordon along the far boards. Beagle went backhand up high just inside the crossbar and goalpost to Jose Theodore’s right. 1-0 A squad.
Oskar Osala took A squad’s third penalty of the opening frame, but Ovechkin got sprung for another clean breakaway only to be snuffed out by Theordore again! That’s two breakaways and another unobstructed chance in tight and Theodore’s gotten the better of Ovi all three times.
Fifteen seconds after Ovi’s second breakaway, he steals a puck from the B team in the neutral zone and goes in on a breakaway again! This time . . . he scores! 2-0 Squad A.¬† That tally came with about a minute left, and the period ended 2-0. A-squad took three penalties that period but paid no price for them.
We’re underway with period two. Neuvirth and Holtby now in net. The French (Canadian) Connection (Perreault and Bouchard) are seated together in the stands, taking in the action.
If squad B’s to get back in this — and they’ll need 3 goals at a minimum to win — you have to think that the line of Semin-Fedorov-Laich will have to play a large role in the effort.
Holtby snuffs out an Ovechkin breakaway with 13:15 left in the second frame! He’ll be placing a phone call or seven home tonight, methinks.
Chris Bourque is really moving well this camp — he’s been very active in the two scrimmages I’ve seen him compete in. And his Bears’ teammate Andrew Gordon has also been really active in this scrimmage.
Alexander Semin made a nifty no-look, backhand dish to Feds in the slot that # 91 snapped into Michal Neuvirth’s glove. The young goalie came out in a challenge and well eliminated a lot of shooting area for the legend.
Boyd Gordon was smarting on a shift just now — he may have taken a cross-check to the lower back. correction, a slapshot to the leg. He was visibly wincing trying to help clear the zone. A few minutes later, he was back out on his regular shift, seemingly no worse for wear.
We lost 10 minutes in the second frame (20 minutes of running clock), and it’s still 2-0 A squad. That’s how the stanza ended.
Boyd Gordon poked in a loose puck in tight past Simeon Varlamov a little more than 3 minutes into the final frame. Then, just 7 seconds later, Alexandre Giroux tallied to even it at 2! Sean Collins was announced with a helper on Giroux’s score. We’ve a little over 5 minutes remaining, and we’re all knotted at 2. I know that Mike Vogel is hoping that the first-ever Gaetan Duschene Cup is settled via shootout.
Boyd Gordon power rushed down the left side of the ice with a little more than a minute left in this tied-up affair, and Alexander Ovechkin two-hand-chopped his stick for a slash that he got called for. So A squad is shortanded for the final 1:06.
John Carlson blasted a point drive that Varlamov snagged with his glove in spectacular fashion with just 30 seconds left.
Oh No Vogs, it’s a shootout! 2-2 after 60 minutes.
Eric Fehr and Viktor Kozlov both missed their shootout attempts, and Alex Semin missed for Squad B. That brought up Ovi of the Four Trophies. He put a slick stop-and-go move on Holtby and tucked the puck in 5-hole for a 1-0 A lead. But Boyd Gordon, who really came on strong in the third period, knotted it moments later.¬† Keith Aucoin missed, so we went to . . .
Extended shootout, Vogs!
Brooks Laich put a seriously YouTube-worthy corkscrew move on Varlamov, roofing it to wild Kettler applause. This of course meant that Matt Bradley had to match. Which he did, backhanding a real nice water-bottle-shaker. Sergei Fedorov then went through his own legs in a bit of razzle-dazzle that he tucked 5-hole. And the Duchesne Cup went the way of B when Chris Bourque went wide with his effort.
“I thought [the Duchesne Cup] was a good idea,” Bruce Boudreau said afterward. “You never knew how it was gonna work out . . . I’ve done this and been a part of it before where it’s not worked out as good where the scores get out of hand and ends up with some fights, but this all worked out really well.
“To win it in a shootout, and to come from behind on the last shot to win it in a shootout, I thought it had a bit of drama.”
This blogger’s three stars of the entire Duchesne Cup:
3. Jose Theodore
2. Alexander Ovechkin
1. Bruce Boudreau, for hatching the idea