Niskanen Lowers Boom, Continues Mild-Mannered Lifestyle

Posted January 15, 2015

Matt Niskanen is about the most chilled out player on the Washington Capitals.

Every time he’s shown on tv during a game, he just has the same emotionless stare. Every time he answers a question in an interview, he lets out a pause, lets out a little sigh, and calmly answers the question.

No emotion. Ever.

Tonight was no different.

That’s a lie. It was a little different. Sometimes, Niskanen does show a little emotion, at least through his play.

That’s exactly what happened when Scott Laughton innocently carried the puck into his offensive zone in the second period. Just as he looks to make a pass…BOOM…he’s met by a 209 pound quiet wall.

Laughton cowered towards the bench, and straight down the hall towards the locker room.

The crowd instantly went nuts. A loud, deafening sound of nuts.

Was Niskanen angry? Maybe. Was it because he was hit kinda hard by Wayne Simmonds? Maybe. Was it because he was still a little upset that he was called offside on a questionable call? Maybe.

But what Niskanen did was fire his team up. Everyone knows a big hit can do that. But we’ve only seen Niskanen for what? Half a season? Brooks Orpik has seen him for four years. Is he really always like this, or is he still just shy?

“He’s a pretty quiet guy, (but) he’s pretty consistent in terms of his attitude and personality,” Orpik said. “He just kind of comes in, he’s quiet, and does his job every day. I think guys admire that and respect that out of him. A lot of times he’s not the flashiest guy, but he’s really effective.”

Alright. So he’s always like this. But again, there’s no denying his teammates appreciate that kind of hit.

“It was good,” Orpik said. “It got the bench going.”

Barry Trotz agreed.

“I thought it changed us, gave us some momentum,” Barry Trotz said. “If you watch the shifts after that it just sort of energized our bench.”

And as Holtby pointed out, a Niskanen hit isn’t all that unusual.

“That’s a big hit right there,” Braden Holtby said. “He’s had a few of those. He kind of surprises you once in a while.”

The Caps played a tight defensive game. After Jason Chimera marched out and scored on a redirection (off of a Niskanen pass), the Caps couldn’t capitalize on their relatively few scoring chances. So the team turned a little more defensive, and earned their first 1-0 victory in three years.

And what did Matt Niskanen have to say about it? He stood, thought carefully, gave a mellow sigh, and answers,

“I don’t know how the play set up, but they were coming in on the rush,” Niskanen said. “He kinda cut in front of my partner there. We had a tight gap on him, and I saw an opportunity to lay into him.”

Trotz compared his relaxed manner to Nicklas Backstrom. Just calm, cool and collected. Then, he compared him to a Leave It To Beaver character.

“He’s like Eddie Haskell. He’s got the young face and all that. But he’ll run into you and give you the stick.”

So as Niskanen leaves the Verizon Center, he will drive in what I assume is a mild mannered Nissan Sentra. It’s white, nothing too flashy. He will pull up to his house, lock his car door, and proceed to call inside. His wife will be asleep. He will walk over, and heat himself up a warm milk. He will glance down at his 1000 piece puzzle. He will place one piece, and he will be satisfied. He will sit down on his leather sofa, watch the news, and nod approvingly along. He will then go to bed, as he needs to prepare for practice the next day.